A video of a rescue operation at a gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been falsely shared as being the result of "slave labor for lithium"

By: Ankita Kulkarni
April 5 2023

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A video of a rescue operation at a gold mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been falsely shared as being the result of


The Verdict False

The video shows a man rescuing people from the debris after heavy rainfall caused a gold mine to collapse in the D.R.C. It is not a lithium mine.

Claim ID 72040089


A Facebook video shared on March 30, 2023, shows a man digging through the mud on a slope and pulling people from a hole who can later be seen coming out of the rubble and sliding down. The text on the video reads, "Cost of saving the environment" and "Slave labor for lithium batteries." The caption states, "Ecofriendly industry" and adds hashtags, "#climatechange #salvery." The video insinuates that this happened at a lithium mine and the video shows "slaves" at the mine. 

Countries worldwide are switching from conventional fossil fuel vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs) that run on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries require lithium — a raw material extracted from the earth's core. This extraction has caused concern, and its sustainability as a "green energy" source is under debate. While the video has been shared in this context, it has been miscaptioned. 

In Fact

Reuters reported on March 28, 2023, that nine Congolese miners were trapped at a gold mine that collapsed due to heavy rainfall on March 25, 2023, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) in South Kivu province, and included the same viral video in the article. Reuters independently verified the video and quoted local civil society representative Crispin Kayuka, who said, "We quickly mobilized people to clear the rubble that was blocking the entrance. It was on the morning of this Saturday that they managed to save these nine souls." The report added that a lack of safety measures is the root cause of frequent tunnel collapses at Congolese mines, meaning trapped workers are often not likely to survive. 

CNN News also confirmed that the video emerged after a gold mine collapsed in the D.R.C, not a lithium mine. Though there are some lithium and cobalt mines in the D.R.C., there is no official information of any such mine collapse in the country. 

The post indirectly questions the sustainability of EVs using lithium, stating that at the "Cost of saving the environment," people are being exposed to dangerous lithium mines. Logically has previously highlighted that EV battery production contributes to destructive mining and abusive employment practices. Additionally, an Amnesty report in 2016 stated that cobalt mines (a material required for lithium-ion batteries) often depend on child labor and workers are subjected to excessive working hours, unsafe working conditions, degrading treatment, discrimination, and racism.

Environmentally, since lithium batteries contain highly reactive elements, improper disposal causes fires, and metal leaks can contaminate the soil and groundwater, threatening ecosystems and human health. Although lithium extraction has been heavily associated with social and environmental harm, the video in question does not show depict these harms.

The Verdict

The video shows miners trapped in a gold mine, not in a lithium mine. The video has been miscaptioned and incorrectly used to further narratives about the social harms of lithium extraction. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false.

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We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before