In March 2019, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), a leading diversified natural resources group, launched its Clean Cobalt Framework (the Framework) at the Group’s Metalkol RTR operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The initiative aims to further codify ERG’s commitments, ensure that cobalt is produced responsibly and address risks associated with human rights infringements and unethical business practices, in particular child labour.
Social responsibility and sustainable development at every stage of our cobalt production process lie at the heart of the Clean Cobalt Framework. ERG’s Metalkol RTR operation, where the Clean Cobalt Framework was launched, has been following these principles well before the Framework came into action, demonstrating ERG’s longstanding commitment to sustainable and ethical means of production. Metalkol RTR is set to become one of the world’s largest producers of ethical cobalt. The company also capitalises on waste treatment as it has a major tailings reclamation focus.
Eurasian Resources Group also encourages businesses in the industry to adopt principles that enshrine responsibility and sustainability. In doing so, businesses may be able to better manage and address the most salient human rights and environmental challenges and risks.
Speaking at the WEF Summit for Sustainable Development in 2017 and in the presence of numerous leading international organisations, Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group, alluded to the Battery Alliance and how ERG helped found it. Benedikt reiterated ERG’s main mission was to continue to guarantee that cobalt sourcing and production is conducted sustainably and responsibly, ensuring that extraction and processing facilities meet all international standards at every stage.
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The key element
Cobalt is a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power electronic devices and electric vehicles. A move towards battery usage makes society considerably less dependent on polluting feuls such as gasoline, diesel and coal. With this in mind, the market expects demand for cobalt to grow with each passing year – research suggests the market will increase by 47 times in 2030.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo holds 65% of the global cobalt supply while 20 to 25 percent of cobalt is artisanally mined. Illegal child labor continues to be a challenge.
The Clean Cobalt Framework is not just a set of principles which promotes environmental concsiousness and business ethics; it also supports local communities where ERG operates. In 2017 the company pledged to donate more than $1m to the Good Shepherd International Foundation including to support the Bon Pasteur Alternative Livelihood programme in the city of Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the construction of a child protection in the same area. In 2018 and early 2019, these efforts contributed to the protection of thousands of children from the worst forms of child labour including through providing basic education, consultations and healthcare as well as juridical assistance in case of domestic and other types of violence.
Benedikt Sobotka and ERG also support other initiatives including the ‘Children Out of Mining–Northern Kolwezi’ project delivered by the international organization Pact in the DRC. The main purpose of the initiative is to raise awareness and develop measures that help protect children in the DRC.