A multi-stakeholder action platform, the Fair Cobalt Alliance offers actors across the cobalt supply chain a pre-competitive environment for collaboration to help strengthen and professionalise DRC’s artisanal cobalt mining sector and contribute to local economic development at large.
Through collaboration – change is possible.
A Disconnected Source
The demand for cobalt is increasing as its use in batteries and everyday technology grows. Most of the world’s supply of this highly sought-after mineral is produced in the Congolese province of Lualaba, and a significant proportion of that originates from artisanal mines. For communities in the region, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is one of very few easily accessible sources of employment.
ASM provides a livelihood for thousands in a country where many people have no job at all, yet it is associated with highly hazardous working conditions, systemic child labour, and unfair trading practices taking advantage of local workers selling to traders on the open market.
As it stands, most artisanal miners lack the means and expertise to adopt safer mining practices. While cobalt is heralded as a key ingredient in our global transition to a green economy, it is questionable whether the benefits it generates are being fairly distributed and reaching the communities who take the greatest risks in excavating it at its source.
Proud Members of the FCA
The FCA drives the development of fair cobalt by supporting the professionalisation of ASM site management, ensuring uptake of responsible mining practices and channelling financial investment into mine improvements. The goal is to make mines safer, minimising environmental impact and creating dignified working conditions for men and women working at the mines.
The occurrence of child labour in mining is a symptom of widespread poverty in the region and is not exclusive to the mining sector. In order to remediate and mitigate child labour in and around ASM sites and throughout local communities, we are working with local cooperatives and civil society to build a scalable child labour referral system to assist mine site operators in establishing effective controls and monitoring mechanisms.
Rather than simply banning children from mine sites, we seek to enable children identified at mines to attend school, benefit from vocational training and access job opportunities for local youth.
We set out to address the root causes that perpetuate high risks associated with artisanal mining: widespread poverty. The need to make a living drives many miners to accept poor working conditions at artisanal mines, often including children that need to contribute to their families’ incomes by working in and around the mine.
In an effort to support the ASM community transition into sustainable livelihoods, we promote investment in programmes outside mining and into opportunities designed to create sustainable livelihoods for as many community members as possible.
Blogging our activities and news since our conception in mid-2020. Here, you will find all our blogs ordered by date so you can easily follow the progress we’ve been making.
How to provide access to healthcare to artisanal cobalt miners in the DR Congo
In this guest blog post, Dr. Julius Emmrich, co-founder of Elucid Social, shares Elucid’s work on reducing financial barriers to healthcare in agri supply chains and the replication of this approach to the artisanal mining sector in the DR Congo. Access to healthcare is a human right. In sub-Saharan Africa, where less than 10% […]View article
Establishing fair trading practices at artisanal cobalt mine sites
One of the Fair Cobalt Alliance’s three strategic objectives is increasing the incomes of artisanal miners and their wider community. Key to that strategy is ensuring fair value retention at the point of mineral sales.View article
VSLAs – building peer-to-peer networks to strengthen financial resilience
VSLAs: What are they? Voluntary Savings and Loans Associations Reason for creation? Despite the increased income of artisanal miners compared to their peers in sectors such as agriculture, they are still poverty-stricken due to the mismanagement of their resources and the lack of financial education. Voluntary Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) are designed to support […]View article
Child Labour Remediation Hub for the DRC’s Mining Sector
This is an excerpt from the FCA 2022 Annual Impact and Finance Report authored by Ines Kaempfer, CEO of The Centre for Child Rights and Business, on the support provided to children working at mine sites, in collaboration with local organisations, to provide them with a path away from mining. The Child Labour Remediation […]View article
Publishing FCA Annual Report 2022
In our commitment to stay transparent about our work in the DR Congo, we are proud to publish the 2022 impact and financial report available here. Starting with a foreword (below) from the former Chairwoman of the Steering Committee, Angela Jorns and the Executive Director of the FCA, Assheton Stewart Carter, the annual report has, […]View article
2023 – The year of critical minerals
Critical minerals – critical to what? EU and US ambitions to reach net-zero or DR Congo’s long-term prosperity; they could mean the same – but do they? With the war raging in Eastern Europe, Europe’s reliance on Russian gas is more apparent than ever as average consumers and companies face skyrocketing gas prices. This has […]View article