Manufacturers Vow to Ethically Source Materials for Electric Cars

Child labor in cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo among the concerns driving partnership.

Unrest in D.R. Congo
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Top automakers including Ford and Honda are vowing to maintain ethical and socially responsible standards in sourcing minerals for an anticipated ramp up in the production of electric vehicles.

Drive Sustainability, a partnership of 10 automotive companies, said in a statement Wednesday it would set up a raw materials observatory "to identify and address ethical, environmental, human and labor rights issues in the sourcing of raw materials."

Minerals including lithium, cobalt, and graphite are expected to be in demand in the years ahead as manufacturers devote more resources to electric-car production.

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Volkswagen, which has plans for more than 80 electric models by 2025, is looking for partners to provide battery and cells and related technology. Discussions by VW with Glencore, a major cobalt producer, reportedly concluded last week without an agreement.

More than half of the world's cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a nation, which according to Amnesty International uses child labor in its mines.

The pledge came as representatives from automotive companies and their suppliers met in Brussels to discuss the issue.

Founded five years ago, the partnership strives to increase sustainability throughout the global automotive supply chain.