Electric Cars Is Ethical Motoring, But Are The Raw Materials Used Mined Ethically?
The days of uncertainty involving the usefulness of electric cars / vehicles for transportation are over. They are everywhere now and for good reason. Let’s start with the fact that electric vehicles are cheap in the long run and their operation is emission-free. Attributes like these are just some of the reasons that the demand for electric vehicles is rapidly increasing.
Electric cars use many rare materials, especially in their battery packs. Metals such Cobalt, lithium, and nickel are just a few. According to West Loop Mitsubishi of San Antonio, TX these metals are needed to make the lithium-ion batteries in the Outlander PHEV, among other cars. The problem is that with demand increasing rapidly, some side effects have occurred in the battery supply chain. For example, many of these raw materials come from third world countries where labor is often unreasonably cheap. Let’s look at the supply chain of Cobalt.
Cobalt is a metal found in the Earth’s crust and is one of the critical raw materials to make lithium-ion batteries. Cobalt is mined all over the world, but much of the global supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to UNICEF, some 240,000 people are involved in cobalt mining in Democratic Republic of Congo and wages may not be at the levels that they should. Thankfully, various groups are working to make sure working conditions and pay rise to acceptable levels.
Making a difference
Since the demand for cobalt and other scarce metals is driven not only electric car manufacturers but many other electronics companies (specifically cell phone manufacturers), these companies should be held accountable for enforcing ethically-sourcing policies. This is a top-down approach, and it has been shown to be very effective.
Oversight is involved
Thankfully, some companies are off to a good start. Let’s look at cobalt supply again. A few years ago, tech giants like Samsung and Sony combined forces and created the Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RPI). Members of the RPI have pledged to follow guidelines for the cobalt supply chain.
Other raw materials
In this article, we focused on just cobalt, but most of the other raw materials, in particular, the rare ones, are being overseen in a similar fashion. Thankfully, the days of exploitation and other practices are being addressed and being taken care of.