Global minerals organisation the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) announced in December that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) National Minister of Mines Professor Willy Kitobo Samsoni has joined the Cobalt Action Partnership (CAP) Steering Committee.
RMI is partnership lead and implementing partner of CAP, which is an initiative in collaboration with the Global Battery Alliance, formalised in May 2020, as a broad-based and multisectoral, public-private coalition.
The Minister’s joining demonstrates a significant step to link the global desire for responsible cobalt supply chains with a tangible commitment by the DRC government.
CAP promotes the engagement and commitment towards sustainable and inclusive cobalt value chains.
It also aims to foster transparent, evidence-based and responsible cobalt value chains to improve safety and working conditions; promote gender equality; address corruption and human rights abuses such as child labour and forced labour; mitigate negative environmental impacts; and meet sustainability targets that are consistent with national regulations and relevant international standards.
Cobalt is important for the local and national economies of the DRC, yet the sector faces significant challenges to translate this mineral wealth into sustainable development outcomes and equitable distribution of productivity gains.
Given the nature of risks and complexity of supply chains, due diligence is imperative but often challenging.
CAP implementing partners and stakeholders are committed to identifying solutions and actions across the private, public and nonprofit sectors to legitimise artisanal and small-scale mining- (ASM-) produced cobalt in the DRC.
This includes promoting global market access for cobalt ASM producers; formalising ASM operations; eradicating child labour and human rights abuses in cobalt mining communities; and harmonising existing initiatives working on these issues to ensure coordinated collective efforts.
“As an impartial public–private initiative supported by the government of the DRC, the CAP is placed to become a strong driver of a responsible and sustainable battery market in this critical decade for climate action,” says global entity World Economic Forum (WEF) head of circular economy and innovation Antonia Gawel.
“It is an important milestone for the Global Battery Alliance, which brokered the CAP in 2020 with support from the WEF.”
“I look forward to representing the government of the DRC in the CAP leadership as part of our ongoing efforts to support responsible cobalt production in the DRC,” states Samsoni.
Samsoni joins representatives from the public, private and nonprofit sectors on the CAP Steering Committee, including Eurasian Resources Group sustainability adviser Gillian Davidson; Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt corporate social responsibility director Bryce Lee; Environment, Energy and Extractives Pact VP Karen Hayes; and Good Shepherd International Foundation director Cristina Duranti.
“We welcome Minister Samsoni to the CAP Steering Committee and look forward to working with the DRC government in this important multisector partnership, which aims to promote widely accepted norms that foster responsible cobalt production and trade,” concluded industry coalition Responsible Business Alliance VP Leah Butler.