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9 Jul 2019

Henry Sanderson, Financial Times

DRC: Continued allegations of labour rights violations in electric car supply chain

"Congo, child labour and your electric car", 7 July 2019 

… While the majority of Congo’s cobalt comes from large mining sites… a growing proportion is coming from an estimated 150,000 “artisanal” or informal miners who dig by hand in Kolwezi. The unregulated practice is increasingly drawing in children...

Congo’s dominance presents a growing dilemma for carmakers and those in the supply chain… for electric vehicles and batteries… [A] lot of this activity now takes place within the sites of the large mining groups, including… Glencore and… Molybdenum…

In April BMW … [said] it would source its cobalt for its electric cars from Morocco and Australia and not the DRC… Umicore... announced a long-term deal to buy cobalt from Glencore’s mines... But the deaths of the 43 miners on June 27 at Glencore’s site has increased pressure for a solution because many informal miners operate on land that is part of official concessions. Glencore says about 2,000 informal miners a day trespass on the site of its Kamoto Copper Company…

…Trafigura, which is one of the largest buyers of Congolese cobalt and copper, says artisanal-mined minerals can be a source of supply for carmakers... “Our preference is… to find solutions,” ... “If we can be a bit creative in developing controls then we could avoid the product just dripping out into the market...”