Responsible Minerals Initiative Helps Companies Identify and Address Cobalt Mining Challenges in the DRC and Other High-Risk Areas

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 5, 2018

Today’s CBS News story, which is based in part on earlier reports by Amnesty International, highlights persistent challenges for industry supply chains related to responsibly sourcing cobalt from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and other conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The focus of this CBS News story is children working in artisanal cobalt mines in the DRC. The Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI), formerly the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI), and its members condemn in the strongest terms the abhorrent use of child labor and we actively work to assist member companies to identify and address this issue in their global supply chains.

The RMI works within the framework of the OECD Due Diligence Guidance to help companies meet the requirements and expectations of investors, governments, customers, and other stakeholders. While ultimately it is RMI member companies’ responsibilities to establish their respective due diligence processes, the RMI assists member companies in establishing the conditions for progressive improvement in cobalt supply chains.

With international frameworks (e.g., the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, OECD Guidance, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights), national legislation (e.g., Dodd-Frank Act Section 1502 and EU Regulation), and input from civil society as our guideposts, RMI’s programs continue to evolve from the initiative’s original scope, to cover a broader set of risks and issues. This evolution is part of RMI’s journey to promote the common goal of understanding and contributing to mitigating the salient social and environmental impacts of extraction and processing of raw materials in supply chains.

Through its members, the RMI has been working on the responsible sourcing of cobalt as a focus area since early 2017. The RMI aims to create the enabling conditions for companies to carry out their due diligence in accordance with the OECD Guidance by providing common programs, resources and tools. For example, the RMI has:

  • Worked with the Responsible Cobalt Initiative to develop a pilot audit program for cobalt refiners. The draft Cobalt Refiner Standard is currently being translated into Chinese and is planned to be made available for public consultation in March 2018.
  • Published the Cobalt Reporting Template (CRT) for a pilot phase of six months, from March–August 2018, to identify choke points and collect due diligence information on the cobalt supply chain. The full text and the form can be found here on our website
  • Worked with industry experts to define the choke point in cobalt supply chains and establish a definition of “cobalt refiner.” Published the first Cobalt Refiner List, which can be found here on our website

Furthermore, RMI and its members are actively reaching out to cobalt refiners with a view to better understand their due diligence practices and communicate responsible sourcing expectations. Cobalt refiners are being asked to complete our Risk Readiness Assessment to better understand performance related to social, environmental and ethical issue areas, including child labor. The RRA includes cobalt, tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold producers and processors, and is free for mineral producers and processors to complete. As of today, the RRA platform is available to all RMI members and upstream companies. Currently there are nearly 170 companies using the platform, more than 200 facility-level assessments have been completed, and over 60 downstream companies are actively using the tool. This includes 20 cobalt producers, smelter or refiners.

The RMI regularly engages key stakeholders on cobalt to align efforts across initiatives and work to continuously improve conditions in cobalt supply chains. Additional information can be found in the RMI’s cobalt overview and progress report.

Media Contact:

Jarrett Bens, Director of Communications
Responsible Business Alliance
Phone: +1 571.858.5721
jbens@responsiblebusiness.org