Sustainable Procurement Framework for Cobalt

Umicore's pioneering approach to ethical cobalt sourcing

Umicore is the first company in the world to have introduced a Sustainable Procurement Framework for Cobalt and is the first to obtain external validation for its ethical procurement approach in this area. It aims to minimize the risk of any connection between the cobalt in its supply chain – and subsequently that of its customers – and human rights abuses or unethical business practices.

The framework builds on the specific approach to sustainable and ethical cobalt sourcing that Umicore introduced in 2004. Since then it has evolved to address specific risks linked to unethical mining practices, such as child labour and poor health and safety conditions.  

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A worldwide leader in cobalt

For over 100 years Umicore has been a world leader in cobalt products. Cobalt is used in many applications, from tooling to rechargeable batteries for electric cars.

Cobalt supply chain risks

Cobalt ore is found in many parts of the world. The raw material can be found in many parts of the world but some reserves are in regions fraught with challenges, giving rise to unethical practices such as forced labour, poor health and safety conditions, child labour and corruption.

Sustainable cobalt sourcing

We want to ensure that no unethically mined cobalt enters our process and our sustainable procurement framework for cobalt aims to protect our customers from any association with unethically sourced materials.

Due diligence process

To ensure the traceability of materials in our supply chain we carry out detailed research and risk assessments of our suppliers. This includes visiting plants, screening policies and procedures and, if required, developing improvement programmes.

Third party assurance

We have received independent third party validation for applying our sustainable procurement framework for cobalt and are committed to make continued improvements.

Read the compliance report for the audit on the reporting year 2019

Kokkola due diligence report 2019 Origin of cobalt raw materials 

Due Diligence Archive

Umicore's Position on Sustainable Cobalt Sourcing

Umicore confirms its commitment to ethical and sustainable cobalt

Latest update on 17 December 2019

Umicore commits to supply battery materials, including cobalt, in an ethical and sustainable way. We take all possible actions and measures in order to ensure clean and ethical cobalt in our supply chain. Accordingly we strongly contest any allegations to the contrary. 

Umicore was one of the first companies to proactively address issues such as human rights, child labor, occupational health and safety conditions and environmental impact related to the extraction of cobalt. 

Almost 15 years ago, Umicore made the decision to exclude entirely from its supply chain cobalt obtained from Artisanal and Small-scale Mining (ASM), as these involve unsafe and unhealthy working conditions and very often child labor, and established its specific sustainable procurement framework for cobalt. Since then, Umicore has acted as an industry leader to promote a responsible and sustainable supply of cobalt, exempt not only from ASM but also from abuses of the environment, workers’ health and their safety, and became the first supplier of battery materials to have a reputable third party reviewing its supply chain framework in accordance with the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines. 

Being the first company in the world with such a framework for cobalt and the first to obtain external validation for its ethical procurement approach in this area, Umicore is a true pioneer in providing its customers in the rechargeable battery value chain with materials of a certified clean and ethical origin.

Umicore’s approach to ethical cobalt sourcing is further described in its Sustainable Procurement Framework for Cobalt.

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