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27 Mar 2024


DRC: Report spotlights toxic environmental, health and social impacts of cobalt mining including gynaecological and reproductive repercussions, incl. co. responses

" New report exposes the environmental and human costs of DRC’s cobalt boom" 27 March 2024

A new report released today reveals that toxic pollution from industrial cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is having devastating human and environmental impacts. The findings challenge the narrative of ‘clean’ and ‘sustainable cobalt’ frequently promoted by multinational mining companies. Cobalt is a critical raw material used in the rechargeable batteries of electric vehicles and renewable energy technologies, and is largely sourced from the copper and cobalt belt of southern DRC.

The 110-page ground-breaking report, “Beneath the Green: A critical look at the cost of industrial cobalt mining in the DRC,” authored by UK corporate watchdog RAID and DRC-based African Resources Watch (AFREWATCH), is one of the first in-depth studies of the environmental impacts of industrial cobalt mining on the human rights of hundreds of thousands of Congolese people living in and around Kolwezi, the heart of DRC’s cobalt industry. Focused on the impacts of water pollution, it finds that the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is routinely being violated for fenceline communities living in the shadow of the world’s largest cobalt and copper mines.

Communities visited by RAID and AFREWATCH said that the toxic contamination is harming their health and having destructive consequences on local ecosystems and agriculture. Local residents said there is not enough clean water to drink, let alone enough for washing and personal hygiene, forcing them to use contaminated water for their everyday needs. A staggering 56% of those interviewed report that the pollution is affecting the gynaecological and reproductive health of women and girls, resulting in irregular menstruation, urogenital infections, more frequent miscarriages and, in some cases, birth defects. More and more young girls and teenagers also appear to be affected. [...] Mining companies recognise that chronic clean water shortage is a concern for local residents and have constructed boreholes to help alleviate the problem.