In Africa, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), approximately 70% of the world's cobalt is produced. However, I'm curious about the percentage of this 70% that comes from illegal mines. It's challenging to believe that illegal mines can efficiently produce a significant portion of this cobalt. Is the majority of the cobalt production in the DRC sourced from legal and industrial mines rather than illegal ones? Can anyone provide more insights and data on the proportion of cobalt production that comes from illegal mining operations in the DRC?


1 Answer 1


Illegal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is also referred to as artisanal mining. For a number of decades DRC has been the main source of cobalt and tantalum (via coltan).

The DRC supplies about 70 percent of the world's mined cobalt. In 2022, this amounted to 145 000 t. The table below gives the production figures for the top 9 producing countries.

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Sources vary for the amount of artisanal mining done in the DRC. Wikipedia states between 17 percent and 40 percent of DRC cobalt production was from artisanal mines. The World Economic Forum states between 15 percent and 30 percent.

The news item Blood Cobalt from September 2022 illustrates the conditions artisanal mining work under in the DRC.


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