GRA
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GCC: Scientists at KU Leuven, University of Lubumbashi reveal the health risks of cobalt mining in DR Congo

Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:28 pm

http://www.greencarcongress.com/2018/09/210180924-cobalt.html

. . . Around 60% of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the mineral-rich Katanga Copper belt, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Researchers at KU Leuven and the University of Lubumbashi have now shown that cobalt mining takes a high toll on both the creuseurs—the ‘diggers’ who work in the mines, often by hand—and on the environment. Their paper is published in the journal Nature Sustainability.

Previous research by KU Leuven and the University of Lubumbashi (2009) had already found high concentrations of trace metals in the urine of people living close to mines. The new works confirms the health risks of cobalt mining.

The researchers conducted a case study in Kasulo, an urban neighborhood in Kolwezi, in the heart of the Congolese mining area. When cobalt ore was discovered under one of the houses there, the entire area quickly became an artisanal mine. The houses are now interspersed with dozens of mine pits where hundreds of creuseurs hunt for cobalt. Most residents remained in the area.

The major problem is the dust containing cobalt and many other metals, including uranium that is released during the mining process and settles on the ground.

The researchers collected blood and urine samples from 72 Kasulo residents, including 32 children. A control group with a similar composition was selected in a neighboring district.

    Children living in the mining district had ten times as much cobalt in their urine as children living elsewhere. Their values were much higher than what we’d accept for European factory workers. This study may be limited in scope, but the results are crystal-clear. The differences cannot be attributed to coincidence.

    —Professor Benoit Nemery, doctor-toxicologist at the KU Leuven Department of Public Health and Primary Care

The long-term consequences of this increased exposure to cobalt are not yet clear, but Professor Nemery is not optimistic.

    Cobalt is less toxic than other metals such as lead, cadmium, or arsenic. But we found increased concentrations of several other metals as well. Furthermore, we found more DNA damage in children living in the mining area than in those from the control group. And the preliminary results of an ongoing study suggest that miners’ new-born babies have an increased risk of birth defects.

    —Benoit Nemery. . . .

    This field study provides novel and robust empirical evidence that the artisanal extraction of cobalt that prevails in the DR Congo may cause toxic harm to vulnerable communities. This strengthens the conclusion that the currently existing cobalt supply chain is not sustainable.

    —Nkulu et al.
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

The 'best' is the enemy of 'good enough'. Copper shot, not Silver bullets.

DarthPuppy
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Re: GCC: Scientists at KU Leuven, University of Lubumbashi reveal the health risks of cobalt mining in DR Congo

Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:15 pm

GRA wrote:http://www.greencarcongress.com/2018/09/210180924-cobalt.html

. . . Demand for cobalt has been on the increase due to its many applications. The metal is a crucial component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for smartphones and electric cars..


(I added another quote snippet from your linked article.)

This is another enlightening aspect on the ills of EV batteries and the constraints on supply. I've recently been concerned about the social justice aspects of labor exploitation in these operations. This local community and laborer health impact is another one. We really need to use our battery supplies efficiently.

At the bottom of that link, there is a comment section. In that was a comment that the Nissan AESC produced batteries (that's what is in the Leaf 1.0 right?) doesn't use Cobalt. Anyone know if that is the case? For that matter, could the materials used in the AESC batteries have a worse social justice burden than the ones using Cobalt?

Is there a resource that tells us which cars have batteries of which type? And also important, which battery types are better/worse in terms of social justice impact?

I really like EVs and want them to become mainstream. But I also want to be socially responsible not just green. I'd love to see a rating of each EV on multiple social justice scores: one for green (at the point of use - i.e., I want my local community to have clean air), one for green (total carbon footprint from cradle to grave - includes the environment impact of the battery sourcing in that source community), and one addressing labor exploitation. With this information, those who care can factor that into their buying decisions and hopefully influence the manufacturers' decisions. But there probably aren't enough who care about ethical issues such as these so this probably would be a wasted exercise to put such a scorecard in place.
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RegGuheert
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Re: GCC: Scientists at KU Leuven, University of Lubumbashi reveal the health risks of cobalt mining in DR Congo

Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:47 am

DarthPuppy wrote:Is there a resource that tells us which cars have batteries of which type? And also important, which battery types are better/worse in terms of social justice impact?
Nearly all BEVs of today use cobalt in their batteries.

The very good news is that perhaps *the* most promising battery of tomorrow does not use cobalt.
RegGuheert
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GRA
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Re: GCC: Scientists at KU Leuven, University of Lubumbashi reveal the health risks of cobalt mining in DR Congo

Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:21 pm

DarthPuppy wrote:
GRA wrote:http://www.greencarcongress.com/2018/09/210180924-cobalt.html

. . . Demand for cobalt has been on the increase due to its many applications. The metal is a crucial component of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for smartphones and electric cars..


(I added another quote snippet from your linked article.)

This is another enlightening aspect on the ills of EV batteries and the constraints on supply. I've recently been concerned about the social justice aspects of labor exploitation in these operations. This local community and laborer health impact is another one. We really need to use our battery supplies efficiently.

At the bottom of that link, there is a comment section. In that was a comment that the Nissan AESC produced batteries (that's what is in the Leaf 1.0 right?) doesn't use Cobalt. Anyone know if that is the case? For that matter, could the materials used in the AESC batteries have a worse social justice burden than the ones using Cobalt?

Is there a resource that tells us which cars have batteries of which type? And also important, which battery types are better/worse in terms of social justice impact?

I really like EVs and want them to become mainstream. But I also want to be socially responsible not just green. I'd love to see a rating of each EV on multiple social justice scores: one for green (at the point of use - i.e., I want my local community to have clean air), one for green (total carbon footprint from cradle to grave - includes the environment impact of the battery sourcing in that source community), and one addressing labor exploitation. With this information, those who care can factor that into their buying decisions and hopefully influence the manufacturers' decisions. But there probably aren't enough who care about ethical issues such as these so this probably would be a wasted exercise to put such a scorecard in place.

The LEAF's original AESC batteries were LiMn2O4, Lithium- Manganese-Oxide. don't know what they've added since, but some Co is probably part of it. Most of the rest of the newer packs use NMC, Lithium-Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt-Oxide, in varying %. Tesla uses NCA, Li-Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum-Oxide and claims to have reduced the % of Cobalt considerably. The Chinese were and maybe still are into LiFEPO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate), which probably has the least environmental and social costs, but is also the lowest in specific energy - the Spark used this for the first year or so. the Fit used LTO; See here for a fuller description of the various chemistries: https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/types_of_lithium_ion
Guy [I have lots of experience designing/selling off-grid AE systems, some using EVs but don't own one. Local trips are by foot, bike and/or rapid transit].

The 'best' is the enemy of 'good enough'. Copper shot, not Silver bullets.

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