Eurasian Resources Group has designed the clean cobalt initiative to ensure that customers can purchase cobalt with confidence.

The Clean Cobalt Framework

The Clean Cobalt Framework, an industry leading initiative to ensure sustainable cobalt production, was launched in 2018 at Metalkol RTR. The Framework guarantees that independent assurance is conducted annually by a third party. The Framework forms part of our efforts to ensure sustainable cobalt production and comprises seven goals:

o Compliance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance
o Cobalt is sourced without child labour
o Traceable cobalt
o Cobalt is not sources from artisanal and small scale mining
o Restoring the environment
o Collaborating to promote sustainable community development
o Leading our industry towards more sustainable cobalt value chains

Our aim is to ensure that cobalt is produced responsibly and to address risks associated with human rights infringements and unethical business practices, in particular child labour. We also seek to harness opportunities to drive sustainability along the cobalt value chain, in partnership with others.

Furthermore, the Clean Cobalt Framework aims to support the efforts of our customers to source responsibly. Impact and transparency are priorities , and it is for this reason that our performance will be reported annually and third-party validation will be sought. Through the Framework, Metalkol RTR which is well positioned to become one of the world’s leading cobalt producers, aims to comply with and go beyond the globally recognised supply chain guidance of the OECD (OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains from Conflict-Affected and High Risk Areas).

Supporting trust and transparency along the cobalt value chain: Piloting a blockchain solution

Blockchain is an emerging new solution to trace the provenance of key metals such as cobalt and further deliver much-needed assurances across the value chain. Through blockchain, the process of sourcing and aggregating data becomes more secure and efficient. Information is entered into a decentralised, distributed ledger and can be accessed by relevant participants, including the end customer. This helps deliver assurances and build trust across the value chain. To that end, ERG is piloting a blockchain-based solution built on the IBM Blockchain Platform at the Metalkol RTR operation. This innovative solution has potential implications for the wider metals industry, but it is particularly important in the context of complex geographies such as the DRC. Through the blockchain-based solution, ERG hopes to strengthen trust and transparency in the global value chain.

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 20-25% 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.

ERG’s partnerships supporting the Clean Cobalt Framework

We are committed to supporting local communities in its areas of operation, including Metalkol RTR. In 2017 the Group pledged more than US$1 million to support a three-year partnership with the Good Shepherd International Foundation in the Kolwezi area. This partnership is helping approximately 1,000 vulnerable children to access basic education and other services such as counselling, healthcare and access to referral systems for physical abuse.

ERG also announced its support for “Children Out of Mining–Northern Kolwezi”, an initiative carried out by the international development organisation, Pact. The project aims to raise awareness and strengthen child protection norms through a range of tailored capacity-building interventions focused on tackling the risks children may face in ASM.