Diversified natural resources group Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) has submitted an action pledge to accelerate efforts to eradicate child labour worldwide in support of the United Nation’s (UN's) designation of 2021 as the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour.
Administered by the International Labour Organisation and the Alliance 8.7, the action pledge strengthens ERG’s commitment to eliminate child labour in the cobalt mining sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where about 40 000 children are reportedly engaged in mining activity, including in the extraction of cobalt, crucial to lithium-ion batteries and the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The group’s targeted community investment strategy is focused on keeping 2 000 children out of artisanal and small-scale mining this year, and ERG is continuing to implement controls to ensure that its operations are in no way connected to child labour, it says.
ERG has been committed to this action for a number of years and will continue supporting the Good Shepherd International Foundation (GSIF), an organisation it has partnered with since 2017, through the Bon Pasteur Kolwezi programme, to keep an ever-increasing number of children out of mining, the group emphasises.
As a founding member of the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), ERG says it will continue playing a leadership role in raising awareness through action across the battery value chain, focusing on Target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for eradicating modern slavery, trafficking and child labour.
At the end of 2020, the group was among the first organisations to contribute to the Fund for the Prevention of Child Labour in Mining Communities – A GBA collaboration, aiming to raise $21-million over the next three years to fund a series of initiatives aimed at addressing the root causes of child labour in DRC mining communities.
“The elimination of child labour is crucial to the group’s wider efforts to help ensure a safe and sustainable future for mining communities in the DRC. At ERG, we are fully committed to ending poor working conditions and child labour through our collaborative efforts like the GBA and our support of organisations like the Good Shepherd International Foundation.
“For 2021, we have envisioned new steps to fight child labour in mining, including signing a new multiyear agreement with the GSIF to expand their support network to new communities in the DRC and developing initiatives like the Battery Passport from the GBA, which promises a fully traceable, ethical and sustainable battery supply chain,” ERG CEO Benedikt Sobotka says.