In 2018, Eurasian Resources Group (‘ERG’ or ‘The Group’) launched its innovative Clean Cobalt Framework initiative at the Metalkol RTR operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
To maximise the impact and transparency of this responsible cobalt production initiative, Metalkol has committed to provide regular reports of its performance with the first report having been recently validated independently by the advisory firm PwC.
The Clean Cobalt Framework aims to put the supply chain guidance of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) into practice, and to go further towards sustainable development and ERG’s objective of further enhancing responsible cobalt production.
In the first year, Metalkol RTR has taken steps towards achieving each of the initiative’s seven goals:
- Compliance with OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals
The 5 steps of the OECD Guidance have been implemented at Metalkol. This includes strong management systems to identify, assess and manage risks and impacts to human rights, health and safety, and the environment. These have included establishing grievance and whistleblowing mechanisms for workers, contractors and communities. Customer audits are supported and progress is being reported on and independently assured.
Systems for managing supplier risks are also implemented including a Code of Conduct for suppliers and contractors to address business conduct, human rights and environmental risks. The Group has committed to investigating allegations against its suppliers and contractors and will cut ties with any organisation unable to meet these requirements.
- Cobalt Is sourced without Child Labour
Processes and controls have been implemented to prevent child labour in our operations. All workers are given photographic ID along with an age-check during their initial training, and site security maintains patrols to check for underage workers entering, leaving or working in the area. The Group also proactively exercises its right to audit contractors to assure compliance with these measures.
- Traceable Cobalt
Metalkol RTR is establishing a traceable chain of custody system for its cobalt production, allowing all material to be traced back to Metalkol RTR origin and until first customer.
- Cobalt is not sourced from Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining
Metalkol RTR does not purchase any ASM material. Processes and controls are in place to monitor, assess and mitigate risks associated with ASM entering the supply chain. An ASM management plan ensures ongoing engagement with ASM stakeholders and compliance with Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.
- Restoring the Environment
Metalkol RTR extracts and reprocesses legacy tailings which have been historically contaminating the local environment. Residual waste is controlled in a modern tailings storage facility and an environmental management system initiated. Metalkol has also initiated a rehabilitation and monitoring programme to improve the surrounding environment, reduce pollution, and support biodiversity in the region.
- Collaborating to promote Sustainable Community Development
Metalkol RTR established a social management system which ensures engagement with local communities and NGOs and participatory strategic community investment. Investment to date has included a focus on access to clean water, children out of mining and alternative livelihoods. In addition, more than 90% of the workforce consists of DRC nationals, with active recruitment from local villages.
- Leading the industry towards more Sustainable Cobalt Value Chains
ERG is a founding member of the Global Battery Alliance, an initiative aimed at ensuring responsible, sustainable battery production and supply chains. Metalkol RTR is a member of the Cobalt Institute and has adopted the Cobalt Institute Responsible Assessment Framework, which aims to ensure ethical risk assessment in cobalt production.
Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group, commented on achieving the first major milestone of the Framework, stating that promoting and engaging in responsible cobalt production for vital battery technologies and having a positive, sustainable impact on local communities is both “critical to us and our supply chain.”
In its mission to “champion sustainability and responsibility in the cobalt value chain” and eliminate child labour from the mining industry, Metalkol RTR expects its partners, customers and end users to uphold these ethical standards and works with a number of organisations including Good Shepherd International Foundation and international NGO, Pact.
You can read the full report here.
Eurasian Resources Group
Eurasian Resources Group is a leading natural resources group with integrated marketing, logistics, energy, processing and mining operations. The Group is a major employer in the industry and operates in 15 countries.
Eurasian Resources Group is a founding member of the Global Battery Alliance, launched on the World Economic Forum platform. The Alliance is dedicated to ensuring that there is a sustainable and ethical global supply chain for lithium-ion batteries, helping to power a low carbon economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
ERG is one of the largest global producers of iron ore and alumina products in Eurasia and the world’s largest high-carbon ferrochrome producer by chrome content. The Group is also among the principle cobalt and copper producers; it is also the only high-grade aluminium producer in Kazakhstan, where it represents a third of the country’s mining and metals industry.
In Africa, the Group processes and mines cobalt and copper ore, in addition to development projects involving fluorspar, bauxite, platinum, manganese and thermal coal. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Group has recently launched a major tailings reprocessing operation.