Cobalt Reporting: If it's not required by law, why is it so important?

Question: Cobalt reporting is not yet required by any international legislation or regulation, though many companies receive requests from their customers. How do these companies handle cobalt reporting requests? Further, will cobalt reporting ever be required by legislation?

Answer: Companies of all sizes have been turning to the Responsible Minerals Initiative’s Cobalt Reporting Template (CRT), which has already been downloaded over 14,000 times in the second quarter of 2019. Cobalt can be found in alloys, magnets and battery cells, to name just a few applications. More and more organizations are continuing to get involved in voluntary Responsible Minerals reporting.

There are two major motivations for this:

  • Companies need to keep up with market expectations from customers, investors and non-governmental organizations.
  • Suppliers working with companies leading the charge on voluntary cobalt reporting need to provide detailed source of origin data.

If your customers are requesting cobalt reports, supporting their source of origin programs through detailed data collection is the best way to get out ahead of these requests. Materiality assessments can be done commodity by commodity, and materials engineers can be used to assess the scope. Alternatively, you could rely on test reports or full material disclosures. However, the most common option by far is to ask suppliers to declare if products or components could contain cobalt.

Finally, it is highly unlikely that cobalt reporting will ever be legislated, as legislators never intended for that to happen. Their goal was to get the ball rolling, so to speak, allowing the market to build continued pressure for companies to do more with regard to responsible mineral sourcing.

Article is current as of 2019-10-11.

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