Author Archives: Joshua King

Indian exporters all set to board Amazon’s Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales

Indian exporters all set to board Amazon's Black Friday, Cyber Monday sales

More than 70,000 Indian exporters, who are part of Amazon India’s ‘Global Selling program’, will showcase millions of ‘Made in India’ products customers world-wide during the annual Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) sale. 

According to Amazon India, the country’s exporters are launching over 52,000 new products on Amazon’s global websites for the upcoming holiday season. Also, to make things easy for sellers in India, Amazon Global Selling has introduced language support for them in Hindi and Tamil 

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Global Rivalries Are Miring the Clean Energy Revolution

Global Rivalries Are Miring the Clean Energy Revolution

KISANFU, Democratic Republic of Congo — Just up a red dirt road, across an expanse of tall, dew-soaked weeds, bulldozers are hollowing out a yawning new canyon that is central to the world’s urgent race against global warming.

For more than a decade, the vast expanse of untouched land was controlled by an American company. Now a Chinese mining conglomerate has bought it, and is racing to retrieve its buried treasure: millions of tons of cobalt.

At 73, Kyahile Mangi has lived here long enough to predict the path ahead. Once the blasting starts, the walls of mud-brick homes will crack. Chemicals will seep into the river where women do laundry and dishes while worrying about hippo attacks. Soon a manager from the mine will announce that everyone needs to be relocated.

“We know our ground is rich,” said Mr. Mangi, a village chief who also knows residents will share little of the mine’s wealth.

This wooded stretch of southeast Democratic Republic of Congo, called Kisanfu, holds one of the largest and purest untapped reserves of cobalt in the world.

The gray metal, typically extracted from copper deposits, has historically been of secondary interest to miners. But demand is set to explode worldwide because it is used in electric-car batteries, helping them run longer without a charge.

Outsiders discovering — and exploiting — the natural resources of this impoverished Central African country are following a tired colonial-era pattern. The United States turned to Congo for uranium to help build the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then spent decades, and billions of dollars, seeking to protect its mining interests here.

Now, with more than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt production coming from Congo, the country is once again taking center stage as major automakers commit to battling climate change by transitioning from gasoline-burning vehicles to battery-powered ones. The new automobiles rely on a host of minerals and metals often not abundant in the United States or the oil-rich Middle East, which sustained the last energy era.

But the quest for Congo’s cobalt has demonstrated how the clean energy revolution, meant to save the planet from perilously warming temperatures in an age of enlightened self-interest, is caught in a familiar cycle of exploitation, greed and gamesmanship that often puts narrow national aspirations above all else, an investigation by The New York Times found.

The Times dispatched reporters across three continents drawn into the competition for cobalt, a relatively obscure raw material that along with lithium, nickel and graphite has gained exceptional value in a world trying to set fossil fuels aside.

More than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of documents show that the race for cobalt has set off a power struggle in Congo, a storehouse of these increasingly prized resources, and lured foreigners intent on dominating the next epoch in global energy.

In particular, a rivalry between China and the United States could have far-reaching implications for the shared goal of safeguarding the earth. At least here in Congo, China is so far winning that contest, with both the Obama and Trump administrations having stood idly by as a company backed by the Chinese government bought two of the country’s largest cobalt deposits over the past five years.

As the significance of those purchases becomes clearer, China and the United States have entered a new “Great Game” of sorts. This past week, during a visit promoting electric vehicles at a General Motors factory in Detroit, President Biden acknowledged the United States had lost some ground. “We risked losing our edge as a nation, and China and the rest of the world are catching up,” he said. “Well, we’re about to turn that around in a big, big way.”

China Molybdenum, the new owner of the Kisanfu site since late last year, bought it from Freeport-McMoRan, an American mining giant with a checkered history that five years ago was one of the largest producers of cobalt in Congo — and now has left the country entirely.

In June, just six months after the sale, the Biden administration warned that China might use its growing dominance of cobalt to disrupt the American push toward electric vehicles by squeezing out U.S. manufacturers. In response, the United States is pressing for access to cobalt supplies from allies, including Australia and Canada, according to a national security official with knowledge of the matter.

American automakers like Ford, General Motors and Tesla buy cobalt battery components from suppliers that depend in part on Chinese-owned mines in Congo. A Tesla longer-range vehicle requires about 10 pounds of cobalt, more than 400 times the amount in a cellphone.

Already, tensions over minerals and metals are rattling the electric vehicle market.

Deadly rioting in July near a port in South Africa, where much of Congo’s cobalt is exported to China and elsewhere, caused a global jump in the metal’s prices, a surge that only worsened through the rest of the year.

Last month, the mining industry’s leading forecaster said the rising cost of raw materials was likely to drive up battery costs for the first time in years, threatening to disrupt automakers’ plans to attract customers with competitively priced electric cars.

Jim Farley, Ford’s chief executive, said the mineral supply crunch needed to be confronted.

“We have to solve these things,” he said at an event in September, “and we don’t have much time.”

Automakers like Ford are spending billions of dollars to build their own battery plants in the United States, and are rushing to curb the need for newly mined cobalt by developing lithium iron phosphate substitutes or turning to recycling. As a result, a Ford spokeswoman said, “we do not see cobalt as a constraining issue.”

Increased mining and refining of cobalt by Chinese companies has helped meet the growing demand and advanced the fight against climate change. But as more electric vehicles are produced by more automakers worldwide, the International Energy Agency expects a cobalt shortage by 2030, based on an analysis of existing mines and those under construction. Other forecasters say a shortage could hit as soon as 2025.

A review by The Times of documents filed with regulatory authorities in China shows the acquisitions in Congo have followed a disciplined playbook, announced with great fanfare by Beijing in 2015, to dominate the world’s emerging clean energy economy.

As of last year, 15 of the 19 cobalt-producing mines in Congo were owned or financed by Chinese companies, according to a data analysis by The Times and Benchmark Mineral Intelligence. The biggest alternative to Chinese operators is Glencore, a Switzerland-based company that runs two of the largest cobalt mines there.

These Chinese companies have received at least $12 billion in loans and other financing from state-backed institutions, and are likely to have drawn billions more. In fact, the five biggest Chinese mining companies in Congo had lines of credit from state-backed banks that totaled $124 billion, according to the documents reviewed by The Times, even though one of them, China Molybdenum, described itself as “a pure business entity” traded on two stock exchanges.

China’s goal is to control the global supply chain from the metals in the ground to the batteries themselves, no matter where the vehicles are made. The approach, in part, echoes Henry Ford’s investments in Amazonian rubber plantations as the auto industry turned to mass production in the early 20th century.

The forested mine site at Kisanfu was just one of two major purchases in recent years by China Molybdenum. The first came in 2016, when it took control of Tenke Fungurume, a mine that on its own produces twice as much cobalt as any other country in the world. At least $1.59 billion of the $2.65 billion Tenke Fungurume price tag, financial records show, came from loans provided by Chinese state-owned banks.

As the Chinese were stepping up their focus on green energy in 2016, the soon-to-be U.S. president, Donald J. Trump, was extolling the fossil fuel industry, campaigning in West Virginia with a hard hat and shovel and falsely promising coal miners that “you’re going to be working your asses off!” After taking office, Mr. Trump would roll back requirements on American automakers intended to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, giving the Chinese an even wider lane.

“It is pretty heartbreaking what happened here,” said Nicole Widdersheim, who worked on Africa issues for the National Security Council during the Trump administration. “Just so stupid.”

The frenzy for Congo’s cobalt has attracted an international cast of opportunists, luminaries and shadowy characters eager to benefit. At one point, it also drew in a Chinese-based private equity firm that Hunter Biden helped found and that was later scrutinized in the 2020 presidential campaign.

At the same time, Chinese companies are running into new headwinds from Congo’s government, according to documents obtained by The Times and interviews with current and former senior U.S. officials.

Congolese officials are carrying out a broad review of past mining contracts, work they are doing with financial help from the American government as part of its broader anti-corruption effort. They are examining whether companies are fulfilling their contractual obligations, including a 2008 commitment from China to deliver billions of dollars’ worth of new roads, bridges, power plants and other infrastructure.

Congo’s president, Felix Tshisekedi, in August named a commission to investigate allegations that China Molybdenum, the company that bought the two Freeport-McMoRan properties, might have cheated the Congolese government out of billions of dollars in royalty payments. The company risks being expelled from Congo.

At the Tenke Fungurume mine, there have long been problems associated with trespassers from nearby villages scavenging for cobalt. After China Molybdenum called on the government to help, Congolese troops fired on a trespasser inside the mine’s gates, killing him, as well as a second person who was shot after riots broke out in protest, witnesses and local officials told The Times.

Separately, at least a dozen employees or contractors at the mine told The Times that Chinese ownership had led to a drastic decline in safety and an increase in injuries, many of which were not reported to management. Two Congolese safety officers said workers were assaulted after they raised concerns and were offered bribes to cover up accidents.

“Things are falling apart in terms of safety,” said Alfred Kiloko Makeba, who retired last year after a decade working as a safety supervisor at the mine.

Vincent Zhou, a spokesman for China Molybdenum, rejected claims that the company had cheated the Congolese government or relaxed safety standards, saying the opposite was true, and questioned if there was an organized effort to undermine the company.

China has an idiom that goes something like: “Where there is a will to condemn, evidence will follow,” Mr. Zhou said in a written response to The Times. “Vaguely I feel that we may be caught in the gaming of greater powers.”

African countries for years have been turning to China for help building infrastructure with loans or trades involving their natural resources — deals that analysts warn provide far more benefit to the Chinese.

A blueprint for those deals, now common across the continent, was sketched out in 2005 when Joseph Kabila walked into the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Mr. Kabila, then just 33, was the new president of Congo after the assassination of his father, another tragic milepost on the poverty-stricken country’s road of violence and political disruption.

China was familiar territory for Mr. Kabila, who had received military training there in the late 1990s. This visit was about enlisting the help of President Hu Jintao in turning around Congo’s economy.

The United States, which had long provided economic and military assistance to Congo, was locked in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and had become increasingly uninterested in the country. Congo’s poor record on graft and human rights was also scaring away many international banks and Western investors.

Mr. Kabila’s wish list was long: He wanted new roads, schools and hospitals as part of a revival plan that, he hoped, would endear him back home to a nation exhausted and dispirited by years of conflict and corruption.

In exchange, he was prepared to offer up his country’s vast mineral wealth — unparalleled in much of the world.

In the imposing hall on Tiananmen Square, the two presidents outlined a deal that would change Central Africa’s balance of power, according to André Kapanga, a former adviser to Mr. Kabila who offered details of the meeting for the first time in an interview with The Times.

Mr. Hu explained that many people in China’s western provinces lived in deep poverty. Developing the area was a cornerstone of his domestic policy, and he needed minerals and metals to build out new industries. Congo was ready to help, Mr. Kabila assured him.

China had already acquired raw materials from Congo’s neighbor, Angola, where it offered generous financial support in exchange for oil.

But this potential deal with Mr. Kabila was more ambitious than any other, and a diplomatic drama would play out at the riverside Palais de la Nation in the capital of Kinshasa before it was sealed.

The setting was Mr. Kabila’s inauguration in 2006, after he stood before voters in a formal election and won the presidency. The Bush administration sent a delegation led by Elaine Chao, then the secretary of labor.

Mr. Kabila liked motorcycles, and she presented him with a Harley-Davidson trinket when she greeted him at a lunch. That would be the extent of their interaction, Ms. Chao believed, but members of her delegation urged her to ask for a private meeting, according to Laura Genero, an associate deputy labor secretary who was on the trip. To her surprise, Mr. Kabila complied with a meeting the next day.

Ms. Chao was so unprepared for the invitation that she had to borrow a beige pantsuit from Ms. Genero. She had packed just one work outfit.

The U.S. delegation congratulated Mr. Kabila on his democratic victory and listened as he talked about wanting to expand access to electricity across the nation. One of his aides characterized the meeting as mostly small talk.

But a similar meeting between the new president and Chinese officials played out differently, according to Mr. Kapanga, who was briefed on both the U.S. and Chinese discussions.

The Chinese used the opportunity to begin formal talks with Mr. Kabila that would result in a $6 billion agreement: China would pay for roads, hospitals, rail lines, schools and projects to expand electricity, all in exchange for access to 10 million tons of copper and more than 600,000 tons of cobalt.

The local media called it the “the deal of the century,” and while Mr. Kabila celebrated the agreement, the global financial community reacted more warily, worried Congo was taking on too much debt.

American officials marveled at the deal’s historic scale. In secret cables made public by WikiLeaks, they noted that previous Chinese investment in Congo had been “an informal, somewhat disorganized collection of Chinese businesses” that did not seriously threaten U.S. interests.

Now something much grander was in the making: “2,000 miles of roadway linking Orientale and Katanga provinces, 31 hospitals, 145 health centers, two large universities and 5,000 government housing units are pledged,” according to a cable in 2008 from the U.S. embassy in Kinshasa to members of the Central Intelligence Agency, the secretary of state and other officials.

“And that’s not all,” the cable continued.

By 2015, China’s presence in Congo had become visible in numerous infrastructure projects: Soccer stadiums rose from the dust, roadways were expanded, work began on water treatment facilities.

But not all of its progress in cornering the cobalt market could be measured in brick and mortar. The Chinese ambassador at the time, Wang Tongqing, kicked off an American-style diplomatic blitz.

Mr. Wang threw out the jump ball that year at a Chinese corporate basketball tournament that drew Congolese spectators.

He gave out scholarships to Congolese students to study in China and was on hand when a Chinese organization donated plane tickets for a Congolese choir to tour his country. At one point, he offered $1 million for Ebola relief in Congo.

Mr. Wang’s activities coincided with the 2015 rollout of his country’s “Made in China 2025” policy, which detailed China’s plan to transform itself into a “manufacturing superpower” in 10 areas, including batteries for electric vehicles.

Almost instantly a tidal wave of government-backed capital poured into Chinese companies in Congo and elsewhere. Deals quickly followed.

That year, the state-owned China Nonferrous Metal Mining Group said it would partner with Congo’s state mining company, Gécamines, to develop the Deziwa site, then one of the largest copper and cobalt concessions in the country.

In 2017, Zijin Mining, a Chinese state-backed company with a slogan of “Harmony Begets Wealth,” raised almost $700 million from a sale of private shares to develop its Kolwezi mine.

Public statements about the deals signaled some of China’s ambition, but the history and scale of the effort have not been previously reported.

Corporate filings, including annual reports and bond prospectuses, examined by The Times show that the five biggest Chinese companies in Congo had been given at least $124 billion in credit lines for their global operations. All of the companies are state-owned or have significant minority stakes held by various levels of the Chinese government.

“Unlike the U.S., the Chinese government is always behind Chinese investors in Africa and more specifically in D.R.C.,” said Mr. Kapanga, the former adviser to Mr. Kabila.

The biggest deal came in April 2016, when China Molybdenum, a company whose biggest shareholders are a government-owned company and a reclusive billionaire, made its $2.65 billion offer to buy Tenke Fungurume, an American-owned mine atop one of the biggest cobalt reserves in the world.

There was one complication. Freeport-McMoRan had a Canadian partner that had the right of first offer to buy its stake. China Molybdenum’s solution was to have a Shanghai-based private equity firm buy out the partner, but even that deal relied on money from the Chinese government.

None of the $1.14 billion raised to buy the partner’s share came from private investors, company filings show. Instead, it came from Chinese state-controlled entities, including from bank loans guaranteed by China Molybdenum as well as cash brought to the deal through obscure shell companies controlled by government-owned banks, according to the filings.

The board of the private equity firm, commonly known as BHR, was dominated by Chinese members but also included three Americans: Devon Archer, a businessman who later was convicted of defrauding the Oglala Sioux tribe in a case still working through the legal system, and James Bulger, son of the former president of the Massachusetts State Senate.

Another was Hunter Biden, whose father was vice president at the time.

It is not clear if Mr. Biden, who had helped found the firm in 2013, was involved in the deal. Mr. Biden did not respond to requests for comment. A former member of the BHR board, who was not authorized to speak about internal business matters, said that none of the Americans had played a role and that the fees generated for the work had not been distributed to Mr. Biden or others. A spokesman for President Biden on Friday said he had not been made aware of his son’s connection to the sale.

How and why the firm had become involved was a mystery to the chief executive who negotiated the sale for Freeport-McMoRan’s Canadian-based partner, Lundin Mining.

“Were they a partner, their adviser or a financier? I don’t know,” said Paul Conibear, then Lundin’s chief executive.

An elaborate event under white tents in Kinshasa celebrated China’s new ownership in May 2017. Mr. Wang was there along with Chinese officials who had helped finance the purchase — and a host of Chinese government-affiliated bankers looking to make even more mining deals.

Within a few years, they would help orchestrate China Molybdenum’s purchase of Kisanfu, the huge untapped cobalt reserve, from the same American mining giant. Together the sales marked a changing of the guard in Congo as the United States abandoned its mining interests — a problem that now weighs on President Biden as he and his aides have come to realize the extent of China’s dominance in clean energy.

“The D.R.C. has a vast territory, rich natural resources and great investment potential,” Mr. Wang told the crowd. “A Chinese proverb says, ‘Build a beautiful nest to attract the phoenix.’”

At first, the changes seemed almost trivial at Tenke Fungurume — a 24-hour operation that employs more than 7,000 across a landscape the size of Los Angeles marked by deep craters and dust kicked up by earth-moving vehicles.

The new Chinese managers showed up in shorts and sneakers, a shock to employees who had been required to wear steel-toed boots and safety goggles.

“We were like, ‘Oh, this is not possible,’” said Pierrot Kitobo Sambisaya, who worked as a metallurgist at the mine for a decade until 2019 and had grown accustomed to a stricter environment.

Soon, work anniversaries came and went with no recognition. Holiday parties where workers’ families were invited to tour the mine no longer took place. Dozens of janitor and driver jobs once held by Congolese citizens went to the Chinese.

That was just the start. Employees were concerned that the mine was also becoming more dangerous, according to interviews with workers in communities surrounding the mine, current and former safety inspectors, Congolese government officials and mining executives.

Workers climbed into acid tanks to conduct repairs without checking the air quality. Others drove bulldozers and other heavy equipment without training or did dangerous welding jobs without proper oversight.

Last year, a worker was sitting in his truck while it was being towed, and it flipped. The worker tried to jump to safety, but the truck landed on him and crushed him to death, according to an annual operations report from China Molybdenum.

All of it was an extreme departure from the company’s American predecessor, which had “zero tolerance” for risky activities and safety violations, according to Alfred Kiloko Makeba, the veteran safety supervisor, and 10 other current and former employees, managers and contractors.

Freeport-McMoRan, which had built the mine, had learned some hard lessons years before at its copper and gold mine in Indonesia, facing international protest over its dumping toxic mine waste into a river in the rainforest as well as violent conflicts over its operations there.

In Congo, the company had its own struggles as it moved to build Tenke Fungurume, displacing more than 1,500 residents in a haphazard process. But once the mine opened, it gained an unusual amount of respect for its commitment to worker safety, both among local officials and U.S. diplomats.

Worker safety is an issue at other industrial mines in Congo, but under Freeport, employees who violated rules were immediately disciplined or fired, safety officers said. Records examined by The Times show just one reported death among workers during the eight years Freeport-McMoRan ran the mine, although it repeatedly published accounts of near-fatal accidents as cautionary guides.

When safety inspectors discovered violations after China Molybdenum took over, they were sometimes told to overlook them, or offered bribes to do so, workers and supervisors said. And when they did try to enforce the rules, violence sometimes followed.

One safety officer said he was thrown to the ground by a worker he had called out for improperly using welding equipment. The man twisted his arm and broke his cellphone and work-issue camera.

An executive at Gécamines, the Congolese agency that is a minority shareholder in the mine, said employees had reported confrontations and safety problems to the agency’s board. Safety issues are now part of a broader review of China Molybdenum’s operations.

Mr. Zhou, the China Molybdenum spokesman, denied that any inspectors had been assaulted. The allegations, he suggested, were probably being fabricated by fired employees.

In a statement to The Times, he said the mine had “a robust occupational health and safety framework in place and continues to exercise its zero tolerance rules.” In fact, he said, “internal statistics” published in a company report this year showed that worker injuries had declined since the company took over.

But employees who said they had been repeatedly told not to report injuries believed the data was being fixed as part of a campaign to cover up rising hazards.

That suggestion, which The Times was not able to independently confirm and which China Molybdenum disputed, was crystallized for Mr. Makeba one evening last year when he received an urgent phone call. A worker at the mine had fallen from a high perch after not wearing the required safety harness, he said.

Mr. Makeba rushed to the site and was shocked to learn, he said, that the worker, who had broken his leg, had been taken to a private clinic instead of the mine’s.

Mr. Makeba said the employee told him that his supervisors had paid him to keep quiet so that it would not be reported to management, where it would show up on the company’s audited injury tally.

When Mr. Makeba alerted his own boss, he said, he was told to drop the matter.

Mr. Zhou rejected Mr. Makeba’s account, adding that “any form of cover-up in disclosures is against rules, and corporate values.”

But according to Mr. Makeba and another safety manager still working at the mine, labor conditions have become increasingly important to automakers sensitive to consumer and shareholder demands. So China Molybdenum, they said, has blocked them from reporting near fatalities and routinely ignored other injuries.

“Safety is just on paper now,” Mr. Makeba said.

Problems at Tenke Fungurume are not just limited to employees’ complaints inside the mine.

Freeport-McMoRan had struggled with trespassers who carted off bags of cobalt. Some even died when hand-dug tunnels flooded or collapsed.

With China Molybdenum in charge, the conflict became much worse.

The company, faced with thousands of newly arriving trespassers, asked the government to send soldiers to help control the situation, one executive who worked at the mine back then told The Times.

The military arrived and began patrolling Tenke Fungurume and other local mines, bulldozing depots where trespassers were selling their cobalt rocks to traders.

The troops remained for months, and the situation eventually turned deadly. A soldier at Tenke Fungurume opened fire, killing an unauthorized digger, according to an employee who told The Times he had witnessed the encounter.

Riots then erupted in the man’s home village when friends arrived carrying his body. In the melee, a protester was shot dead, according to three local officials and the mine employee.

China Molybdenum paid for the burials, they said.

Troops with AK-47s were posted outside the mine this year, along with security guards hired from a company founded by Erik Prince, the former Navy SEAL turned private security consultant.

Even as this crackdown on theft was underway, the new managers at the mine were looking for ways to cut costs while increasing production.

China Molybdenum said it had saved more than $130 million a year through its “cost and efficiency” programs. “New management revitalizes the business by bringing ‘Chinese efficiency and Chinese elements,’” the company boasts on its website.

China Molybdenum is steadily growing its output. Last December, it snatched up Kisanfu, paying Freeport-McMoRan $550 million for what is considered one of the world’s largest untapped supplies of cobalt. The ground underneath the site contains enough cobalt, according to China Molybdenum’s estimates, to power hundreds of millions of long-range Teslas.

And then in August, China Molybdenum announced plans to spend $2.5 billion at Tenke Fungurume to double production over the next two years. When the expansion is complete, the mine will produce nearly 40,000 tons a year. Last year, the United States produced just 600 tons.

This rush to expand, however, has drawn scrutiny from top government officials in Congo, reaching all the way to Mr. Tshisekedi, the president.

Questions have surfaced over payments Tenke Fungurume’s operators may owe to Congo, dating back to when the American company controlled the mine. When new deposits are confirmed at Tenke Fungurume, the owners are required to notify Gécamines, the Congolese agency, and pay $12 for every additional ton.

The accusations have provoked a bitter dispute between Congolese officials and the mine managers, with China Molybdenum’s spokesman calling the allegations “unbelievable, wrong calculations” based on an accounting error.

Gécamines executives have discussed forcing out the management at Tenke Fungurume or even taking the mine out of China Molybdenum’s control, according to two Congolese mining executives involved in confidential discussions as well as a government official briefed on the talks.

Robert North, a New Mexico-based geologist who has helped prepare reserve estimates at the mine for Freeport and China Molybdenum, said both companies as well as Gécamines knew of large amounts of cobalt underground at the site. China Molybdenum has been cautious in declaring it, he said, until the company knows it wants to go to the expense of extracting the deeper layers.

Mr. Tshisekedi’s commission is still investigating the allegations, and the president himself recently presided over a tense, six-hour meeting with top company executives.

Separately, the Congolese government, with financial assistance from the United States, is examining numerous mining contracts to determine whether Congo has been shortchanged more broadly. While the Chinese-funded infrastructure projects got off to a flashy start, many have not been built, officials said.

During a visit to the cobalt-mining region this year, the president acknowledged that corrupt or incompetent government officials in Congo might deserve some blame for deals that have left the nation feeling shortchanged.

“Some of our compatriots had badly negotiated the mining contracts,” he said. “I’m very harsh on these investors who come to enrich themselves alone. They come with empty pockets and leave as billionaires.”

Chinese government officials insist that the relationship is still on track and that the benefits to Congo are substantial.

The countries have a “longstanding friendship, and the bilateral practical cooperation has yielded fruitful win-win results and enjoys broad prospects,” Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a news conference in September.

In an interview in Kinshasa, Mr. Tshisekedi said that his focus was not on which foreign power would dominate mining in Congo, but rather on how his country could share in the wealth generated by the clean energy revolution.

“We have an amazing potential for renewable energy, be it through our strategic metals or through our rivers,” he said, referring to both mining and hydroelectric power. “Our idea is, how can we put this amazing resource at the disposal of the world, but while making sure that it first benefits Congolese and it benefits Africans?”

Dionne Searcey reported from Kisanfu, Michael Forsythe from New York and Eric Lipton from Washington. Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Shanghai.

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Virginia offshore wind farm takes another step forward

Virginia offshore wind farm takes another step forward

Virginia offshore wind farm takes another step forward – Renewable Energy World

Home News Virginia offshore wind farm takes another step forward

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Best portfolio website builders of 2021

Best portfolio website builders of 2021

The best website builder for portfolios will make it easy to publish and manage your photographs and other artwork online.

Creating a new website is a lot easier than it used to be – rather than learning HTML and CSS, you can just click and drag with your mouse and have something very professional-looking on the internet in minutes, and portfolio website builders are no different.

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Pfizer Says Its Vaccine Is Highly Effective in 5- to 11-Year-Olds

Pfizer Says Its Vaccine Is Highly Effective in 5- to 11-Year-Olds

Pfizer reported data on Friday showing that its coronavirus vaccine had a 90.7 percent efficacy rate in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 in a clinical trial of children ages 5 to 11.

The company submitted the information to the Food and Drug Administration, which was expected to release its own analysis of the data later in the day.

Children in the trial received a dose of 10 micrograms, smaller than the 30-microgram dose given to adults. The company said that the dosage was safe, and that trial participants had seen only mild side effects.

Of 2,268 children in the trial, twice as many were given the vaccine as received a placebo. Sixteen children who received the placebo got Covid-19, compared with three who received the vaccine.

The F.D.A. released the data before a meeting next week at which expert advisers to the F.D.A. will decide whether to recommend that the agency authorize the vaccine for children in this age group. Federal regulators have already made the vaccine available for those 12 and older.

If the F.D.A. authorizes the vaccine for ages 5 to 11 — a move that could help protect more than 28 million people in the United States — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will then make recommendations to the agency next month on how the shots should be administered.

According to federal data, 66 percent of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, while 57 percent are fully vaccinated.

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Council endorses BE Power to progress to next stage for 400-MW Big-T pumped storage

Council endorses BE Power to progress to next stage for 400-MW Big-T pumped storage

Council endorses BE Power to progress to next stage for 400-MW Big-T pumped storage – Renewable Energy World

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Dairy products, types and  their nutritional value

Dairy products, types and their nutritional value

Dairy products are products that are produced mainly from fresh milk. Their production is done with the help of special enzymes, which cause the coagulation of the proteins it contains.
It is rich in vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, saturated fats, carbohydrates, but also in proteins of high biological value, which are the main structural component of the body and ensure its proper functioning and muscle growth.

Dairy products are yogurt, cheese, butter, ice cream and of course milk.


Yogurt is a dairy product, produced after the fermentation of milk, with special lactic acid bacteria. These bacteria are a combination of lactic bacillus (Lactobacillus bulgaricus) and a lactic streptococcus (Streptococcus thermophilus), which, acting together, cause the milk to coagulate and form the special taste characteristics of yogurt.
Bacteria should be abundant and alive in the final product, throughout its life, because their action is due to the beneficial properties of yogurt.

Yogurt is a very nutritious and digestible food, suitable for all ages and of course for all stages of development. It contains a high percentage of protein, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamins A, B2 and B12. The combination of all these ingredients contributes to the rapid growth of the body and the maintenance of human health.

The proteins in yogurt are of high biological value, while their quality is superior to milk. In fact, their amount, like that of calcium, is much higher than that of milk, because all the ingredients are contained in concentrated form. In particular, these proteins are more easily digested because they are more vulnerable to digestive enzymes.

In fact, yogurt is fermented several times, with the result that it is digested (by 93%) by the intestine much more easily than milk. The rich nutrients contained in yogurt and the relatively low calories, help fight obesity.

A cup of yogurt is equivalent to a full meal and can replace our dinner, especially if we pay attention to our diet or to lose weight.

There are two types of yogurt on the market.

  1. The traditional , ie the classic yogurt in plain trays or in clay, which is like what we make in our homes, with the skin on the yogurt and all the nutrients, and the European type, which exists in many species, such as cow’s, sheep’s, strained yogurt, with 2% fat, etc.
  2. Other European-type yogurts are those that are mixed with fruit, cereals, honey and other items, which are made from cow’s milk only.

The difference between European and Traditional yogurts, is that the European type of yogurt, exists in many types but with the addition of preservatives, which make it keep for a long time in the refrigerator. Traditional yogurt, on the other hand, lasts a few days in the fridge like other yogurts, but is fresh and without preservatives, like homemade .


Cheese is the product produced by draining milk gel and is one of the oldest and most valuable foods in the human diet, with enormous nutritional value. It is rich in protein, calcium, vitamins A and D, B-complex vitamin and phosphorus. The proteins it contains are broken down, due to the maturation of the cheese, as a result of which they are fully assimilated by the body, which makes it more digestible.

  • The types of cheese depending on the fat they contain are divided into:
    Lean cheeses   with less than 10% fat (mizithra, feta, kefalotyri)
    Moderate   from 10 – 50% fat (feta, parmesan, kefalotyri, gruyere
    Thick cheeses   with 50% – 85 % fat (manouri, kasseri, touloumotyri, roquefort).

The cheese should be stored at + 2 ° C to + 4 ° C in their original packaging (plastic bag or container). Once opened, they are best kept in a transparent film, foil or plastic food storage container, which helps retain their moisture. Cheeses with a strong smell, such as feta, should be stored in a separate container, so that the smell is not transferred to other foods.

After the cheeses are opened from their original packaging and left in the refrigerator for a few days, it is very likely that mold marks will be observed on their outer surface. This is due to the microorganisms called Eurotum fungi, which grow and form colored spots on their surface, commonly mold, while tarnishing their fat.

Although most forms of mold are harmless to the body, to be safer, remove with a knife about 2 cm from the surface of the cheese where mold is observed. Consume the rest of the cheese in a short time.

The deterioration of cheeses depends on their moisture content. The higher the humidity, the easier it is to damage. In general, the harder the cheese, the longer it lasts, so soft cheeses should be consumed shortly after purchase.

Hard cheeses are stored for one to two months, while softer cheeses are stored for one to three weeks after opening, if stored in an airtight container. Also, cheeses last longer when they are cut into pieces than when they are grated. However the cheeses are still maturing, no matter how well stored.

The cheese melts faster when it is cut into small pieces or grated. When adding cheese to boiling food, lower the heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. The strong fire hardens the cheese and turns it into fine fibers. When making cheese sauce, put the cheese at the end and stir until it starts to melt.


Butter is produced from fat, the cream that contains whole, non-homogenized milk, by the method of culmination, ie the agglomeration of fat pellets and the differentiation of its density from milk. Thus, the fat rises to the surface, collects and matures with the help of microorganisms (betacoccus citrovolus and betacoccus paracitrovolus). Alternatively, buttering is carried out by placing the milk in a special container and after sufficient beating (defrosting). Buttering is completed by heating the butter to a certain temperature to get its final shape. The butter before packaging is washed with cold water to clean the buttermilk.

Butter is a source of fat, rich in saturated fat and cholesterol. It also contains small amounts of lactose and proteins, vitamins and minerals. It has a high caloric value and its consumption offers the feeling of satiety.
Butter has been known since antiquity, especially in areas that did not have olive oil or other fatty options and was used to enrich their food.
Today it is used as such, as a spread and as an additive fat in cooking and confectionery.

Ice cream

Ice cream is equivalent to a second glass of milk and is classified as a safe food because it is stored and consumed frozen. The sandy texture that is often observed in ice cream, from the crystallization of lactose in milk, is not an alteration. The consumer must be careful with the ice creams that are packaged. Not to be deformed in terms of their shape but also not to have thawed and re-frozen. Ice creams from well-known companies are preferred so that we can be sure about the pasteurization of the raw material, milk.

Alternative foods for those who avoid dairy

People who suffer from bloating, indigestion, nausea and abdominal pain, after consuming dairy products, usually avoid their consumption, thus depriving their body of important nutrients.
At the same time, fanatical vegetarians, who do not consume any dairy products, lack equally significant amounts of nutrients that could be covered by milk and their derivatives.
Although no food can completely replace the dairy group, there are some foods that are very good sources of nutrients and can meet the basic needs and functions of our body.

These foods are:

  • Legumes, dried fruits, sesame, broccoli, and sardines (rich in calcium).
  • Dried fruits, avocados, bananas, tomatoes, peaches, eggs. (rich in potassium).
  • Meat, fish, mushrooms, eggs (rich in B vitamins).
  • Almond or rice milk.
  • Soy milk. Only prefer it if it has added calcium.
  • Orange juice, preferably fortified with calcium.

Read more about dairy products and dairy machinery:

Afghan Uyghurs Fear Taliban Will Deport Them to China

Afghan Uyghurs Fear Taliban Will Deport Them to China

Ibrahim’s parents fled political turmoil in China for Afghanistan more than 50 years ago. At that time, Mao Zedong had unleashed the Cultural Revolution, and life was upended for many Uyghurs, the mostly Muslim ethnic group in Xinjiang that included Ibrahim’s parents.

Ibrahim was born in Afghanistan. But now he, too, is trying to escape the clutches of Chinese authoritarianism.

He and his family have been afraid to leave their home in Afghanistan since the Taliban, the country’s new rulers, took control last month, venturing outside only to buy essentials. “We are extremely worried and nervous,” said Ibrahim, whose full name is being withheld for his safety. “Our children are worried for our safety, so they have asked us to stay home.”

For years, Chinese officials have issued calls for leaders in Afghanistan to crack down on and deport Uyghur militants they claimed were sheltering in Afghanistan. The officials said the fighters belonged to the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a separatist organization that Beijing has held responsible for a series of terrorist attacks in China since the late 1990s.

The United States removed the East Turkestan Islamic Movement from its list of terrorist groups during the Trump administration, angering Beijing. But the Taliban, in their new role as diplomats, have been eager to establish warm relations with China, meeting most recently on Thursday with Chinese officials. Many Uyghurs in Afghanistan fear they will be branded terrorists and sent to China as pawns in the Taliban’s effort to win favor and economic aid from the country.

It is unclear whether Uyghurs in Afghanistan face an immediate threat to their safety, but some say they dread the future that would await them if they were sent to Xinjiang. Since 2017, the Chinese government has locked up close to a million Uyghurs in camps and subjected those outside to constant surveillance. China says the camps are necessary to weed out extremism and to “re-educate” the Uyghurs.

Before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, the Chinese government said it had received assurances from the insurgents that the country would not become a staging ground for terrorist attacks. Anxious Uyghurs in the country watched television footage of Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, standing side by side with leaders of the Taliban in July. Earlier this month, Mr. Wang pledged $30 million in food and other aid to the new government, as well as three million coronavirus vaccine doses; on Thursday, he said Afghanistan’s overseas assets “should not be unreasonably frozen or used as a bargaining chip to exert pressure,” obliquely referencing American control of billions of dollars belonging to the Afghan central bank.

Since the late 1990s, Beijing has succeeded in pressuring several countries to deport Uyghurs. The Uyghur Human Rights Project, an advocacy group based in Washington, has counted 395 cases of Uyghurs being sent to China since 1997. The group said in an August report that journalists and human rights organizations have documented 40 cases of detentions or renditions from Afghanistan to China, though it has verified only one of them.

Khorsid Hasan, a Uyghur retiree living in Virginia, said that after she contacted the Uyghur Human Rights Project in August, the group wrote a letter to the State Department urging American officials to address the vulnerability of Uyghurs in Afghanistan. Uyghurs in the country “fear more for their lives than ever before,” Ms. Khorsid said in an interview. “They hope to be evacuated as soon as possible.”

The rights group’s letter to the State Department warned of the grave fear that the Taliban “will now make secret agreements with China to extradite Uyghurs to the P.R.C.”

The Uyghur population in Afghanistan is estimated to be around 2,000 to 3,000. They arrived in waves, some as early as the 18th century. Many are second-generation immigrants with few links to China. Their parents joined an outflow of refugees from Xinjiang in the late 1970s, ending up in neighboring Afghanistan, where they settled and had families.

Those families are once again seeking to uproot their lives. Even though they are Afghan citizens, their identity cards show that they are either Chinese refugees or members of the ethnic group, making them easy to track should the Taliban decide to round them up.

The Taliban did not respond to requests for comment.

In the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Mohammad, a 39-year-old Uyghur farmer whose full name has been withheld to avoid reprisals, said he was so desperate to flee Afghanistan with his young family that he contacted human traffickers to help them get into Iran. He was told that it was impossible to do with the Taliban in charge, he said.

He has also contacted exile Uyghur groups in Germany and Turkey, and organizations providing refugee assistance in the United States and Canada with no success, he said.

Well before the Taliban took control, life was difficult for Uyghurs in Afghanistan, who often faced discrimination. Ibrahim, 54, said he kept a low profile as a businessman. “We tried our best to erase our identity as Uyghurs,” he said.

He and his wife, who is also Uyghur, live with their two daughters, 28 and 20, and a 25-year-old son, who has a 1-year-old baby. He said his children were depressed and passed their days surviving on food that they had stored away before the government collapsed.

Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan has been battered by food and cash shortages. People have been unable to withdraw money from banks. Grocery prices have shot up. The Taliban have also looked to China for help avoiding a possible economic collapse.

Andrew Small, a senior fellow with the German Marshall Fund who studies China’s policy in Afghanistan, said the Taliban had not previously demonstrated an “obvious willingness” to hand over Uyghurs to the Chinese, though he believed their fears were legitimate.

“The lines are blurred on China’s part between who constitutes a terrorist and who constitutes someone who has simply been politically active,” Mr. Small said. “Individuals who are politically and economically connected with any activities they find problematic” are likely to be targeted, he said.

The uncertain future of Uyghurs in Afghanistan has caught the attention of Abdul Aziz Naseri, a Uyghur activist who was born in Afghanistan and now lives in Turkey. Mr. Abdul Aziz said he had compiled a list of roughly 500 Afghan Uyghurs who want to leave the country.

“They say to me: ‘Please save our future, please save our children,’” he said.

He shared the names and photographs of these people with The New York Times, but asked that their information be kept private. At least 73 people on the list appeared to be under the age of 5.

Shabnam, a 32-year-old Uyghur, her mother and two sisters managed to get out of Afghanistan last month. The women rushed to the airport in Kabul during the frenzied United States evacuation. Her sisters boarded one flight, her mother another. Shabnam said she was the last to leave.

In an interview, she described being separated from her husband while getting through the chaotic security lines at the airport. She was holding his passport and begged the security guards to deliver it to him. No one helped, she said.

Shabnam waited for her husband for four days, while the people around her at the airport encouraged her to leave.

She finally did — boarding a U.S. military plane with hundreds of other Afghans late last month. Her trip took her to Qatar, Germany and finally the United States, where she landed on Aug. 26. She is now in New Jersey and still trying to get her husband out of Afghanistan.

“I was happy that I got out of there, thank God,” Shabnam said. “I like it here. It’s safe and secure.”

Nilo Tabrizy contributed reporting.

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