The United States signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Zambia late last year. The agreement was intended to facilitate the development of electric vehicle battery supply chains, which involve the mining of critical minerals such as cobalt and copper.
The agreement has raised concerns because cobalt mining in the DRC is currently monopolized by China. Critics worry that the MoU will ultimately benefit China, by focusing the United States on what some see as a less-than-reliable source of materials, rather than developing sources at home.
While both Zambia and the DRC are top producers of the metals, the DRC is the more richly endowed, producing over 70 percent of the world’s cobalt, which is typically mined as a by-product of copper or nickel mines. Experts told The Epoch Times that the MoU (pdf), which was signed on Dec. 13, can help the U.S. secure the supply chain and gradually enable it to replace the corrupt practices cultivated by the Chinese….