Cobalt and our 2019-20 Anti Slavery policy

Cobalt, “DRC” and “ASM”

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Image showing  the Tungsten Carbide teeth on an Ocean Footprint TCT saw blade

Recently there have been many stories in the media about high profile companies that manufacture mobile phones, and a major company manufacturing electric cars, have come unstuck due to their sourcing of a mineral called Cobalt from mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The stories have focussed on the use of child labour in these very dangerous mines, where the provision for Health and Safety and other rights we take for granted in the west are not offered. It is estimated that up to 20% of the cobalt that is mined in the DRC is mined by hand by what are defined as artisanal miners (ASM);

Rocks containing cobalt (ore)
Rocks containing cobalt (ore)

An artisanal miner or small-scale miner (ASM) is a subsistence miner who is not officially employed by a mining company, but works independently, mining various minerals or panning for gold using their own resources

Cobalt is found in every lithium-ion rechargeable battery on the planet – from smartphones to tablets to laptops to electric vehicles. It is also used to fashion superalloys to manufacture jet engines, gas turbines and magnetic steel. You cannot send an email, check social media, drive an electric car or fly home for the holidays without using something that uses some cobalt.

Cobalt is found in every lithium-ion rechargeable battery on the planet…

At Ocean Footprint we have decided we have a duty to implement an Anti Slavery policy whereby we will endeavour to complete due diligence to ensure that we will clearly not directly or indirectly support slavery and especially child labour. This includes chasing our supply chain to identify the raw materials that go to make up our quality products.

…happily reassure all of our customers that our cobalt is sourced ethically…

Tungsten Carbide structure
Tungsten Carbide structure

Our Burr tools and TCT saw blades that we supply extensively for the use in boatyards manufacturing boats, ferries and ships in aluminium, all use a very hard metal alloy called Tungsten Carbide. The manufacture of the Tungsten Carbide uses cobalt as a key part of the manufacturing process (circa  6-10%).

As soon as the team at Ocean Footprint were aware that there could be a chance that some of our products could be contributing indirectly to slavery and misery in Africa, we withdrew our products from sale until we were able to be sure that there was no slavery in our supply chain. We can now happily reassure all of our customers that our cobalt is sourced ethically through the mining giant Glencore who have a very clear policy of managing that their supply chain is focussed on the provision of human rights.

As part of our due diligence, we have obtained a letter stating Glencore’s commitment to the people of the DRC and stressing their commitment to invest in local services such as schools and holiday camps “to deter participation of children and women in artisanal mining.” – Source Irish Times

…address the endemic poverty in this region that is the underlying cause of artisanal mining…

Cobalt after refining
Cobalt after refining

Glencore –  “Local dependency on artisanal mining is reducing through creating and sustaining sustainable alternative livelihoods,” it said. “In addition, increased household revenue is available for the payment of school fees.” They then said “As a major producer and marketer of cobalt, we support efforts to establish greater transparency in the value chain, and address the endemic poverty in this region that is the underlying cause of artisanal mining,” Glencore said Monday. “We do not support ASM [artisanal mining], nor process or purchase any material derived from ASM in the DRC.”

Document downloads: (Click images below to open a new window)

Cobalt Statemet - Glencore AG
Cobalt Statement – Glencore AG
Ocean Footprint Ltd Modern Slavery Act Statement 2019-20
Ocean Footprint – Modern Slavery Statement 2019-20