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Newer Tesla batteries contain Cuban cobalt, which is probably illegal under US sanctions



Enlarge / On June 8, 2016, in Kawama, Democratic Republic of the Congo, a grave or an excavator descends into a copper and cobalt mine. Cobalt is used in batteries for electric cars and mobile phones. Working conditions are dangerous, often without safety equipment or structural support for the tunnels. The excavators say they receive an average of $ 2-3 per day

Panasonic, the exclusive supplier of Tesla batteries, has decided to stop purchasing cobalt from a Canadian company after Reuters asked questions about its origins would have.

Cobalt is a crucial element in the production of lithium-ion batteries, which are found in Tesla cars among most other consumer electronics.

The news agency, citing anonymous sources, said that "some of the cobalt" contained in Tesla's batteries In São Paulo, cobalt mined by Sherritt International, based in Toronto, is mined.

Despite the thawing of relations between the US and Cuba, the embargo remains in place – "most transactions between the United States … and Cuba continue to be banned," according to the Treasury

Most cobalt will be in the Democratic Republic Congo mined under horrible working conditions. The Washington Post reported in 2016 that electric cars typically contain cobalt in an amount of "20 to 30 pounds".

"No one knows exactly how many children work in the Congolese mining industry," according to Post . "UNICEF estimated 40,000 boys and girls in the south of the country in 2012. A 2007 study funded by the US Agency for International Development found that 4,000 children were working on mines in Kolwezi alone."

Companies that want to avoid the Democratic Republic of the Congo frequently in Russia, Canada, Australia or Cuba.

Cobalt mined in Canada or Australia probably costs more than cobalt mined in most other countries.

Panasonic, who does not immediately respond to Ar's request for comment, told Reuters that it did not know how much Cuban cobalt was in the batteries "because of the mixing". But the company suggested it ended his relationship with Sherritt.

Tesla boss Elon Musk said earlier that the company currently uses only "less than 3 percent cobalt" and plans to phase it out.

Neither Panasonic, Sherritt International nor Tesla have got on Ars & # 39; Please respond for a comment.


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