Published: 07:01 +10:00, 6 August 2017 | Updated: 22:37 +10:00, 6 August 2017
Picking through a mountain of huge rocks with his tiny bare hands, the exhausted little boy makes a pitiful sight.
His name is Dorsen and he is one of an army of children, some just four years old, working in the vast polluted mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where toxic red dust burns their eyes, and they run the risk of skin disease and a deadly lung condition. Here, for a wage of just 8p a day, the children are made to check the rocks for the tell-tale chocolate-brown streaks of cobalt – the prized ingredient essential for the batteries that power electric cars.
And it’s feared that thousands more children could be about to be dragged into this hellish daily existence – after the historic pledge made by Britain to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 and switch to electric vehicles.
[Ron: Really?! An historic pledge you say? Such verbiage is worse than useless. It's maker(s) will probably not be here in 2040 and they certainly won't be in a position to deliver on this pompous piece of propaganda. IF 'The Mail on Sunday' child slavery in the Congo it would campaign to evict the warmongering Jew controlled government from power in the UK. It would also TELL its readers about the alternative energy sources discovered by Nikola Tesla, mehan Keshe and many others NONE of which require the use of batteries OR of petrol or diesel driven engines. Instead we get some gut wrenching bullshit about child slavery in Africa that readers can do nothing about.].
Eight-year-old Dorsen is pictured cowering beneath the raised hand of an overseer who warns him not to spill a rock. [Ron: Really?! WHY? Will the rock get hurt if it is "spilt"?].
It heralds a future of clean energy, free from pollution[Ron: Bullshit! Electric energy is NOT clean. The source of the pollution is merely shifted to some out of sight power plant.] but – though there can be no doubting the good intentions behind Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s announcement last month[Ron: WHY NOT? The "pledge" is obviously bullshit and Michael Gove mouths it without any intention or ability to fulfill it?]. – such ideals mean nothing for the children condemned to a life of hellish misery in the race to achieve his target. [Ron: Yadda, yadda, utter bulllshit, yadda.].
Dorsen, just eight, is one of 40,000 children working daily in the mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The terrible price they will pay for our clean air is ruined health and a likely early death. [Ron: So, what is this presstitute and her employer doing about it?].
Almost every big motor manufacturer striving to produce millions of electric vehicles buys its cobalt from the impoverished central African state. It is the world’s biggest producer, with 60 per cent of the planet’s reserves.
The cobalt is mined by unregulated labour and transported to Asia where battery manufacturers use it to make their products lighter, longer-lasting and rechargeable.
The planned switch to clean energy vehicles has led to an extraordinary surge in demand. While a smartphone battery uses no more than 10 grams of refined cobalt, an electric car needs 15kg (33lb).
He then staggers beneath the weight of a heavy sack that he must carry to unload 60ft away in pouring rain
Goldman Sachs, the merchant bank, calls cobalt ‘the new gasoline’ but there are no signs of new wealth in the DRC, where the children haul the rocks brought up from tunnels dug by hand.
Adult miners dig up to 600ft below the surface using basic tools, without protective clothing or modern machinery. Sometimes the children are sent down into the narrow makeshift chambers where there is constant danger of collapse.
Cobalt is such a health hazard that it has a respiratory disease named after it – cobalt lung, a form of pneumonia which causes coughing and leads to permanent incapacity and even death.
Even simply eating vegetables grown in local soil can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, thyroid damage and fatal lung diseases, while birds and fish cannot survive in the area.
No one knows quite how many children have died mining cobalt in the Katanga region in the south-east of the country. The UN estimates 80 a year, but many more deaths go unregistered, with the bodies buried in the rubble of collapsed tunnels. Others survive but with chronic diseases which destroy their young lives. Girls as young as ten in the mines are subjected to sexual attacks and many become pregnant.
Dorsen and 11-year-old Richard are pictured. With his mother dead, Dorsen lives with his father in the bush and the two have to work daily in the cobalt mine to earn money for food.
When Sky News investigated the Katanga mines it found Dorsen, working near a little girl called Monica, who was four, on a day of relentless rainfall.
Dorsen was hauling heavy sacks of rocks from the mine surface to a growing stack 60ft away. A full sack was lifted on to Dorsen’s head and he staggered across to the stack. A brutish overseer stood over him, shouting and raising his hand to threaten a beating if he spilt any.
With his mother dead, Dorsen lives with his father in the bush and the two have to work daily in the cobalt mine to earn money for food. [Ron: This is repetition.].
Dorsen’s friend Richard, 11, said that at the end of a working day ‘everything hurts’.
In a country devastated by civil wars in which millions have died,[Ron: Just as in Libya, Syria et al, the wars are NOT really "civil wars". They are organised, armed, supplied and controlled by the Jews who control Israel, and the Anglo-US and EU nations. Terry Crawford-Browne explains the situation:
After the Congo became independent in 1960, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in collusion with American and South African diamond interests, orchestrated the assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba plus the subsequent coup d’etat in 1965 which placed Joseph Mobutu in power until 1997.
The Congo was plundered during Mobutu’s kleptomaniac regime, but the tragic circumstances have deteriorated even further since the Kabilas (father and son) took over. The Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, and a major producer of copper and diamonds. It also produces 70 percent of the world’s coltan.
A three-year investigation convened by the UN Security Council in 2000 found that sophisticated networks of high-level political, military and business persons in collaboration with various rebel groups were intentionally fuelling the conflict in order to retain control over the country’s natural resources. In a series of controversial reports, the investigation exposed the vicious cycle of resource-driven conflict and war.
There is a worldwide profit interest that the present plundering mechanism stays in place. There are an enormous number of people siphoning off Congo’s resources. It is all laid out in reports every one can read on the Internet. There are the Congolese government elite, all kinds of European and North American firms, a huge number of African firms, and especially the elites from neighbouring countries. It is a very vast and complex network profiting from the war and its exploitation.[Van Criegkinge, Jan (2006). ‘ Congo (DRC) and War Profiteers: a Tragedy Forgotten by the Global Peace Movement, War Profiteers News #4, London, 1 December.]
Smuggling of natural resources sought by “first world” strategic industries has fuelled the war, hence the description as “Africa’s First World War.”The war has caused the deaths of an estimated ten million people. Israeli nationals, led by Dan Gertler, are now the largest foreign investors in the Congo.[Ewing, Jonathan (2013). ‘Congo: Fool’s Gold,’ World Policy Institute. http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/summer2013/fools-gold]These investments are invariably held via front companies in tax haven jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands which, in turn, are notorious for money laundering and tax evasion operations.
Gertler provides “security” for President Joseph Kabila against lavish concessions to exploit the Congo’s natural resources, including the allocation at giveaway prices in 2011 of 25 percent of the shares of Gécamines, the successor company to UMHK, and other assets.[Wallis, Williams, Helen Thomas and Katrina Manson (2012) ‘Questions Over Tycoon’s Congo mines role,’ Financial Times, 26 June. http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/dce3c89a-bec6-11e1-8ccd-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2gkTBl1dr] The International Monetary Fund in 2013 suspended loans to the DRC pending satisfactory explanation of this and similar transactions.[Kavanagh, Michael J. (2013) ‘Congo Affidavit on Gecamines Deal May Allow IMF Loans To Proceed,’ Bloomberg Business Week, 9 May. http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/503494?type=bloomberg]
In seeming contradiction to Gertler’s support provided to the DRC government, the Israeli government also arms and funds Ugandan and Rwandan dictators, Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame. They have been “named and shamed” by the UN as the godfathers of “Africa’s First World War.”
The complicity of western (including Israeli) governments in both fuelling the war and protecting Museveni and Kagame has been heavily documented.[Mantague, Montague and Frida Berrigan (2001), ‘The Business of War in the Democratic republic of Congo,’ Dollars and Sense Magazine. July/August. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Africa/Business_War_Congo.html]Yet to date no action has been taken against them by the international community.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair proudly describes himself as one of Kagame’s advisors and friend. Huge amounts of British financial aid have been poured into Rwanda which, curiously, has become a member of the Commonwealth. The Rwandan government’s agenda is to annex North and South Kivu provinces and their mineral wealth into Rwanda.[Snow, Keith Harmon (2005) ‘Rwanda’s Secret War: US-backed Destabilisation of Central Africa,’ Z Magazine, February 2005. http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Africa/Rwanda_Secret_War.html]Blair also chairs the Middle East Quartet, and so provides Israel with diplomatic protection over Palestine. The UN finally took the offensive in August 2013 with UN troops, including South African soldiers, against the M23 rebels that are backed by Rwanda. The New York Times in September 2013 published an in-depth analysis of Kagame under the title “The Global Elite’s Favorite Strongman.”[Gettleman, Jeffrey (2013) ‘The Global Elite’s Favorite Strongman,’ New York Times, 4 September.]Both the UN and US in October 2013 warned the Rwandan government against its continuing support for M23 and the use of child soldiers.[‘US Sanctions Rwanda Over Use of Child Soldiers by M23 Rebels, (2013) Radio Okapi/ Congo Planet. 4 October. http://www.congoplanet.com/2013/10/04/news/2057/us-sanctions-rwanda-over-use-of-child-soldiers-m23-rebels.jsp]The Rwandan government unconvincingly denies involvement...
Apartheid in Palestine-Israel is not only the leading moral issue of this age, but its world impact – including the plundering of African natural resources — remains the foremost threat to international peace and security. Given its stockpile of nuclear warheads and the disposition within the Netanyahu government to use them to “defend” the Zionist state, there is no way that the international community can dare challenge Israel militarily. A nonviolent initiative is therefore imperative.
The “Who Profits?” website maintained by the Women’s Coalition for Peace, documents war profiteering by Israeli and international corporations. Corruption, money laundering and human rights abuses are invariably interconnected. Such abuses are rampant in Israel, but are invariably buried or excused by considerations of “national security.” The website lists hundreds of companies involved in construction of the “apartheid wall” and settlements.
there is no other way for families to survive.[Ron: WHY? This is presstitute bullshit. See the above notes and references.] Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) is donating £10.5million between June 2007 and June 2018 towards strengthening revenue transparency and encouraging responsible activity in large and small scale artisanal mining, ‘to benefit the poor of DRC’. [Ron:Yabba, yabba bullshit! Who actually gets this money?].
There is little to show for these efforts so far. There is a DRC law forbidding the enslavement of under-age children, but nobody enforces it.
The UN’s International Labour Organisation has described cobalt mining in DRC as ‘one of the worst forms of child labour’ due to the health risks.
Soil samples taken from the mining area by doctors at the University of Lubumbashi, the nearest city, show the region to be among the ten most polluted in the world. Residents near mines in southern DRC had urinary concentrates of cobalt 43 higher than normal. Lead levels were five times higher, cadmium and uranium four times higher.
The worldwide rush to bring millions of electric vehicles on to our roads has handed a big advantage to those giant car-makers which saw this bonanza coming and invested in developing battery-powered vehicles, among them General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Tesla, BMW and Fiat-Chrysler.
Chinese middle-men working for the Congo Dongfang Mining Company have the stranglehold in DRC, buying the raw cobalt brought to them in sacks carried on bicycles and dilapidated old cars daily from the Katanga mines. They sit in shacks on a dusty road near the Zambian border, offering measly sums scrawled on blackboards outside – £40 for a ton of cobalt-rich rocks – that will be sent by cargo ship to minerals giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt in China and sold on to a complex supply chain feeding giant multinationals.
Challenged by the Washington Post about the appalling conditions in the mines, Huayou Cobalt said ‘it would be irresponsible’ to stop using child labour, claiming: ‘It could aggravate poverty in the cobalt mining regions and worsen the livelihood of local miners.’
Human rights charity Amnesty International also investigated cobalt mining in the DRC and says that none of the 16 electric vehicle manufacturers they identified have conducted due diligence to the standard defined by the Responsible Cobalt Initiative.
Monica, just four-years-old, works in the mine alongside Dorsen and Richard
Encouragingly, Apple, which uses the mineral in its devices, has committed itself to treat cobalt like conflict minerals – those which have in the past funded child soldiers in the country’s civil war – and the company claims it is going to require all refiners to have supply chain audits and risk assessments. But Amnesty International is not satisfied. ‘This promise is not worth the paper it is written on when the companies are not investigating their suppliers,’ said Amnesty’s Mark Dummett. ‘Big brands have the power to change this.’
After DRC, Australia is the next biggest source of cobalt, with reserves of 1million tons, followed by Cuba, China, Russia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Car maker Tesla – the market leader in electric vehicles – plans to produce 500,000 cars per year starting in 2018, and will need 7,800 tons of cobalt to achieve this. Sales are expected to hit 4.4 million by 2021. It means the price of cobalt will soar as the world gears itself up for the electric car revolution, and there is evidence some corporations are cancelling their contracts with regulated mines using industrial technology, and turning increasingly to the cheaper mines using human labour.
After the terrible plight of Dorsen and Richard was broadcast in a report on Sky News, an emotive response from viewers funded a rescue by children’s charity Kimbilio. They are now living in a church-supported children’s home, sleeping on mattresses for the first time in their lives and going to school.[Ron: What about the other 40,000 child slaves?!]
But there is no such happy ending for the tens of thousands of children left in the hell on earth that is the cobalt mines of the Congo. [Ron: WHY?].