THE HUMAN COST OF COBALT
“We need help, otherwise our children might die”, Patrick Tshaibamba. He and his family moved to Quartier CDM 2,5 years ago. His children are suffering from respiratory and skin diseases related to toxcis. Congo is one of the most mineral-rich countries of Africa and the biggest supplier of cobalt worldwide. This metal is the most expensive and key component in lithium batteries used for cell phones, laptops, and electric cars. But the world’s addiction to new technologies brings a new conflict -- the contamination of water, soil, and air --poisoning the people mining the metals. An extraordinary number of people living near mining companies suffer from respiratory and skin diseases linked to toxic waste. And in some of the most shocking cases seen in medicine, babies are being born with severe birth defects.
I visited places in and around Lubumbashi, spoke with people who are directly affected by the contamination and met with professors and doctors who are leading an investigation into the impact of minerals and cobalt in Lubumbashi.