IPIS Due Diligence series – Comparative analysis between cobalt and 3T sourcing from the DRC

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This report compares the supply chains and traceability of 3T and cobalt ores in order to identify similarities, differences, and lessons learned from the decade of 3T experience in responsible sourcing, for the emerging cobalt initiatives.  

The experience of regulating responsible sourcing in the 3T sector has taught us the importance of engaging producing countries from the start of the drafting process. A top-down approach risks to be unaligned with existing regulations and state structures in producing countries. The involvement of producing countries from the start will ensure a buy-in which is indispensable in the implementation of regulatory measures.  

Another relevant lesson learned from the 3T experience is that responsible sourcing initiatives are only sustainable when ASM miners benefit from it. Buy-in of the ASM sector should be encouraged by ensuring that formal trade benefits miners while also keeping the mineral price competitive on the global market.  

Finally, the effectiveness of both regulatory measures and responsible sourcing programs hugely depends on the capacity of the people implementing it on the ground. In the past, initiatives have been too focused on improving the transparency of the mineral value chain, rather than on the governance of the mineral sector as a whole which would potentially have a larger positive effect on the mining communities.