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Social and environmental problems with lithium and cobalt in modern technologies

FT 14th September 2017, The news that China will follow the UK and France in phasing out
fossil-fuel powered cars by 2030 was met by a spike in lithium prices this
week, as markets digested another sign that the future of auto will be
lithium-ion powered.

Coverage of this shift has been largely positive, not least in the context of the race to make our cities cleaner. But there is a
potential imbalance between the environmental benefits to developed markets
and the social and environmental costs in the developing world where the
raw materials for batteries are mined.

We at RCS Global addressed the challenges associated with cobalt in a recent report and they have been
well publicised over the past 18 months including in this newspaper and by
Amnesty International. But lithium-ion producers and buyers must
acknowledge that cobalt is not the only challenge they face.

As we note in a new report this month, the spike in demand risks amplifying the social
and environmental risks associated with the industry’s five key raw
materials: cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese and graphite. Approximately
two-thirds of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of
Congo, where there are severe issues ranging from environmental damage to
human rights abuses including child labour. Cobalt remains the most
difficult battery raw material to source ethically.


September 16, 2017 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, RARE EARTHS

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