“The security of cobalt supply chains is more important than ever as our need for this highly relevant mineral in the new digital economy becomes evident. Where we find environmental, social or labour problems in supply chains, we should not avoid them, we should not disengage, but rather it is our duty to take action and make improvements,” said Dr Assheton Stewart Carter, Executive Director of The Impact Facility and the Fair Cobalt Alliance. “The Fair Cobalt Alliance is a bold move to do just that - to bring about systemic change by working with the local partners and engaging all businesses in the supply chain to achieve a common goal.”
The FCA was set up by Fairphone with Signify and supplier Huayou Cobalt, as well as The Impact Facility, an organisation designed to convene supply chains to enable diversification of mining economies.
The initiative connects cobalt from Lualaba Province, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the global electronics and automotive supply chains alongside existing operations. The Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI) is a programme established by Chinese refining and mining companies active in the DRC to tackle risks facing workers at artisanal mines in the cobalt supply chain.
Knowledge and development organisations, amongst them Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and Congolese civil society, including the Centre Arrupe pour la Recherche et la Formation (CARF) are also actively supporting and participating in the initiative. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, implemented by The Netherlands Enterprise Agency, contributes to the alliance through a multi-year grant.
Full implementation will take five years and will start in mines located in Kasulu and Kamilombe in the DRC, with the ambition to scale to more mines.
“Millions of livelihoods in the DRC and around the world depend on ASM. The OECD encourages industry to responsibly engage with the sector through progressive improvement instead of avoiding it, which often only makes problems in ASM more hidden,” said Benjamin Katz Policy Analyst at the OECD. “We fully support the Fair Cobalt Alliance’s goal of investing in better working conditions for ASM, and other similar projects, in order to bring more transparency to the sector while expanding market access for small-scale producers.”
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