Responsible Sourcing

Growing demand for cobalt sourcing – driven by its crucial role in enabling electric mobility and the green economy – puts into the spotlight the way this critical mineral is sourced.

98% of cobalt is mined as a by product

Approximately 70% of the world’s cobalt is produced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – the world’s leading source of mined cobalt – mostly in the two southern provinces of Lualaba and Haut-Katanga known as the “Copperbelt”. 

The majority of all cobalt mined in the DRC comes from large scale mines that are mostly operated by large-scale mining companies (LSM). They can make a significant contribution to the social and economic development of the countries in which resources are found. Responsible mining practices is a priority for the cobalt industry.

Payment to governments, including taxes and royalties

cobalt sourcing

Provide local employment opportunities

Ensure health and safety of workers

Develop infrastructure

Provide environmental stewardship

Encourage education and training

Invest in community development

10-20% of cobalt mined in the DRC comes from artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) where independent miners use their own resources to extract the mineral.

ASM can be formal (led by local cooperatives or other types of legal associations and enterprises) and informal (commonly associated with low levels of safety measures, health care or environmental protection).

Child Labor




Hazardous working conditions

Unfair trading practices

Mineral extraction accounts for 90% of the country’s exports and constitutes a core element of the Congolese economy. An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people work in ASM, and many more depend on their income.

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Collective action will support the formalization of ASM and address the root causes that stem from poverty. Formalizing ASM should include the development of standards in line with basic human rights principles and environmental standards. In the case of ASM, these standards include basic infrastructure, health and safety measures, and monitoring to assess compliance with these standards.

Protects vulnerable populations

Reduces poverty

Ensures traceability of operations

Generates jobs and income

Empowers women

Improves working conditions

Our Responsibility

The Cobalt Institute is engaged with a number of multi-stakeholder initiatives with the principal aim of putting artisanal mining in the DRC on a legitimate and transparent footing, as well as seeking to address the root causes of poverty.


The Cobalt Industry Responsible Assessment Framework (CIRAF) is a management tool designed for all companies, whether or not they are producing and/or sourcing from high-risk countries. CIRAF consolidates due diligence actions being taken by companies across the cobalt industry to demonstrate best practice and meet the expectations of civil society, the media and the cobalt market. As such, CIRAF provides a unified yet flexible approach towards responsible and sustainable cobalt production and sourcing.

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