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Tipsheet

Biden's 'Blood Battery' Energy Agreement Incentivizes Forced Labor in African Mines

SCHALK VAN ZUYDAM

The State Department announced on Wednesday that the United States had signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Zambia "concerning support for the development of a value chain in the electric vehicle battery sector." The MOU is the latest round move in President Biden's war on fossil fuels that he's pledged to "end" and part of his forced "transition" from gasoline-powered cars to electric vehicles. It's also a massive gift to those profiting off of forced labor, including by children, in the African countries signing the memo.

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As the State Department explained, "the United States will support the commitment between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Zambia to develop jointly a supply chain for electric vehicle batteries" and "supports the DRC and Zambia’s goal of building a productive supply chain, from the mine to the assembly line, while also committing to respect international standards to prevent, detect, and take legal action to fight corruption throughout this process."

Corruption is bad. But so is forced and child labor — which are not mentioned at all in the memorandum or in the State Department's release on the memo. 

The State Department explains that the "DRC produces more than 70 percent of the world’s cobalt" while "Zambia is the world’s sixth-largest copper producer, and the second largest cobalt producer in Africa," things that the Biden administration notes are "crucial components of the urgently needed global energy transition." 

But the Biden administration fails to mention the reasons why DRC and Zambia are leading producers of the raw materials needed for electric vehicle batteries in its announcement of the new MOU designed to "facilitate the development of an integrated value chain for the production of electric vehicle (EV) batteries in the DRC and Zambia, ranging from raw material extraction, to processing, manufacturing, and assembly."

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The State Department itself, in a tragic irony, has reports on its website telling the real story of mining in DRC and Zambia that are a damning indictment of the means used to achieve the memo's end goal.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, "mining bosses, other miners, family members, government officials, and armed groups" have been found to "force or coerce some adults and children to work in artisanal mines in eastern DRC, including through debt-based coercion," the State Department reported in 2022. "Individuals associated with the extractive sector abuse some children in forced labor in the illegal mining of diamonds, copper, gold, cobalt, tungsten ore, tantalum ore, and tin, as well as the smuggling of minerals to Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, the United Arab Emirates, and Tanzania," the State Department added.

A similarly tragic reality exists in the Republic of Zambia where "human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims," mostly within the country's borders, and "involves traffickers exploiting women and children from rural areas in cities in domestic servitude or forced labor in agriculture, textile production, mining, construction, small businesses, such as bakeries, and forced begging," a 2021 State Department report explains. "Jerabo gangs may force Zambian children to engage in illegal mining operations, such as loading stolen copper or crushing rocks." What's more, "Chinese nationals working in Zambia, particularly in the construction, mining, and service sectors, may have been forced to work, including by the People’s Republic of China state-owned enterprises that employed them," the State Department reported. 

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While the State Department reports explain that some government oversight in the countries has been attempted to detect and interdict child and forced labor but, as the State Department notes, government officials are often found to be the ones forcing labor in the first place.

Amid this corruption and human trafficking, does the Biden administration really think its plan to support these countries' mining activities to produce elements necessary for electric vehicle batteries will occur without exploiting their citizens?

Yet again, Biden and Democrats' crusade to go "green" is a shortsighted plan that is actually very harmful. In order to feel better about themselves and virtue signal their fealty to the climate change fear mongers, Biden is relying on forced and child labor in Africa. To supposedly save their "at-risk" coastal mansions from allegedly rising sea levels, Biden and his party are using innocent people trafficked by gangs, governments, and mining companies an ocean away. 

Not to belabor the point, but the memo does not mention human trafficking or forced and child labor in its plan. Why not?

And where's the social justice crowd in all this? BLM? Nowhere to be found, of course. Because, you see, when Democrats incentivize forced and child labor in Africa in order to secure more "green" energy, the ends apparently justify the means. 

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