Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) activity is responsible for approximately 20% of cobalt production in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). However despite this significant contribution, little has been done to help formalise the ASM cobalt sector in the country.
In last year’s virtual DRC Mining Week event, there was a webinar about formalising artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in the lead-up to the DRC Mining Week conference. It was revealed that artisanal mining is a challenge for the mining industry, especially in remote locations and many organisations are stepping in to help.
One such organization is the Entreprise Générale du Cobalt (EGC), which officially launched its activities to support the commercialisation of responsibly sourced artisanal cobalt last week.EGC will now be responsible for purchasing all domestically produced ASM cobalt ore, prior to processing and/or transformation and marketing.
The changing attitude towards artisanal cobalt miners
As part of the initiative, EGC also launched its Responsible Sourcing Standards to define the operational principles that the organisation will require to support the establishment of safe and strictly controlled artisanal cobalt mining zones. The launch of EGC comes at a time when global demand for cobalt is one the rise which is likely to result in the DRC increasing its production output.
More importantly, it comes at a time when consumers are no longer requesting that raw materials are responsibly sourced – they are a demanding it. It is still early days but the introduction of the EGC is a significant boost towards protecting the livelihoods of ASMs and creating an ethically and responsibly sourced cobalt supply chain in the DRC.