September 18 saw the official launch of the “Cobalt for Development” pilot project – a cross-industrial initiative that seeks to promote responsible mining practices and improve conditions at an artisanal cobalt mine site in a southern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Samsung Electronics, Samsung SDI, BMW Group and BASF SE are collaborating on the project and have commissioned the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to test within three years how living and working conditions in the artisanal cobalt mine site and the surrounding communities can be improved.
Cobalt is a key component in the production of batteries for electronic devices and electrified vehicles, with the world’s largest known reserves of raw cobalt being found in the DR Congo. Together with the relevant authorities in the province of Lualaba, the project has selected a legal artisanal mine site near the town of Kolwezi to pilot the approach. The site was selected based on six criteria: legality, environmental impact, social impact, health and safety, transparency and viability.
At the pilot site, the initiative aims to promote practices that comply with human rights, respect the environment and contribute to the development of the wider community. In the surrounding community, “Cobalt for Development” seeks to improve access to education, as well as financial literacy and alternative sources of income for its residents.
“Samsung prioritizes preventing the use of conflict minerals in manufacturing,” said Soo Jin Kim, Vice President of Global Public Affairs at Samsung Electronics. “This year, we have taken this a step further with our participation in the “Cobalt for Development” project, which seeks to address the challenges around artisanal cobalt mining in DR Congo. Going forward, Samsung will continue to promote responsible practices around the sourcing and supply of minerals.”
The progress of the “Cobalt for Development” project will be evaluated by a committee of local representatives on a regular basis to ensure the approach is continuously being improved. Following assessment, the lessons learned could then form the basis for the project measures to be extended to other mine sites.