The battery material used in electric cars is no vibranium.
An isolated African nation possesses unique deposits of a rare and valuable metal. Its leaders aim to nationalize mineral wealth, while a white South African trader seeks a more vigorous export market. Inevitably, resources bring tragedy as well as triumph. With great power comes great responsibility.
If that sounds like the plot of the current box-office smash Black Panther, it has a real-world echo. The Democratic Republic of Congo has an endowment of cobalt scarcely less outsized than the fictional Wakanda’s reserves of vibranium.
With the rise of electric vehicles forecast to increase demand for the battery material more than fourfold and cobalt prices tripling over the past two years, the paralysed, election-dodging government in Kinshasa is weighing a 150 percent increase in mining royalties. Continue Reading →