19 February 2020

EU publishes new harmonised classification for cobalt metal

The Cobalt Institute (CI) takes note of the EU's updated harmonised classification rules for cobalt metal (14th ATP to the CLP Regulation) which was published in the EU Official Journal on 18 February 2020, including a temporary Generic Concentration Limit (GCL) of ≥ 0.1 %. The new rules entered into force on 9 March 2020 and will start to apply from 1 October 2021.

The cobalt industry is working with its downstream users to ensure an effective implementation of the new harmonised classification. In this regard, the CI has prepared a Q&A document that aims to answer to commonly asked questions on the cobalt metal classification.

The CI continues to firmly believe that EU regulation should focus on the established hazard concerns linked to the inhalation of cobalt metal. Regrettably, despite existing data indicating the safety of dermal and oral exposure to cobalt metal, the new harmonised classification is not limited to inhalation. As a consequence, the cobalt industry plans to invest significant additional resources to generate new scientific evidence to conclusively prove that cobalt metal can be used safely once exposure via inhalation is controlled.

The Cobalt Institute welcomes the European Commission's recognition, through the temporary GCL, of the need to further refine the methodology for deriving concentration limits for inorganic materials such as cobalt metal. We strongly encourage EU and member state authorities to continue to engage in the expert group which has been established to review this methodology under the European Chemicals Agency. In the meantime, it will be important in our view to maintain the current GCL, the appropriateness of which we are confident will be confirmed by the ECHA review.

The CI and its members will continue to work with EU and member state regulatory authorities to ensure the safe and sustainable use of cobalt metal, a critical raw material for EU manufacturing and a key element in the energy transition and a circular economy.

The Cobalt Institute (CI) is a non-profit trade association composed of producers, users, recyclers, and traders of cobalt. It promotes the sustainable and responsible production and use of cobalt in all its forms and acts as a knowledge centre for governments, agencies, industry, the media and the public on all matters concerning cobalt, an essential element to achieve energy transition.

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