The virtual OECD Forum on Responsible Mineral Supply Chains on 27-28 April brought together representatives from government, business, and civil society, including trade unions, providing insights into the complexities of the supply chains ecosystems and the implementation of the OECD due diligence for multinational companies.

Various OECD partner events were organized across issues in the minerals global supply chain, including side events by the Initiative for Responsible Mining (IRMA) on due diligence beyond conflict-affected and high-risk areas and the Responsible Mining Index (RMI).

IndustriALL affiliates from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) participated in the Entreprise Générale du Cobalt (EGC) side event on Artisanal Cobalt Production: Towards a safe and Just Transition. EGC, a recently established cobalt mining company, is a subsidiary of the state-owned La Générale des Carrieres et des Mines (Gecamines). EGC holds the monopoly for the purchase, processing and sale of all cobalt produced by artisanal miners or companies involved in artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM). This makes EGC important to IndustriALL’s battery platform project.

“IndustriALL is giving special focus to the DRC given the importance of the country’s cobalt as a critical mineral in the transition to a low carbon economy. Additionally, the huge role of ASM in mining cobalt is another factor for the urgent need to organize the DRC affiliates around the OECD Forum on responsible minerals supply chains,”

says Glen Mpufane, IndustriALL director of mining.

Unions from DRC raised concerns on their exclusion from the developments and processes that led to the establishment of EGC and questioned the central role played by Trafigura, one of the world’s leading independent commodity trading and logistics companies.

Trafigura and its partners are solely responsible for developing responsible mining controls and traceability associated with ASM cobalt production, including the development of the first responsible sourcing standard for ASM cobalt in the DRC.

While the EGC process and governance put a premium on multi-stakeholder consultation and participation, trade unions were not consulted and are not represented in its committees, despite the huge presence and participation by non-governmental organizations. To address this, the affiliates will write letters to EGC and Trafigura expressing their concerns.

The unions committed to develop an engagement strategy on due diligence with the assistance of IndustriALL.

Sven Schwersensky, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung director for the DRC based in Kinshasa, coordinated the unions’ participation by bringing six affiliates to his office and linking them with Geneva, Johannesburg and to the forum in Paris.

“The virtual forum made it possible to participate in most sessions, creating an opportunity for capacity building and engagement for DRC affiliates,”

says Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Re-posted from IndustriAll.