The world’s low-carbon future depends, to an extraordinary degree, on cobalt. The heat-resistant metal has a melting point of 1,493˚ C, making it an ideal material to ensure lithium-ion batteries—the kind found in electric vehicles—don’t catch fire when we power them on. Sixty percent of the world’s refined cobalt comes from the copper-and-cobalt belt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And therein lies an ethical dilemma for EV automakers. For the past decade, mining in the DRC has been synonymous with human rights abuses, and particularly with child labor: A staggering number of children toil in the region’s open-pit mines. One company stepping up to change that is Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler. As the German auto giant ramps up its EV ambitions, it has also set out to map all the places on the planet—from mines to smelters—that handle cobalt for its batteries. It has sent teams of assessors to one-third of the locations, aiming to certify that each supplier meets its strict standards—including no kids in the mines and no contaminants spewed into the environment. For more, read "Daimler tackles the dirty secret behind clean cars."
Courtesy of Daimler
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