Even as electric vehicle production ramps up around the world, the industry is reliant on nations with known human rights abuses and environmental violations for the batteries needed to power EVs.
The Democratic Republic of Congo supplies about 70 percent of the world's cobalt, a key material for today's EV batteries. But according to Wilson Center, a U.S. public policy think tank, cobalt mines in Congo rely on about 40,000 children — some as young as 6 years old — or about 16 percent of the 255,000 people who work in the mines. Workers are often paid less than $2 per day.
Meanwhile, China is responsible for 90 percent of global rare-earth element supply and is instrumental in processing raw materials for EV batteries around the world. But the country has been under fire for its environmental practices, as evidenced by an artificial, toxic lake in Inner Mongolia made of black sludge and hazardous chemicals that result from rare- earth mining.