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
Provide local employment opportunities
Ensure health and safety of workers
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).
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.
Video source: Storyblocks.com
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
Ensures traceability of operations
Generates jobs and income
Improves working conditions
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.