BMW announced, a while back, that it will set up a project aiming at making sure the cobalt bought by the company will only be sourced from responsible sources. Back then BMW said the pilot involves blockchain technology and that it is open to bringing in other partners from the automotive industry. Today, a BMW official stated that, at least for now, the Bavarian brand will buy its cobalt only from Australia and Morocco.
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The material is needed for battery manufacturing and since the largest reserve is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the rise of EVs and hybrids caused quite a stir int he African country. At the moment, the raw ingredient is often mined by small, artisanal operations and thus the exact source and how it was extracted is hard to follow. The pilot project set up by BMW was implemented in Congo but the results are yet to be announced.
However, Andreas Wendt, BMW board member responsible for procurement, reportedly said that the company wants to make sure that the cobalt they buy is not produced using child labor. Thus, a change in suppliers might be implied. Reuters reports that a spokesperson for Glencore – a mining and trading company – claims BMW agreed to buy its cobalt needs from the Australian Murrin Murrin mine. Reportedly, a supply from Morocco is also being pondered.
The new supply will be used in the carmaker’s next generation of batteries, starting next year. The announcement was made by Wendt in Paris, during a briefing and coincides with another announcement, from the London Metal Exchange that an initiative is underway to delist or ban brands that don’t source their resources responsibly, by 2022.