If you have not spared a thought for cobalt since high school science, then it might be time. It is having a boom, and the modern world is increasingly reliant on it — using it to stabilise batteries in phones, computers and electric cars; in fact, it is probably in the device you are using right now. But there is a catch. Cobalt is mined in a string of countries around the world including Australia, but most of the world’s supply comes from just one country in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — a nation with a long record of poorly-enforced labour standards and child exploitation.
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