Nov 12, 2020

Mercedes-Benz applies brakes to cobalt and lithium

Dominic Ellis
2 min
The carmaker is keen to strengthen human rights and environmental protection within its Ambition 2039 framework
The carmaker is keen to strengthen human rights and environmental protection within its Ambition 2039 framework...

Mercedes-Benz is to apply stringent selection processes to cobalt supply chains and ensure raw lithium is sustainably extracted under IRMA mining standards, as sustainability becomes an increasingly central pillar of the carmarker's purchasing and EV strategy.

The company is being driven by a desire to strengthen human rights and environmental protection within its 'Ambition 2039' framework, whose focus is to reduce CO2 emissions, and becomes reliant on sustainable supply chains for its electric vehicle fleet.

Two years ago, it commissioned the auditing and advisory firm RCS Global to establish transparency over the complex cobalt supply chains behind battery cells and to audit these at every stage in accordance with OECD Due Diligence. More than 120 suppliers were identified and 60 audits were conducted after a corresponding risk assessment. 

As things stand, there are currently no cobalt mines certified in accordance with IRMA's Standard for Responsible Mining. Cobalt is one of the raw materials in batteries that is subject "to intense criticism in terms of human rights," Mercedes-Benz said in a statement. Daimler is committed to combating child labour through education projects in India and the Congo (click here).  

"Our aspiration is very clear: we want our products to contain only raw materials that have been mined and produced without human rights violations. This is one of the core elements of our sustainable business strategy," said Renata Jungo Brüngger, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz, responsible for Integrity and Legal Affairs.

"This way, we are putting an important element of our Human Rights Respect System into practice and are shaping the path to electric drive systems in a sustainable way. If there are any indications of risk, we take another, closer look at the supply chain. This involves us going beyond the direct suppliers and creating transparency, if necessary all the way back to the mine." 

In future, it wants to use post-lithium-ion technologies with new material compositions to completely dispense with materials such as cobalt.  

Mercedes-Benz is also working to ensure that lithium is sustainably extracted and that the IRMA mining standard will be enshrined in supply contracts. 

Sourcing of cobalt and lithium exclusively from certified mines would make Mercedes-Benz AG a pioneer for the first cross-industry 'Standard for Responsible Mining'.

Share article

Jun 29, 2021

Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations

battery metals
2 min
Vale’s $150mn investment in operations at Thompson, Manitoba will extend mine life by 10 years

Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.

Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel

The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.

“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.

“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”

Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba

Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.

“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.

“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”

The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history.  Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.

“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.

Share article