CNN's Unethical Cobalt Expose is Unfair to EVs

I'll have to take issue with this CNN 'expose' on unethical cobalt, which explicitly targets electric vehicles. 

https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2018/05/africa/congo-cobalt-dirty-energy-intl/?iid=EL

Child labor at artisanal mines in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a horrific problem that our supply chain needs to get under control, but attributing it to EVs is a bit unfair. What the expose should target is computers, phones and ... what no one ever talks about: military equipment, airplanes and medical equipment. Instead, we're talking about EVs that at present don't use even close to these other products.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The problem is primarily one of political corruption in the government of DRC leading to bad enforcement and very poor economic conditions. That minerals are valuable to consumers of all sorts is not the origin of the problem.

But responsible EV makers and other electronics makers can and do work toward solutions. 

This evening Tesla reported that the cells it now uses in the Model 3 have the highest density (least demand for all minerals per kWh) used in any EV and the specifically the cobalt content is lower than that of NMC-81. So a big part of the solution is simply advancing technology to make least use of cobalt and other resource.

As the price of cobalt climbs, all consumers of cobalt will be looking at ways to minimize cobalt content in their products, and miners will develop cobalt resources outside of DRC as well. So the price will drop, but the poor in DRC will likely still be stuck with bad government and very limited economic alternatives to child labor. Pole sana, watoto maskini. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, and particularly interesting will be how this whole situation may open up new supply lines of cobalt. Junior miners should be quite excited at the prospects. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, Kate Turlington said:

I'll have to take issue with this CNN 'expose' on unethical cobalt, which explicitly targets electric vehicles. 

https://edition.cnn.com/interactive/2018/05/africa/congo-cobalt-dirty-energy-intl/?iid=EL

Child labor at artisanal mines in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a horrific problem that our supply chain needs to get under control, but attributing it to EVs is a bit unfair. What the expose should target is computers, phones and ... what no one ever talks about: military equipment, airplanes and medical equipment. Instead, we're talking about EVs that at present don't use even close to these other products.

 

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 6.31.44 PM.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Improving the traceability of the cobalt supply chain is a real challenge for car manufacturers.

For instance BMW in partnership with Circulor a british start-up is testing the blockchain technology to map the cobalt supply chain.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mining-bmw-blockchain/uk-firm-pilots-using-blockchain-to-help-bmw-source-ethical-cobalt-idUSKBN1GH2UP

https://www.circulor.com/

Some other initiatives can be interesting like the mine certifications project set by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA)

http://www.responsiblemining.net/certification/

or the Responsible Minerals Initiative trying to improve cobalt supply chain due diligence

http://www.responsiblemineralsinitiative.org/emerging-risks/cobalt/

and the Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI) launched by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Minerals & Chemicals (CCCMC)
with strong support from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to undertake
collective action in addressing social and environmental risks in the cobalt supply chain and address the issues of child labor.

http://www.cccmc.org.cn/docs/2016-11/20161121141502674021.pdf

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0