The photos are shocking, nobody should condone such behaviour and it should continue to be irradicated from being a viable method of mining but it’s important to remember that Cobalt is used in the process of refining and cleaning of oil, petrol, diesel, jet fuel etc, the processes are known as desulphurisation & hydrodesulfurization, in short they use Cobalt to help remove sulphur from these fuels [source].
Cobalt is also a key ingredient in every Smartphone, Laptop and pretty much anything with a battery in so we should all care about this issue and not just point the finger at electric cars.
Regardless, I’m sure we can all agree that Responsible Mineral sourcing is vitally important but if there is only an finite amount of it available we should be looking at alternatives regardless.
Tesla have begun phasing it out and the remaining cobalt they are securing is being sourced “conflict free” https://electrek.co/2020/06/16/tesla-secures-cobalt-deal-controversial-material/
Tesla say “The cobalt content of our Nickel-Cobalt-Aluminum cathode chemistry is already lower than next-generation cathodes that will be made by other cell producers with a Nickel-Maneganese-Cobalt ratio of 8:1:1. As a result, even with its battery, the gross weight of Model 3 is on par with its gasoline-powered counterparts.” [source]
Tesla say “Tesla is committed to sourcing responsibly and considers mining activities that fuel conflict as unacceptable. All of our contracts require suppliers to adhere to Tesla policies, which include our Supplier Code of Conduct, Human Rights and Conflict Minerals Policy and environmental and safety requirements. As part of this, Tesla’s suppliers are expected to use reasonable efforts to ensure that parts and products supplied to Tesla are “conflict free,” meaning that such mining or mineral trading does not directly or indirectly finance or benefit armed groups in the DRC or any other countries.” [source]