On December 21st, 2018 the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) released the first formal version of the Cobalt Reporting Template (CRT). RMI first began formal reporting template development with the Conflict Minerals Reporting Template (CMRT) and has now expanded to standardize cobalt supply chain tracing due diligence.

Cobalt is an essential raw material for superalloy, cemented carbide, diamond tool, batteries, anticorrosive and magnetic materials. It is widely applied in fields including aerospace, electronic appliances, machinery manufacturing, automobiles, chemical industry, agriculture, ceramics, etc.

The goal of Cobalt Due Diligence is to identify choke points in your supply chain and identify high-risk cobalt refiners. The RMI built on this premise:

The CRT facilitates the exchange of information through the supply chain regarding mineral country of origin and smelters and refiners being utilized. In doing so, it supports companies’ exercise of due diligence in accordance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas. The CRT also facilitates the identification of smelters and refiners.

– Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI)

At the moment, there is no standard list of high-risk cobalt refiners, but the RMI has published a list of currently identified cobalt refiners. The process of identifying high-risk cobalt refiners is ongoing, but we can look at characteristics of high-risk smelters to try and draw some similarities.

Basic characteristics of high-risk smelters:

  • Geographical location
  • Historical reputation
  • Supply chain footprint
  • History of violations or sanctions

We cannot automatically apply these characteristics to cobalt refiners and try to draw the same conclusions, but we can use these as starting points to benchmark a particular cobalt refiner’s risk rating.

Key To Compliance:

While there is no regulatory oversight around proper Cobalt Due Diligence, companies have begun issuing CRT’s and collecting data from their suppliers around the origin of the cobalt in their products. Similar to the formal SEC Dodd-Frank 1502 (conflict minerals regulation) proper due diligence goes from the tier 1 supplier, up to the smelter of origin.

Though cobalt is often bucketed into the general conflict minerals conversation, the “new conflict mineral” has supply chain characteristics that make it unique to the rest of the 3TG minerals. If you’re not sure about your involvement with the cobalt mineral, try this self-assessment that was created to better help companies understand their responsibilities around the ethical sourcing of cobalt.

If you’d like to learn more about cobalt due diligence, click here to speak with a materials sourcing expert.

Cobalt

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