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Cobalt Hell

Dangers of mining by hand in Congo

The Cobalt Hell documentary takes the viewer deep into the mine shafts in Congo, where people extract cobalt ore by hand, a very exhausting and health-damaging trade. Cobalt is used to make lithium-ion batteries for smartphones and laptops. Cobalt will also purportedly help transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Unfortunately, though cobalt mining is the livelihood for these people, most will probably never enjoy using the fruits of their labour. Moreover, many don't even know what it's for.

Men spend days extracting the cobalt ore from the pits while women and children wash and sort it. The money they earn is only enough to keep them fed and sheltered. Young Congolese men agree to this backbreaking job hoping to earn enough money for university. This way, they will have a slight chance of leaving this life and helping their families. On the other hand, women who raise their children alone agree to work on cobalt processing though it might ruin their health. What's more, the idea of closing the cobalt deposit site gives them shivers because they see no other way of earning a living.

Find out more about the dark side of technological progress in the film.