The Cobalt Wars

China Holds the Upper Hand



Grady Gore, Staff Writer

A new revolution of cleaner energy is upon us. Energy for cars from oil and gas is being replaced with electricity in the form of batteries. The batteries, however, are created from minerals and metals that are mined in Africa. 

Locations with high amounts of mineral collection have profited from mining and using the minerals as trade. The highest concentration of mineable minerals is located in Africa, specifically the Democratic Republic of Congo. Congo remains at the top of the list for many minerals, the most important of which being cobalt. The DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) has two thirds of the world’s supply of cobalt and has recently come into the spotlight for becoming a hub for exporting products needed for this new form of energy production. The United States, the leading consumer of this new, cleaner form of energy, has failed to secure long term diplomatic and financial relationships with Congo. Because of this, securing those minerals becomes an even more difficult task, resulting in the desperation to acquire new minerals. The United States has risked its ability to lead in the creation of a new stable form of clean energy, opening up the door for Chinese intervention and the spread of Chinese influence. 

In 2016, the United States pulled out of two major mineral mines in Congo. According to The New Yoyk Times, Chinese companies, operating dubiously, now have “doctored” agreements with the DRC to secure these new, open mines. Chinese companies in the last year secured control of 15 of the 19 cobalt producing companies in the DRC. The situation in Congo has become a desperate race between American and Chinese companies to secure cobalt and its mining rights (NYT).

Congolese officials have recognized the dishonest business affairs of the Chinese, however, little can be done at this point because the “fake deals” have already been enacted by the Chinese. They have promised to help out the Colognese financially, as well as building cities, roads, and hospitals.  However, none of these actions have been delivered by the Chinese. Chinese companies have also withheld payments from the Colognese, causing a decline in the DRC’s economy and people, who have relied on these business arrangements as their main source of income. More than this, the Chinese have secured the largest cobalt mining facility in the world, located in the DRC, with the help of Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden (  This in turn helps the Chinese in their plan to control the cobalt industry.

As it currently stands, Chinese companies have a virtual monopoly over cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Only time will tell if Americans will be able to take control and secure a portion of this cobalt for future advances in cleaner, safer, and greener energy. In addition to this, the ball is in the hands of the US to decide if they should continue pursuit of cobalt in the DRC, or if they should investigate other ways of creating and maintaining batteries for cars and other electric vehicles.