Congo artisanal cobalt programme expands with industry backing – by Helen Reid (Reuters U.S. – April 21, 2020)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A programme to monitor and improve artisanal cobalt mines in Democratic Republic of Congo will double the number of mining sites it covers this year through a partnership between RCS Global and the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

RCS Global, a company in Berlin that audits supply chains, started the Better Mining programme in 2018, collecting data on cobalt mine sites in Congo and giving mine operators “corrective action” plans when mining practices were found to be unsafe.

Teaming up with the Washington, D.C.-based RMI, a part of the Responsible Business Alliance, will allow the programme to grow from three sites to six this year, and to 12 or more sites by 2023, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday.

The aim is to convince end-users of cobalt – a metal used in smartphones, computers, and electric car batteries – that artisanal mine sites, often associated with child labour and dangerous working conditions, can be transformed into responsibly-managed, viable sources of cobalt.

“We are determined to unlock the demand for responsibly produced ASM cobalt,” Leah Butler, vice president of the Responsible Business Alliance, said. “We encourage companies along the value chain to actively engage in this effort.”

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