10,000 families in southeastern DR Congo will soon be uprooted from their homes. The town in which they live sits atop billions of dollars worth of cobalt.
According to a report by AFP, Richard Muyej, governor of Lualaba province and a former interior minister said that the relocation plan would cost around $800 million and “if the state determines that it is in the interest of the entire nation, it can compensate the inhabitants”.
Muyej anticipates pushback from residents over the re-location, but said what is under the ground does not belong to individuals but to the state.
DR Congo is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, which is used in making batteries used in mobile phones and electric vehicles.
The cobalt reserves at Kasulo are estimated to be worth $100 billion, however, the prices for the mineral are expected to rise as demand increases.
The announcement comes shortly after five US tech giants including Apple, Microsoft and Google parent Alphabet were named in a lawsuit over the death of child laborers in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The case was lodged Sunday in the name of 14 unidentified relatives of children killed in tunnel collapses, as well others maimed as they worked.