Clean cobalt framework initiated in the DRC

Publication: Mining Review Africa

Date: 21 December 2018

Eurasian Resources Group will launch its Clean Cobalt Framework at its Metalkol RTR operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of its commitment to ensure sustainable cobalt production. Metalkol RTR is fundamental to the development of ERG’s operations in the DRC and the driver for the Group’s plans to increase its cobalt production by approximately four-fold in 2019.

At the heart of the ERG Clean Cobalt Framework is the pursuit of excellence in responsible production and harnessing opportunities to drive sustainability along the cobalt value chain, including via partnerships.

The Framework will be launched at ERG’s Metalkol RTR project which is set to become one of the most significant producers of clean cobalt globally and places the conversion of waste into viable commercial products at the centre of its business model.

Progress against the Framework at Metalkol will be reported annually and third-party validation will be sought.

Through the Framework, ERG aims to set out its strategy for working in the DRC to address the potential challenges of meeting the soaring demand for cobalt.

The ERG Clean Cobalt Framework aims to drive positive outcomes for people in the DRC and global society by pursuing seven commitments:

• Compliance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals
• Our cobalt is free of child labour
• Our cobalt is traceable
• Our cobalt does not come from artisanal and small-scale mining
• We restore the environment
• We collaborate to support sustainable community development
• We support our industry towards more sustainable cobalt value chains

Commenting on the launch of the initiative, Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of ERG says:

“As a founding member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance, ERG is affirming its commitment to the production and sourcing of clean cobalt, to reach the highest international industry standards.”

“We hope that this will encourage similar commitments from participants throughout the global value chain and ensure that any challenges associated with meeting increasing demand are appropriately managed, documented and dealt with.”

The importance of clean cobalt

A vital component of lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles and storage systems for renewable energy, cobalt is a key driver of the global transition to a low carbon economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

It is estimated that the number of EVs worldwide will jump from 3.2 million in 2017 to 130 million in 2030 with cobalt demand increasing by as much as 47 times by that point.

More than 65% of cobalt’s global supply comes from the DRC, a figure which is set to increase further and, while providing significant growth opportunities, this natural endowment comes with its own set of challenges including risks associated with human rights infringements and unethical business practices.

Of particular concern is the use of child labour and the human rights issues associated with artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM), a sector that accounts for between 20% and 25% of global cobalt production.

ERG recognises the urgent need for metal suppliers to commit to ensuring that cobalt is produced and sourced responsibly and sustainably and to support the efforts of its customers.