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Heart of Spark Plugs - Corruption, Poverty and Pollution in the DRC

Geoff Riley

27th July 2017

The surge towards electric cars gathers momentum each day. But this report from David Pilling of FT on the Democratic Republic of Congo - home to more than sixty per cent of the world's cobalt but still one of the poorest countries on the planet - is salutary reading on the darker side of the switch to supposedly cleaner vehicles.

Global demand for cobalt is likely to soar in the years ahead as the electric vehicle industry continued to grow in scale. But the richness of the natural resource is unlikely to benefit millions of impoverished people in the DRC.

More reading

World Bank resources on the DRC

Export map of the DRC from the Observatory of Economic Complexity

This child being abused in a cobalt mine is why Apple is trying to fix the mining business (May 2017)

Human Development in the DRC

The DRC's HDI value for 2015 was 0.435— which put the country in the low human development category—positioning it at 176 out of 188 countries and territories.

GNI per capita (2011 PPP$) was just $680 in 2015, just over half what it was in 1990

More here

Follow David Pilling's twitter feed by clicking below

Background data

World cobalt reserves as of 2016, by country (in metric tons)

World cobalt reserves as of 2016, by country (in metric tons)

Mine production of cobalt in DR Congo from 2008 to 2016 (in metric tons)

Video Report: Special report : Inside the Congo cobalt mines that exploit children

Geoff Riley

Geoff Riley FRSA has been teaching Economics for over thirty years. He has over twenty years experience as Head of Economics at leading schools. He writes extensively and is a contributor and presenter on CPD conferences in the UK and overseas.

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