Cobalt

 

Overview

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the world’s largest producer of cobalt and holds more than 50 percent of the global cobalt reserves. Cobalt is used in lithium-ion batteries that form an integral part of electric automobiles, mobile phones and laptop computers. Demand for cobalt is expected to rise significantly over the coming years. Cobalt is extracted in mechanized and artisanal mining operations. Recent reports have highlighted concerns over unsafe working conditions and child labor in artisanal cobalt mining.

In early 2017, RMI members established a workgroup focused on the responsible sourcing of cobalt and in particular risks related to instances of child labor in cobalt mining in the DRC. Through the workgroup, companies are working to increase transparency in cobalt supply chains and engage with supply chain actors to promote the responsible sourcing of this mineral.

What We Do

The RMI works to create the enabling conditions for companies to exercise due diligence over cobalt supply chains in accordance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance:

  • Strong management systems: The RMI works to consolidate and represent the downstream voice on responsible cobalt sourcing. In addition, the RMI supports member companies’ efforts to identify cobalt refiners in their supply chains by providing harmonized tools and resources. These include:
    • Publicly available reporting template with a list of cobalt refiners (in process);
    • Agreed upon definition for cobalt refiner;
    • Vetting process to confirm cobalt refiners (based on agreed-upon definition) using a standardized data collection form and including a multi-stakeholder review process;
    • Publically available global cobalt refiner list (in process);
    • Coordinated cobalt refiner outreach effort. 
  • Risk assessment: The Risk Readiness Assessment tool assists members in gaining a more detailed understanding of cobalt refiners performance across more than 30 issue areas.
  • Risk mitigation: The RMI continues to support joint efforts for member companies to mitigate risks in supply chains by providing guidance and resources as needed to increase leverage and build capacity of suppliers and cobalt refiners.
  • Independent third-party audit: Together with its partners, the RMI is establishing an independent assurance process for cobalt refiners that is aligned with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance, with a view to provide validated information on refiners’ due diligence and sourcing practices.
  • Public reporting: The RMI supports members’ public reporting through activity and program summaries as well as through RMI’s work on the identification of cobalt refiners.

For more details on our cobalt-related activities, please refer to the documents below:

Learn More

Contact Michèle Brülhart at mbruelhart@responsiblebusiness.org for more information.