Joe Rogan’s guest Siddharth Kara reveals the dark side of cobalt

A visiting Harvard professor and modern slavery activist exposed the “horrific” cobalt mining industry in Congo in a recent episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” that went viral. The video has already garnered over a million views and counting.

Siddharth Kara, author of “Cobalt Red: How The Blood of The Congo Powers Our Lives,” told podcast host Joe Rogan that there is no such thing as “pure cobalt.”

“It’s all marketing,” Kara said.

Kara told Rogan that the level of “suffering” of the Congolese people who work in the cobalt mines is staggering.

When Rogan was asked if there was a cobalt mine in the Congo that did not rely on “child labor” or “slavery,” the visiting Harvard professor told him there was none.

“I’ve never seen one, and I’ve been to almost every large industrial cobalt mine” in the country, Kara said.

One reason for this is that the demand for cobalt is extremely high: “Cobalt is found in every lithium rechargeable battery produced in the world today,” he explained.

Joe Rogan
A guest on Joe Rogan’s experience discovered the dark side of cobalt mining.
The Joe Rogan Experience

As a result, it’s hard to imagine a piece of technology that doesn’t rely on cobalt to function, Kara said. “Every smartphone, every tablet, every laptop and, most importantly, every electric vehicle” needs the mineral.

“We cannot function on a daily basis without cobalt, and three-quarters of the supply comes from the Congo,” he added. “And it’s taken out in horrible, heartbreaking, dangerous conditions.”

But “mostly the world doesn’t know what’s going on” in Congo, Kara said.

“I don’t think people realize how horrible it is,” Rogan agreed.

Siddharth Kara
Harvard visiting professor Siddharth Kara said there are no cobalt mines in the Congo that do not rely on child labor or slavery.
The Joe Rogan Experience

The Biden administration recently struck a deal with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia to strengthen the green energy supply chain, despite the DRC’s documented problems with child labor.

Cobalt initially “started because it was used in lithium-ion batteries to maximize their charge and stability,” Kara explained. “And it just so happens that the Congo has more cobalt than the rest of the planet combined,” he added.

As a result, Congo, a country of about 90 million people, has become the center of a geopolitical conflict over valuable minerals. “Before anyone knew what was happening, [the] the Chinese government [and] “Chinese mining companies have taken control of almost all the big mines, and the local population has been displaced,” Kara said. After that, the Congolese are “under duress.”

Congo gold mine
Siddharth Kara said the miners work in “subhuman” conditions for less than a dollar a day.
AFP via Getty Images

He continued: “They mine in absolutely inhumane conditions that cause pain for a dollar a day, bringing cobalt into the supply chain of all phones, all tablets, and especially electric cars.”

British rapper Zubi recommended that his almost one million followers watch the interview.

“This latest Joe Rogan Experience podcast is tough,” he wrote. “If you have a smartphone or an electric vehicle (that’s 100% of you), I highly recommend listening to it.

Some, if not all, well-known technology and energy companies in the world are involved in the humanitarian crisis, Kara said.

“This is the bottom of the supply chain of your iPhone, your Tesla, your Samsung,” he said.

Fox News’ Thomas Cattanacchi contributed to this report.

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