Germany’s BMW set to explore ways to improve conditions for cobalt mining in Congo

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BMW, a German multinational company which produces luxury automobiles and motorcycles, is set to explore ways to improve working conditions for mining in cobalt through a pilot project also supported by chemicals giant BASF, battery maker Samsung SDI and a development agency.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has the world’s largest reserves of cobalt, a raw material carmakers seeking to boost sales of electric cars are struggling to acquire. Although the material is scarce, it is an important component used for the production of batteries.

BMW, BASF and Samsung SDI are working together with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, a German development agency, to explore ways to improve working and living conditions in areas where cobalt is extracted using manual labor.

BMW said “it  seeks to contribute to identifying workable solutions that lead to better working conditions at the mine site. If proven effective, these measures could then be scaled up to other legal artisanal mine sites and enhance systemic challenges in the longer run”.

The German carmaker noted that the project will cover one pilot mine within the next three years. BMW also explained that it would not directly purchase cobalt from the mine, which would be operated by a local cooperative.

According to BMW, manual mining operations produce about 15 to 20 percent of cobalt in Congo, while industrial mining accounts for the remaining 80 to 85 percent of cobalt production.

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