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.
Developments in Supply Chain Traceability
This is a guest blog authored by Craig Woodburn, the head of ESG at Britishvolt, the UK’s foremost investor in battery cell technology and associated research and development. In this piece, Craig reflects on how far responsible sourcing of battery materials has come since the transition to a green economy started, the significance of the […]
FCA Quarterly Update – Q2 2022
In the second quarter of 2022, the FCA has made considerable progress in its efforts to support the transformation of the artisanal cobalt sector in the DRC. After a thorough recruitment process, we are excited to welcome to our team Alex Deprez, the new Country Director for the FCA. Leveraging more than two decades of […]
Rinse, wash, repeat – developing replicable solutions to make washing artisanal cobalt safe and fair
The FCA is determined to support the adoption of better health and safety practices in artisanal cobalt mine sites. Starting April this year, the washerwomen at the Kamilombe mine site, a partner mine of the FCA run by the cooperative CMDS, the women have been able to gain access to wader boots on a daily-hire […]
ASM for the prospect of better lives for themselves and their families.
Reflections by Hugh Brown on ASM around the world Artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) is not limited to the cobalt sector. Worldwide millions of men and women rely on ASM for their livelihood. Few people, if any, have visited a greater range and number of artisanal mine sites around the world than Hugh Brown – […]
FCA Quarterly Update – Q1 2022
With this blog, we’d like to reflect on the progress our team has made during the first quarter of 2022. Before we go into this, however, we would like to first remember the death of 6 workers at the Kamilombe mine in late January on which we previously reflected in a blog following these tragic […]
Why SUSHI BIKES has joined the Fair Cobalt Alliance
This is a guest blog authored by SUSHI BIKES founder and CEO Andy Weinzierl, as Munich-based SUSHI BIKES joins the FCA as the first e-bike brand, joining the growing membership of the FCA. SUSHI BIKES is a young start-up for e-bikes, founded in 2019. We produce quality e-bikes for the urban environment at an affordable […]