London Metal Exchange aims to ban unethically sourced metal

The London Metal Exchange is considering removing companies from its list of approved metal suppliers who do not meet industry standards, following growing outcry about child labour taking place in African cobalt mining.

The exchange is set to issue principles for responsible metal sourcing in the next few months while producers will also have to prove their metals conform to industry standards and new LME guidelines.

“The LME has to be policeman. It can do that by making sure industry standards on child labor and conflict minerals are being met, that there is auditing and certification,” said a source on the LME committee.

Responsible sourcing of metals has come under greater scrutiny in recent weeks as the electric vehicle market hovers on the brink of a boom, and lithium-ion battery manufacturers scramble to source vital metallic components in the high energy density metals.

Cobalt is one of these important metals required in the making of lithium-ion batteries, and up to 65% of the world’s supply is found in Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, reports of child labour in artisanal cobalt mining regions of the country have been widespread, along with other conflict-driven mining and other unethical practises.

In November, the LME sent a survey to producers in asking about the sourcing, auditing and certification of metal that can be delivered against LME contracts.