German luxury vehicle maker BMW has joined a global group that promotes ecologically and socially responsible mining in large-scale operations, becoming the first car company to be part of the certification program.
The Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) is one of many growing efforts to support the development of innovative and sustainable technologies in lithium-ion batteries, from mining and processing the raw materials to production and recycling.
IRMA measures the performance of mine sites against its Standard for Responsible Mining, which seeks to emulate for industrial-scale mine sites what has been done with certification programs in organic agriculture, responsible forestry and sustainable fisheries.
“Sustainability is an important aspect of our corporate strategy and we are fully aware of our responsibility in mineral value chains,” BMW board member, Andreas Wendt, said in a statement.
“For the BMW Group and its stakeholders, it is of the utmost importance that environmental and social standards are adhered to throughout the entire value chain. Raw materials form the basis for every industrial production process and our need will continue to grow accordingly,” added Wendt, who is responsible for purchasing and supplier networks.
BMW joined in November a pilot project also supported by chemicals giant BASF, battery maker Samsung SDI and a development agency, which seeks to improve working conditions for cobalt miners in the Congo.
The company expects demand for battery metals to grow 10-fold by 2025, which may trigger an upcoming global shortage of those minerals.
Other carmakers, including Ford and Volkswagen, recently joined a separate initiative, the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN). The scheme also aims to encourage responsible sourcing in the minerals supply chain and is due to launch in spring of this year.