Tesla has joined the new Fair Cobalt Alliance, which was launched last month and is intended to improve working conditions at small-scale mining operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Cobalt is one of the main elements in electric vehicle (EV) batteries, and almost 3/4 of the world’s supply comes from the DRC.
While there are numerous major mining sites in the country, there are also many small-scale, “artisnal” mining sites which are known for hiring child labour. According to human rights groups, much of that cobalt can get mixed in with the industrial output.
With EVs becoming as popular as they are today, and the expectation they will only grow in the future, how cobalt is sourced has become a key issue for automakers.
One of the other companies that have recently joined the alliance is Glencore. Earlier this year, Tesla signed a new deal with Glencore to buy as much as 6,000 tons of cobalt per year.
Despite the need for cobalt in EV batteries today, Tesla is working with industry leaders in battery technology to reduce the reliance on the controversial element, and even develop cobalt-free batteries.