BMW to buy cobalt direct from Australia, Morocco for EV batteries

FILE PHOTO: The BMW logo is seen on a car in Nice, France, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

PARIS (Reuters) - German carmaker BMW will buy cobalt, a key component for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, directly from mines in Australia and Morocco to ensure they are not produced by child labor, an executive said on Tuesday.

The announcement came as the London Metal Exchange (LME) launched an initiative under which it could ban or delist brands that are not responsibly sourced by 2022 to help root out metal tainted by child labor or corruption.

Andreas Wendt, BMW board member responsible for procurement, told a briefing in Paris that the new supply of cobalt would be used in the carmaker’s next generation of EVs in 2020.

A spokesman for mining and trading firm Glencore told Reuters his company would supply BMW with cobalt from its Australian Murrin Murrin mine, which last year produced 2,900 tonnes of cobalt.

The world’s largest known reserves of cobalt are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the raw ingredient is often mined by small, artisanal operations and supply chains are not strictly monitored.

BMW said last year it was exploring ways to improve working conditions for mining cobalt in Congo through a pilot project.

Reporting by Pratima Desai and Peter Hobson, writing by Eric Onstad; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Edmund Blair