Benedikt Sobotka stood against exploitation of child labour at cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo at the World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Impact Summit in New York. He also called for an increase in the recycling of batteries.
“We have a responsibility towards children in countries where our company extracts raw materials for the batteries industry.”
– Benedikt Sobotka
Hydrocarbons remain the main source of energy in 2019. Nevertheless, people in developed countries are now increasingly choosing electric cars, as petrol and diesel engines emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and pollute the air with nitrogen and sulphur compounds. The number of electric cars will reach up to 130 million by the end of 2030 and each home and office will likely use smart devices ran by batteries. Oslo, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Paris, London, Madrid already declared that they will ban all vehicles working on petrol or diesel fuel in central areas. The way things are going, batteries will replace the environmentally damaging coal and oil as fuel sources.
Minerals for batteries must be extracted and processed with robust safety standards, proper working conditions, norms for responsible extraction and business ethics in mind.
Global social responsibility
Take, for instance, cobalt. Over two thirds of cobalt are extracted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Cobalt mining brings a significant amount of employment for people all around DRC but a large percentage may be tainted by illegal child labour.
In 2017, world leading companies including BASF, Enel and Volkswagen met at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos to discuss business ethics in minerals extraction for the production of batteries. As a result, the companies came together to found the Global Battery Alliance, with Eurasian Resources Group as a founding member, aimed at prohibiting the use of child labour and promoting battery recycling to increase the sustainability of the industry.The CEO of Eurasian Resources Group, Benedikt Sobotka reiterated the business’s commitment to help tackle child labour in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He hopes that through the Alliance and collaboration between major companies, international organisations and civil society, the illegal involvement of children in mining in the battery supply chain will be addressed.
Eurasian Resources Group supports children in the DRC
Through longstanding partnerships including with the Good Shepherd Sisters and Pact, Eurasian Resources Group focuses on helping tackle child labour and strengthen child protection norms.
In 2018 and early 2019, ERG continued to support more than 10,000 students through its educational initiatives in the DRC.
Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group, holds that the global battery sector should confer benefits to its participants across the value chain including children and local communities in the DRC.