#Africa – #China – #US: How #Cobalt has become new crude oil
China quickly realised that the emergence of companies like Tesla was driving the move from combustion fuelled engines. This led the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to have a combined daily production volume of 30.6m barrels of crude oil thereby placing non-producing western countries at risk.
China had to implement its energy policy through companies like CNOOC and SINOPEC in Africa, exchanging oil for infrastructure and loan deals as a means to secure the country’s energy future.
They also had to invest in the long term direction of funding state-backed enterprises that will strategically over the next decade, rise up to become the largest and highest producers of cobalt, an element mined from layers of copper and nickel, that are vital in making lithium-ion batteries in electric cars. As China could not get domestic companies to compete with Nissan and Tesla, a large supply of cobalt could be equally as useful.
While the US government has been concerned about the environmental, social and governance standards of American companies, and about the ‘boys club’ way of doing business that operates in Africa, the Chinese government has gotten into the trenches to acquire the basic assets necessary for a clean energy transition.
Workers have constantly complained about how their safety, social and economic standards have dropped at these mines since the Americans sold off and handed them over to the Chinese, which begs the question; shouldn’t safety and support of workers be considered important for sourcing the primary material necessary for a transition to clean energy?