PRODUCTION of cobalt by artisanal miners cannot be “wished away”, reported the Financial Times citing the comments of Jeremy Weir, the head of commodity trading company, Trafigura.
Weir’s comments come amid concerns by non-governmental organisations that some cobalt supplies used in the manufacture of batteries for new age electric vehicles is mined by children working in the Democratic of Congo’s (DRC’s) artisanal mines. Roughly two-thirds of the world’s cobalt is found in the DRC.
Addressing delegates at the start of LME Week in London, Weir said: “The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the DRC who earn a living through work in the ASM sector. It’s illegal in many cases; it’s unregulated and can be very dangerous. But it can’t be wished away.”
Weir said the DRC was fraught with problems. “One of these challenges relates to the role of artisanal, small-scale mining, commonly referred to as ASM.
“Now I’m completely clear about the risks and other problems involved in ASM. It would obviously be preferable if we could secure all the needed supplies through industrial mining operations. But the fact is that we’re not in that happy position,” he said.
Weir said an approach would not be to shun artisanal mining in the DRC but to ensure that it was regulated.