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Home News DRC wants end to Glencore export of raw cobalt

DRC wants end to Glencore export of raw cobalt

Published on 06/11/2021
Written by Keystone-SDA/gw
Published from Swissinfo.ch

The Deputy Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has told Swiss delegates at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow that her country will no longer accept the export of its raw materials, notably cobalt, by commodities giant Glencore.

“[The raw materials] belong to us,” said Eve Bazaiba, who is also the DRC’s environment minister, in an interview with news platform Geneva Solutions. “They will now have to be processed locally.”

Bazaiba said the DRC wanted a more equal trade partnership in raw materials with Switzerland. She transmitted this message to the head of the Swiss delegation at COP26, Franz Perrez, when they met for a bilateral meeting on Friday. Perrez confirmed to news agency Keystone-SDA that the subject had been discussed but did not elaborate.

“Cobalt cannot be exported, transformed and manufactured into batteries outside the country, while we are reduced to selling our teeth to afford a green vehicle,” said Bazaiba.

Glencore operates two cobalt mines in the DRC. The country supplies more than 60% of the world’s cobalt, a by-product of copper and nickel mining that forms an essential component of rechargeable batteries powering smartphones, laptops and electric cars. Artisanal and small-scale mining of cobalt has been linked to unsafe working conditions and the use of child labour.

In her meeting with Perrez at the climate conference, Bazaiba said she also pressed Switzerland to convince other rich developed countries to honour the “polluter pays” principle, so that funds can be made available to help developing countries like the DRC fight global warming.

Disappointing turnout at climate protests

Activists in Lausanne and Zurich turned out in smaller numbers than organisers had hoped on Saturday, dubbed the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice, as the international COP26 conference of parties to the Paris Agreement reached the half-way point.

Around 500 took part in a rally in Lausanne, well below numbers of similar actions in the past, including the climate strikes of 2019 that saw more than 10,000 people converge on the French-speaking city. The protesters, from a cross-section of movements and age groups, denounced what they called “empty words” of leaders at the conference in Glasgow, where tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied on Saturday.

In Zurich, just 150 people turned up to call for “a change of system, not climate”, while in Geneva around 50 people had gathered, the Keystone-SDA news agency reported.