Hunt for the ‘Blood Diamond of Batteries’ Impedes Green Energy Push
Dangerous mining conditions plague Congo, home to the world’s largest supply of cobalt, a key ingredient in electric cars. A leadership battle threatens reforms.
Batteries containing cobalt reduce overheating in electric cars and extend their range, but the metal has become known as “the blood diamond of batteries” because of its high price and the perilous conditions in Congo, the largest producer of cobalt in the world. As a result, carmakers concerned about consumer blowback are rapidly moving to find alternatives to the element in electric vehicles, and they are increasingly looking to other nations with smaller reserves as possible suppliers.
But to many in Congo and the United States, Mr. Yuma himself is a problem. As chairman of Gécamines, Congo’s state-owned mining enterprise, he has been accused of helping to divert billions of dollars in revenues, according to confidential State Department legal filings reviewed by The New York Times and interviews with a dozen current and former officials in both countries