Posted on 21/11/2019 in Conflict minerals materials supply chain sustainability

BRUSSELS (Belgium), November 21, 2019 – Drive Sustainability expresses its commitment to cooperate with all players in the value chain and with specific initiatives to develop and implement a proactive approach towards the establishment of a sustainable cobalt value chain. Our vision is to lead the transformation towards a circular and sustainable automotive value chain.

All Lead Partners and Partners of Drive Sustainability have cobalt as one of their high priority raw materials on the list and a number of them have already developed initiatives related to:

(1) Enhanced traceability and transparency of the supply chain;

(2) Practical improvement projects in and around mines;

(3) Training and verification of responsible sourcing practices of smelters/refiners or other cobalt value-chain actors.

Some companies have further engaged in cross-sectional initiatives such as RMI (Responsible Minerals Initiative), RCI (Responsible Cobalt Initiative) and the GBA (Global Battery Alliance).

Enhancing sustainability in the cobalt value-chain is a very complex challenge and can only be achieved through long term, systematic and collaborative engagement that combines the efforts of different stakeholders such as but not limited to: mining companies, traders, smelters and refiners, local, national and international governments, development agencies and multilateral banking institutions, investors, downstream users from different sectors and international associations.

For the moment, different initiatives and solutions are emerging and alignment activities are needed and welcomed.

The OECD Due Diligence Guidance and the related audit and certification schemes that can be shared with downstream companies upon request, are the basis for any collaborative work. We welcome concrete actions taken by individual supply chain actors to support this endeavour. However; the efforts towards a more sustainable cobalt supply chain should avoid focussing only on traceability and transparency for risk-assessment, compliance and enforcement but should also put more efforts in training, capacity-building, investments and community development, especially but not exclusively in legal and responsible artisanal mining.

What is needed is for the entire cobalt value-chain to work together with a strong coordinated agenda that leads to a transparent and responsible cobalt value-chain without any human rights abuses. Specifically, we want to collaborate with all actors (other cobalt users, mine-companies, traders, smelters and refiners, local and international governments and civil society) to develop and implement long term solutions, particularly for a legal small-scale mining sector that contributes to local socio-economic development. 

We support the OECD in furthering with urgency a collaborative strategy development, and continuing its efforts to create and moderate a more intensive, structured platform and roadmap for global practical alignment and coherence in the approach to cobalt that focuses on:

1. A process of intensive and continued stakeholder engagement and capacity building, moderation of cobalt related initiatives, as well as activities in DRC, China and the rest of the world;

2. Alignment on a common and shared risk approach that can be applied for cobalt sourcing, (including legal and responsible artisanal mining) in order to identify improvement areas;

3. A shared set of aligned standards and related assessment tools (self-assessment, audit) to enhance transparency in the cobalt supply chain within the framework of the “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas” and the “Chinese Due Diligence Guidelines for Responsible Mineral Supply Chains” to improve sustainability practices in the supply chains. We encourage one mine- one audit approach;

4. A learning and exchange platform on the different efforts made to improve the sustainability in legal artisanal mining and to strengthen the link with the efforts of large-scale mining with the direction to establish acceptable standards;

5. Stimulate and coordinate the pooling of resources and moderate the alignment for a specific investment fund to scale up effective solutions, especially but not exclusively in legal and responsible artisanal mining.