FCA Quarterly - Q4 2023

Achieving tangible impact in artisanal cobalt mining communities

The Fair Cobalt Alliance’s strategic approach to achieving its objectives and tangible impact in artisanal cobalt mining communities comprises five different workstreams geared towards improving the ground conditions of artisanal miners. In this section, we highlight our team’s activities in realising our goals, separated into these five workstreams geared towards improving the ground conditions of artisanal miners.

Enabling safe and dignified working conditions

PPE distribution

To continue in our approach to ensure better and dignified working conditions, on December 1st,  the FCA team delivered PPE for the CMDS sanitation agents, one of the groups that had not yet received proper working equipment. The agents received high-quality PVC gloves, goggles, face masks, and boots. 17 pairs of rubber boots, 34 pairs of PVC gloves, 34 goggles and 170 nose muffs were provided to the site cleaners.

Operational Health and Safety (OHS)

Late last year, a 34-year-old man, while helping lift ore from the underground to the outside of one tunnel at the Kamilombe mine site, came into contact with a poorly insulated live cable, resulting in his tragic death. This serves as a poor reminder of the need to improve the operational health and safety of ASM operations and that despite our best efforts, positive change could not happen fast enough. The FCA’s partner mine site cooperative, CMDS, has supported the family of the deceased digger by covering the funeral expenses, and sensitisation of the digger and pit owners has since been done on the risk of electrocution and best practice mitigation exercises to undertake.

The FCA team, in collaboration with CMDS, have recorded the exact number of active mine pits. Carried out jointly with CMDS and SAEMAPE, 270 active pits have been identified, including 147 covered and 123 uncovered. This has been a great achievement because it allows us to keep track of the work happening on-site and permits us to have clear statistics to continue improving the workers’ safety. As a result, the FCA has more defined data that allows it to continue to cover the rest of the pits.

The FCA donated an ID printer to the CMDS management. This printer enables them to seamlessly continue the registration process for all mine workers and facilitate the issuance of CMDS ID cards. Additionally, the availability of ID cards enhances on-site access control, thereby enhancing safety measures.

Having already covered 5 experimental mine pits with 450 iron sheets, using frames reinforced with concrete at the base in the last quarter, the FCA spent Q4 planning for the continuation of this project in early 2024, targeting to cover at least 45 pits with approximately 5,800 sheets.

To conduct an end-of-year assessment, the FCA team and CMDS management convened a comprehensive meeting to analyse the effectiveness of activities implemented at the mine site thus far and set objectives for the upcoming year. The meeting’s overarching result showcases significant enhancements in safety measures and a notable decrease in on-site accidents.

Toolbox training

Throughout the final quarter of the year, the dedicated safety captains spearheaded a series of engaging toolbox sessions, each made to tackle critical workplace safety concerns. Two themes took centre stage during these sessions:

  • – Fatigue Management: Recognising the pervasive impact of fatigue on workplace safety and productivity, our safety captains dove into strategies and best practices for effectively managing fatigue.
  • – Danger of Rain: With a keen eye on environmental hazards, our safety captains addressed the dangers posed by rain on the mine site. Participants explored the multifaceted risks associated with rainy conditions, from slippery surfaces to water infiltration.

Spanning various areas of the Kamilombe mine site, these enlightening sessions continue to provide essential knowledge and foster a culture of safety awareness and proactive risk management among the mine workers.  The FCA continues to uphold its commitment to ensuring a safe and secure work environment for all.

Child Labour Remediation

As part of the programme to decrease and eventually eliminate child labour, The Hub continues its child labour identification and remediation efforts in the Lualaba region. Here are the latest updates:

–  18 children under the remediation programme
– 13 junior (approved) case managers
– 9 deployed case managers
– 18  children currently under the remediation programme
– 1 child who dropped out of the programme
– 1 child who completed the programme
– 50 % remediation success rate

More information about The Hub is available here.

Raising worker incomes

Saving groups

The saving groups represent a key element in raising the workers and the community’s incomes and help the diversification of revenue sources. Through the A.F.A NGO, the FCA is working with a group of ASM workers and members of the mining community of Kapata to support them in improving their economic resilience and financial literacy. As the year comes to an end, here is a summary of the data collected since January 2023:

– 721 people (407 women, 314 men) reached through the saving groups’ sensitisation efforts through Churches and local administrative frameworks.  As a result, 242 people joined the 10 saving groups created in 2023.
– 21 groups are operational, including the 10 newly established and 11 existing groups
– 10 savings kits produced and made available to the 10 AVEC new saving groups
– A total of 456 people participated in savings activities
– 605 savings meetings held in 2023
– $41,505.82, mobilised as savings funds
– $2,591.93, mobilised as solidarity funds
– 456 people accessed a loan
– $43,929.56, granted as loans to members
– $12,175.95, repaid during the period
– 2 monitoring meetings were held with A.F.A.
– 120 micro-enterprises identified and created
– 299 people trained in entrepreneurship and financial education
– 250  members trained in conflict management
– 80  members trained in the VSLA methodology, group dynamics, and leadership

More context about the VSLAs can be found here.

Achieving market acceptance of Fair ASM Cobalt

Responsible Cobalt Credits

With the launch of the Cobalt Credit system through the pilot with Fairphone in August 2023, the FCA spent Q4 socialising the mechanism with other stakeholders – outside of our membership – across the cobalt battery chain. The Cobalt Credit system is a book and claim mechanism developed by the FCA to connect downstream actors eager to ensure the supply of responsibly produced artisanal minerals with upstream artisanal producers committed to adopting better practices, allowing downstream actors to buy credits per tonne of cobalt equivalent to their cobalt consumption.

Cobalt credit process.

The funds generated from the sale of Responsible Mineral Credits (RMCs) are prioritised for mine improvements across four priority areas: Good governance, Safe and dignified working conditions, environmental protection and inclusive economic development. The revenue generation from credit sales will enable the trajectory of the mine to score higher against relevant sector standards, including the DRC ASM standard, Certified Trading Chains, and the RMI ASM Normative Framework, co-developed by The Impact Facility. Investment into mine improvements through the revenue from credit sales will progressively limit FCA’s direct involvement in the site, enabling a prioritisation of the FCA activities to other mine sites that score lower against the standards.

To learn more about the responsible cobalt credits, visit our webpage here.

M&E Framework 

The FCA continues to use the adjusted measurement and evaluation framework, whose development was finalised in Q2 of the year, to track progress against our workstreams and plan for 2024.

Creating an enabling environment

To achieve tangible impact on the ground,  the FCA also has workstreams dedicated to creating the right environment to ensure the success and uptake of its programme. These are:

FCA governance & member engagement

The FCA spent the last three months of 2023 designing and seeking approval from the Steering Committee (SC) on the 2024 budget. With financing from the Dutch government coming to an end at the end of the year, even though corporate member contributions remained stable, the 2024 budget was set to be slightly lower than the 2024 budget. The 2024 – 2026 strategy, also approved by the Steering Committee,  was used to inform the budget priorities.


Outside the Steering Committee, the FCA elaborated the 2024 budget and strategy with the FCA members in the first half of November and the Advisory Board (AB) during the second annual meeting in November. The AB is a group of subject-matter experts that provide strategic (non-binding) advice to the FCA Secretariat for the realisation of the multi-stakeholder initiative’s goals.

Forging strategic partnerships & government relations

In its quest to formalise its relations with the Congolese government, the FCA has been working closely with the CTCPM and the Ministry of Mines (MoM) to sign an agreement in alignment with the MoM’s request – outlined during the March 2023 5-year strategic plan presentation –  for technical and financial partners (PTF) to formalise their relationship with the relevant government entities.

The FCA attended the Conseil Présidentiel de veille Stratégique (CPVS) workshop in Kinshasa in November 2023. The workshop’s primary objective was to identify innovative solutions and effective measures to address the chronic issues plaguing the mining sector in the DRC. Present at this meeting were a wide range of stakeholders including civil society, miners, government actors, and international actors. The FCA took charge of moderating the working group on ASM cooperatives, specifically addressing the question: “What is the best cooperative model for the professionalisation of artisanal mining?” The results of this workshop were presented to CPVS, who will produce a complete report that will be presented to the president’s cabinet.

Outreach, Fundraising & Recruitment

Two major requests for proposals (RFP) windows fell towards the end of the year, and as such, the Fair Cobalt Alliance dedicated a lot of effort to facilitating consortiums for the application of funding from the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) and the USAID funding opportunity made available through the Africa Trade Initiative (ATI). These applications present, if approved, major sources of funding that will enable the scaling of the FCA’s work at Kamilombe.

In the meantime, the FCA is working towards piloting in 2024, the adoption of digital payments at the artisanal cobalt mining community in Kamilombe, in partnership with the Trust Merchant bank’s Pepele Mobile payment platform, through the support of the Jet Minerals Challenge. Follow our journey as a Powering a Just Energy Transition Green Minerals Challenge (JET Minerals Challenge) winner by visiting the Countering Transnational Corruption Grand Challenge website.

On events, the FCA team was present in November during the Finance Against Slavery & Trafficking (FAST) forum in The Netherlands. FAST is a multi-stakeholder initiative based at the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research that aims to mobilise the financial sector against modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) and acts as a knowledge partner for governments, multilateral organisations and finance. The FCA was present to demonstrate the efforts that companies can take to mitigate and remediate child labour occurrences across their supply chains, here leveraging the work of The Hub, a Child labour and mitigation programme co-developed with our partners Save the Children Germany and The Centre for Child Rights and Business, set up in the DRC to provide multi-year educational, housing, psychological and family reintegration support (where possible) to the children identified working at mine sites.

The FCA also attended the RMI Annual Conference in the USA, raising awareness of our work in professionalising the artisanal cobalt mining sector and connecting with relevant stakeholders in the sector.

Relevant blogs and publications
  1. Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA) | November 2 |  2023 – FCA Quarterly – Q3 2023
  2. Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA) | November 8 | Empowering Women in Cobalt Mining: A Path to Eliminating Child labour in Lualaba, DR Congo
  3. VRT News (Dutch) | December 7 | From cobalt to electric cars: how the Congolese population hardly shares in mega profits