Cobalt prices have quadrupled since hitting an all-time low just two years ago. The material’s use in the rechargeable batteries of electric cars and smartphones triggered a spike in the market and demand isn’t expected to slow.
Unfortunately, most corporations lack visibility of their cobalt supply chain beyond the smelters that purchase the ore from mines, or intermediaries. According to Amnesty International, the lack of accountability has led to insidious mining conditions, particularly in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which produces 60 percent of the world’s cobalt. Nearly 150,000 people work in “artisanal” mines plagued with collapsing shafts and harsh work environments. An estimated 40,000 child laborers are cheated out of pay, vulnerable to harm, and often handle the toxic material without gloves or masks.
In this piece published in Eco-Business, Sourcemap CEO Dr. Leo Bonanni argues that there is no excuse for companies not maintaining 100% traceability in their cobalt supply chains. The type of end-to-end traceability software that Sourcemap has used to map some of the world’s most complex supply chains can help rid high-risk and inhumane activities from cobalt sourcing.