DRC joins Cobalt Action Partnership

Child miners as young as 11 in eastern Congo. (Image by Enough Project, Flickr).

The Minister of Mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Willy Kitobo Samsoni, joined this week the Cobalt Action Partnership (CAP), a program whose main goals are to eliminate child and forced labor from the cobalt value chain, contribute to the sustainable development of communities, and respect the human rights of those affected by cobalt mining.

Established by the Global Battery Alliance a public-private collaboration platform founded in 2017 at the World Economic Forum and led by the Responsible Minerals Initiative, the CAP is governed by an independent steering committee with balanced representation from the private sector, civil society and governments. 

With reserves in the order of 3.5 million tonnes, the DRC hosts most of the world’s cobalt and is responsible for 50% of the global supply

In a media statement, CAP representatives pointed out that bringing the DRC into the initiative is key given the country’s tinted track record when it comes to the protection of human and labour rights within its mining industry.

“Given the nature of risks and the complexity of supply chains, due diligence is imperative but often challenging,” the release reads. “CAP implementing partners and stakeholders are committed to identifying solutions and actions across the private, public, and nonprofit sectors to legitimize artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) cobalt produced in the DRC, promote global market access for cobalt ASM producers, formalize ASM operations, eradicate child labor and human rights abuses in cobalt mining communities, and harmonize existing initiatives working on these issues to ensure coordinated collective efforts.”

With reserves in the order of 3.5 million tonnes, the DRC hosts most of the world’s cobalt and is responsible for 50% of the global supply. The inclusion of Samsoni in the CAP steering committee is expected to provide the necessary push to foster responsible cobalt production and trade.

In this steering committee, the DRC’s minister will be joined by Gillian Davidson, sustainability adviser for Eurasian Resources Group; Bryce Lee, director of CSR, Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt; Karen Hayes, vice president of environment, energy, and extractives at Pact; and Cristina Duranti, director of the Good Shepherd International Foundation. 

Based on the guidance provided by the Responsible Minerals Initiative, the committee will work towards helping the DRC monitor artisanal mine sites in an effort to link on-the-ground efforts to independent third-party assessments of crude and fine cobalt refiners; engaging stakeholders along the cobalt and battery value chains to ensure the complementarity of programs and the alignment with market expectations, and providing financial contributions to support the expansion of mine monitoring to ASM cobalt sites in the country. 

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