Mercedes-Benz commits to sustainable cobalt, lithium sourcing

German carmaker Mercedes-Benz will soon transition to sourcing cobalt and lithium for electric vehicles (EV) batteries only from certified mines to reduce the environmental and social impact of its supply chains, it said on Thursday November 12.

The company added it is planning to shift away from cobalt usage in the coming generation of batteries and it is exploring different battery’s chemistries.

Mercedes-Benz AG is taking a leading role in the promotion and application of the cross-industry “Standard for Responsible Mining” of the “Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance” (IRMA), it said. Parent group Daimler Group is seeking to accelerate the adoption of the standard within the industry, and in the company’s contracts moving forward partners will need to commit to working within their own supply chains to source exclusively from raw materials suppliers who are audited in application of the IRMA mining standard.

The IRMA “Standard for Responsible Mining” was released in 2018 following a process that saw the involvement of more than 100 experts and not-for profits organizations and independent auditing of mines started in 2019.

Through its membership of IRMA, Daimler Group aims to foster the implementation of those standards with the medium-term goal of facilitating the access to certified mines for all players in the market.

In particular, issues surrounding cobalt mining have sparked criticism in the past especially when it comes to human rights violations.

At present, there are no cobalt mines certified in accordance with IRMA’s Standard for Responsible Mining.

“Countries of origin viewed as high-risk are deliberately not generally excluded as sources of supply. Instead, the approach taken here aims to improve the local situation for the people working there and to strengthen their rights.” Mercedes Benz’s statement said.

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