Guest On Joe Rogan’s Podcast Exposes The Horrors Of Mining Cobalt Used In Lithium Batteries

Written by K. Walker on December 27, 2022

The devices that the Western world relies on every day are powered by slavery in the developing world.

Modernity relies heavily on lithium batteries. They’re in cellphones, tablets, laptops, and… electric vehicles.

As the Left pushes EVs as the future of transportation, we’re going to have to face a human rights issue that most people have been ignoring for years — the exploitation in cobalt mining in the Congo.

Siddharth Kara, a Harvard visiting professor, modern slavery activist, and author of “Cobalt Red: How The Blood of The Congo Powers Our Lives,” appeared on a recent episode of the Joe Rogan Experience to discuss what he calls the disturbing conditions in the cobalt mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo that he has witnessed firsthand.


He says that he first saw the “appalling,” “heart-wrenching,” and “urgent” conditions in the cobalt mines in the Congo in 2018 and that’s when he decided to write his book.

“Throughout the whole history of slavery — I mean, I’m going back centuries — never, never in human history has there been more suffering that generated more profit and was linked to the lives of more people around the world ever, ever in the history than what’s happening in the Congo right now,” says Kara.

“The cobalt that’s being mined in the Congo is in every single lithium-ion battery manufactured in the world today,” explains Kara. “Every smartphone, every tablet, every laptop, and crucially, every electric vehicle. So, you and I, we can’t function on a day-to-day basis without cobalt and three-fourths of the supply is coming out of the Congo, and it’s being mined in appalling, heart-wrenching, and dangerous conditions.”

“Cobalt took off because it started to be used in lithium-ion batteries to maximize their charge and stability, says Kara. “And it just so happens that the Congo — just as it was sitting on more than half the world’s reserves of coltan and of course, a lot of gold and diamonds and other things — is sitting on more cobalt than the rest of the planet combined.”

Kara says that the small section of the Congo in the southeast where the cobalt is found was quickly snatched up by the Chinese government and Chinese mining companies. He adds that the local population was displaced and is under duress to dig in “sub-human” conditions for “a dollar a day.”

A video showing what is supposed to be an industrial cobalt mine — meaning there should only be excavators and large equipment and no individual people hammering away at the ground — but it’s filled with thousands and thousands of people digging by hand.

“There is not a single company on planet Earth that makes a device that has a rechargeable battery that can reliably and justifiably claim that their cobalt is not coming from sources like that,” says Kara, “and that’s what people need to understand.”

Kara tells Rogan that the idea of “clean cobalt” is “a fiction” — it’s all just marketing and PR.

He said that he wrote his book because people should know about what is happening. Kara describes a “mass of humanity” filling the cobalt mines digging for the mineral with no protective gear. “Half of them are wearing flip-flops,” Kara tells Rogan, and no one wears protective gear — not even a mask or respirator despite cobalt being toxic if it’s breathed in.

Rogan asks if there are any industrial cobalt mines in the Congo that use machinery instead of relying on slavery or child labor, and Kara says no.

“I’ve never seen one and I’ve been to almost all the major industrial cobalt mines” in the country Kara said.

He added that while Westerners are reassured that the mines are industrial, that children — mostly teenage boys — are often found digging for cobalt and other minerals for “a dollar or two a day.”

He adds that the cobalt that is mined by hand is sold back to the industrial cobalt mines and mixed with their own product for refining and brought into the supply chain that way. This means that every company using cobalt in their batteries has contributed to modern slavery.

This is horrific. It’s one more reminder that the Chinese government is a real threat to the world — they don’t care that these mining companies are exploiting people.

But many on the “compassionate left” don’t seem to care much, either.

The Left loves to talk about “privilege” but not if it means they should feel guilty that slavery is what brought them that new iPhone or the new Samsung Galaxy with the foldable screen.

More and more politicians on the left are caving to the demands of climate extremists by decrying fossil fuels and pushing to ban internal combustion engines and insist that we all move to electric vehicles. The problem with these “green” vehicles — aside from what is used to charge them — is that the batteries in the EVs rely on modern day slave labor.

Banning gas-powered vehicles only incentivizes more abuses as demand for cobalt for EV batteries increases.

The EV advocates are also quite often the same people who are denouncing the “legacy of slavery” and pushing for reparations. (We’re looking at you, Gov. Newsom!)

How is Gov. Newsom going to square that circle?

He probably won’t have to because Democrats have turned California into an absolute clown state.

Unfortunately, this “clown state” is leading other states to follow its pattern.

Fortunately, some Republicans are willing to push back.

The Biden administration has made it clear that EVs “are the future” and is committed to pushing them whether we like it or not.

But when government agencies use tax dollars for fleets of electric vehicles, they’re making the American government complicit in slave labor and child labor in a developing nation.

We need to find a way to fix this situation… and fast.

ClashDaily's Associate Editor since August 2016. Self-described political junkie, anti-Third Wave Feminist, and a nightmare to the 'intersectional' crowd. Mrs. Walker has taken a stand against 'white privilege' education in public schools. She's also an amateur Playwright, former Drama teacher, and staunch defender of the Oxford comma. Follow her humble musings on Twitter: @TheMrsKnowItAll and on Gettr @KarenWalker