Chinese battery firms join Responsible Cobalt Initiative

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (CATL) and battery recycler GEM Co Ltd have joined the Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI), an industry group set up to tackle risks in the cobalt supply chain.

The RCI board on Friday approved the application from CATL, which makes lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs), the group’s executive secretary Christina Feng told Reuters, adding that GEM joined the group last week.

The 31-member RCI includes technology giants Apple Inc, HP Inc and Huawei [HWT.UL], Chinese cobalt producers such as Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co, South Korean battery maker Samsung SDI and automakers Volvo and BMW.

German car manufacturer Daimler also joined the RCI last month.

Cobalt is a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries used in EVs and consumer electronics.

“Battery companies are an important link in the cobalt supply chain and ... their active and positive engagement is indispensable,” Feng said.

The growing number of RCI members underscores how seriously cobalt users are taking the traceability of their material after allegations of sourcing via child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country that supplies about 60 percent of the world’s cobalt.

CATL, which is based in Ningde, plans to set up a battery plant in Europe. The company is preparing for a $2 billion initial public offering in Hong Kong. A company spokesman did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

GEM, which is based in Shenzhen, also makes battery materials and has a cobalt brand deliverable against the London Metal Exchange’s cobalt contract. The company did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Reporting by Tom Daly, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips