Cobalt mining is having a disastrous impact on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
As the demand for gadgets and electric cars grows, so too are the mining operations that dig up cobalt to use in lithium-ion batteries.
And that’s become a serious problem for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, The New Yorker reports, which sits atop about 3.4 million metric tons of the stuff — half of the entire planet’s supply. A massive, gold rush-like mining industry was born after residents in poverty-stricken areas discovered ore deposits under their homes. But now, many are finding that digging up the valuable mineral has failed to lift them out of poverty. And meanwhile, dangerous conditions are killing miners as exposure to the metal is poisoning both people and the environment.