BMW AG will buy cobalt directly from mines in Australia and Morocco to ensure the metal purchased for its electric vehicles is sourced responsibly, according to the head of procurement at the German automaker.
The measure comes as the London Metal Exchange carries out a supply-chain review to address concerns that cobalt stored in its warehouses may be linked to child labor. The supply of the commodity, mostly mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, faced scrutiny in recent years as humanitarian groups said it’s being produced in unethical conditions.
The newly sourced metal will be used in BMW’s next generation of electric vehicles that will be built from 2020, Andreas Wendt said at a briefing in Paris on Tuesday. The company won’t buy directly from small-scale Congolese mines in the short-term, he said.
Mines in Morocco and Australia “operate in line with our sustainability standards and there are no issues with working conditions such as child labor,” Wendt said.
Congo last year produced more than two-thirds of the world’s cobalt. While the commodity is mainly extracted from large industrial mines by companies including Glencore Plc, about 17 percent is dug by hand by thousands of miners operating in the southeastern Katanga region, before being sold on to intermediaries, according to trading house Darton Commodities Ltd.
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