cobalt

Cobalt.

Areas of application automotive industry.

  • Main areas of application: batteries (high-voltage batteries, low-voltage batteries)
  • Minute quantities: magnets, alloys and tyres 

Raw-material-specific risks.

  • Human rights abuses in connection with cobalt extraction, transportation or trade
  • Human rights abuses by public or private security forces
  • Child labour
  • Violation of labour rights
  • Discrimination and harassment, including against vulnerable groups
  • Negative environmental impacts, such as water and soil pollution
  • Corruption

Measures taken by the BMW Group.

  • Comprehensive risk assessment carried out; highest risks identified for material originating from the DR Congo, especially artisanal mines. Co-financing of a scientific study examining the extent and causes of child labour in the DR Congo by the University of California, Berkeley. Decision: local engagement recommended (see Training).
  • Increase transparency in the cobalt supply chain up to fourth-generation high-voltage batteries, as well as for low-voltage batteries, in cooperation with battery cell suppliers. Encourage the supply chain to obtain certification of smelters/refiners (RMI standard) and mines (IRMA standard). 
  • Direct purchase for the fifth generation of our high-voltage batteries used for the first time in the BMW iX3 that was released in 2020. The BMW Group sources cobalt directly from raw material producers in Morocco and Australia and makes it available to battery cell suppliers. In this way, we can ensure traceability (100% mass balance) of the cobalt and are already committed to compliance with environmental standards and human rights during extraction at the mine. 
  • Training for the cobalt supply chain in the DR Congo as part of the local Cobalt for Development project: The aim here is to meet the challenges of responsible artisanal mining in the DR Congo. By the end of 2021, 14 mining cooperatives employing several thousand miners had been trained in responsible mining practices within this framework. We are also training people in the local communities on how to find alternative sources of income and manage a household budget. In 2021, 72 small businesses, were set up as a result of this, including a bakery and small shops.
  • Goal: Increase the percentage of secondary raw material through joint pilot project for battery recycling with Northvolt and Umicore.
  • Further development of cell chemistry: The amount of cobalt in the cathode material for the current fifth-generation battery cells has been reduced to less than 10%.

Initiatives.

Kobalt