Cobalt: The Next Conflict Mineral?

Two recently launched initiatives to curb “the worst forms of child labor” and other abusive practices in the supply chain for cobalt, a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, are being led by electronics companies.

Apple, HP, Samsung SDI and Sony have joined an effort known as the Responsible Cobalt Initiative, while the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), whose members include Apple, Dell, Foxconn, and Ford Motors, has announced the new “Responsible Raw Materials Initiative.”

The Responsible Cobalt Initiative is aiming to promote cooperation with the government of the Congo. Its members have pledged to follow Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines for mining supply chains, which call for companies to trace how cobalt is being extracted, transported, manufactured and sold. Any abuses would require immediate correction. The initiative is being led by a Chinese business group, the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters, and supported by the OECD.

The EICC’s “Responsible Raw Materials Initiative” aims to expand scrutiny of its members’ supply chains beyond the “conflict” minerals— tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold.

IPC will continue to monitor the issue and will provide updates as they come in.


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