Cobalt

Cobalt

Cradle of the Demon Metals, Birth of a Mining Superpower

Written by: Angus, Charlie

The world is desperate for cobalt. It drives the proliferation of digital and clean technologies. But this “demon metal” has a horrific present and a troubled history.

The modern search for cobalt has brought investors back to a small town in Northern Canada, a place called Cobalt. Like the demon metal, this town has a dark and turbulent history. 

The tale of the early-twentieth-century mining rush at Cobalt has been told as a settler’s adventure, but Indigenous people had already been trading in metals from the region for two thousand years. And the events that happened here — the theft of Indigenous lands, the exploitation of a multicultural workforce, and the destruction of the natural environment — established a template for resource extraction that has been exported around the world. 

Charlie Angus reframes the complex and intersectional history of Cobalt within a broader international frame — from the conquistadores to the Western gold rush to the struggles in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. He demonstrates how Cobalt set Canada on its path to become the world’s dominant mining superpower.

The world is desperate for cobalt. It drives the proliferation of digital and clean technologies. But this “demon metal” has a horrific present and a troubled history.

The modern search for cobalt has brought investors back to a small town in Northern Canada, a place called Cobalt. Like the demon metal, this town has a dark and turbulent history. 

The tale of the early-twentieth-century mining rush at Cobalt has been told as a settler’s adventure, but Indigenous people had already been trading in metals from the region for two thousand years. And the events that happened here — the theft of Indigenous lands, the exploitation of a multicultural workforce, and the destruction of the natural environment — established a template for resource extraction that has been exported around the world. 

Charlie Angus reframes the complex and intersectional history of Cobalt within a broader international frame — from the conquistadores to the Western gold rush to the struggles in the Democratic Republic of Congo today. He demonstrates how Cobalt set Canada on its path to become the world’s dominant mining superpower.

Published By House of Anansi Press Inc — Feb 1, 2022
Specifications 336 pages | 5.5 in x 8.5 in
Written By

CHARLIE ANGUS has been the Member of Parliament for Timmins-James Bay since 2004. He is the author of eight books about the North, Indigenous issues, and mining culture, including the award-winning Children of the Broken Treaty. He is also the lead singer of the Juno-nominated alt country band Grievous Angels. Charlie and his wife, author Brit Griffin, raised their three daughters at an abandoned mine site in Cobalt, Ontario, that looks like a Crusader castle.

PRAISE FOR CHARLIE ANGUS AND COBALT

Cobalt is an epic story of a mostly forgotten town. From the silver screen to Silicon Valley, from the Guggenheims to the Montreal Canadiens, from the predatory capitalism of the Gilded Age to the Cold War to the globalized mining industry of the twenty-first century, the power unleashed in Cobalt more than a century ago continues to reverberate in Canada and the world. It is a cautionary tale of a land and economy based on resource extraction, and, as a northerner, I was at once elevated and infuriated by the events recounted so masterfully in this book. With Cobalt, Charlie Angus has hit paydirt.” — James Daschuk, author of Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life

“Fantastic! Gripping! A page-turner. In telling the story of Cobalt, Ontario, Charlie Angus has told the story of Canada: the rapacious search for easy wealth, the plunder of nature and Indigenous lands, the abuse of women and ethnic minorities, and the creation of a Canadian mining industry still leaving its terrible footprint in the Global South. But Cobalt is also the story of resistance and reconciliation; the birth of union power and the rights of working people; the collective fight for health care, education, and social security for all; and the pursuit of justice. The book is filled with great stories, larger-than-life characters, and rich history. I highly recommend it.” — Maude Barlow, activist and author

PRAISE FOR CHARLIE ANGUS AND CHILDREN OF THE BROKEN TREATY

Winner, 2016 Leadership Award by the Ontario History and Social Science Teachers Association (OHASSTA)

Winner, Foreword INDIES Award (Bronze, Political Science, Adult Nonfiction)
Winner of two Saskatchewan Book Awards: the University of Regina Faculty of Education and Campion College Award for Publishing in Education and the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport Publishing Award

“A legitimate must-read.” — Quill & Quire 

“This book affected me deeply. I highly recommend it.” — Vicky Johnston, Policy Options

“A very important book.” — Doug Cuthand, CBC News

“In reading this historic chronicle of the painful poverty among the Cree in James Bay, Ontario, Canada, I keep thinking how incredible it is that a member of parliament could care so much about his constituency and devote so much of his time to helping the beautiful people of the land of the Cree and Ojibway in sub-Arctic country.” — Alanis Obomsawin, filmmaker. 

“In this must-read book, Charlie Angus shares Shannen [Koostachin]’s inspiring journey from a child going to school in run down trailers next to a toxic waste dump to one of 45 children in the world nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Shannen did everything in her power to ensure First Nations children would get the proper education they deserve, and after reading this book you will, too.” — Cindy Blackstock, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada

“The book, along with Edmund Metatawabin’s Up Ghost River, tells the story of sustained evil done by our government to indigenous peoples, who have the right to the rights of Canadian citizens. This is discomforting reading, but essential.” — John Ralston Saul, author of The Comeback 

“If you think Canada provides equal treatment to all of its citizens and that our injustices to indigenous people were in the past, think again. Angus sheds light on one of the ugliest features of our nation, that we deny First Nations children the chance at a proper education, that we have written them off and that the legacy of unequal education that began with residential schools continues to the present.” — James Daschuk, author of Clearing the Plains

” —