At the Summit on Sustainable Development at the WEF in 2017, Benedikt Sobotka on behalf of the Eurasian Resources Group calls for fighting child labor in cobalt mining industry in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and recycling used energy sources.
Benedikt Sobotka shares, “We are responsible for children from those countries where we mine raw materials for accumulator batteries.”
In 2019, hydrocarbons still remain the main source of energy. However, climate change is forcing people in developed countries to look for some ways to reduce the harm, so they choose electric cars over regular ones, because gasoline and diesel engines burn oxygen, emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and pollute the air with nitrogen and sulfur compounds. By 2030, the number of electric cars is expected to increase to 130 million and every house and office will possess various smart devices operating on batteries. Oslo, Madrid, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Paris, London, and Brussels have already announced a plan to forbid vehicles that run on gasoline and diesel fuel in the center of their cities. Everything speaks to the fact that the accumulator batteries will soon replace harmful oil and coal.
However, minerals for accumulators need to be mined and processed, too, which is to say that it’s crucial to stick to every ethical norm of safe working conditions in mining and careful handling of the environment in the areas of production. Otherwise the accumulator batteries are no longer a humane alternative.
Global social responsibility
Talking about social responsibility, let’s take cobalt as an example. For today, two-thirds of the world’s cobalt supply are mined in one African country that is notorious for low standard of living and damaged ecology, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the one hand, cobalt provides large number of employment abilities for the people of the DRC, the ability to feed themselves and their families. On the other hand, there are 20% of reported cases of blatant violation of working conditions by companies in that field. For instance, child labor is a common thing in this area of cobalt mining.
In 2017, the largest companies of the industry, such as BASF, Enel and Volkswagen, met at the World Economic Forum to discuss business ethics in mining fossils for the production of accumulator batteries. They have founded the Global Battery Alliance that was first suggested by the CEO of ERG, Benedikt Sobotka, which works to forbid the use of child labor and recalls that the used energy carriers must be recycled.
Organizations that extract cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have joined the Alliance, and they do that honestly and ethically. For example, on behalf of the Eurasian Resources Group, Benedikt Sobotka earlier said that they have always protected children in the DRC from working in all subdivisions of the Eurasian Resources Group. Moreover, they hope that working in the Alliance with other large companies and public organizations, such as UNICEF, OECD, and the African Development Bank, will help them to get rid of child labor in all organizations that mine cobalt for accumulator batteries in the DRC.
The Eurasian Resources Group fights for the future of artificial communities in the DRC. It regularly:
– updates certification schemes
– finances schools
– helps to employ teachers for the school
– supports charity organizations that fight for women and children rights
The result of their work is 9,000 kids that do not have to work and can safely go to school instead in the DRC.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Eurasian Resources Group, Benedikt Sobotka, thinks that everyone should benefit from switching to alternative energy sources, such as accumulator batteries, both residents of developed and developing countries. “We must strive to ensure that adults and children from countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo can make their lives better,” — says Mr. Sobotka (from his Summit on Sustainable Development speech, 2017).
Eurasian Resources Group sets an outstanding example that proves it is not necessary to choose between social responsibility and profit. In 2018, Eurasian Resources Group mined 14 thousand tons of cobalt – which is enough to power 1.5 million electric cars.
Ethical consumption as the last element of the puzzle
However, both production and consumption must be ethical. At the Summit, it was discussed that residents of developed countries annually throw gadgets worth $ 52 billion. These are 300 tons of gold, silver, and palladium and other rare metals that people in poor countries mine, harming themselves and the environment. And consumers are throwing phones and tablets a couple of years after the purchase, along with the accumulator. Therefore, promoting ethics in the extraction and supply of cobalt is only half the business. The other half is to create a culture and opportunities in which people consciously recycle all unnecessary batteries.