Volkswagen joins sustainable mining initiative IRMA

Volkswagen announced that it joined a group to reach its environmental and social standards in the mining sector. Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance Being the world’s No.2 carmaker in the world it is essential that the raw materials used are sustainable for their upcoming models in the EV lineup. As a result, VW joins hands with the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA).

Big companies have come under increasing pressure from shareholders and consumers to meet stricter standards relating to the environment, social issues, and governance (ESG). Other carmaker members of IRMA include General Motors and Ford. “In many cases, it is not the Volkswagen Group itself that is going to purchase the raw materials,” said Murat Aksel, VW’s board member for purchasing. “But we want to know where they come from and under what conditions they are mined and processed.”

IRMA, which launched in 2006, includes both buyers and producers of minerals, investors, labor unions, community representatives, and independent experts.VW is making a huge push to ramp up EV output and has boosted spending in the area by around half to 52 billion euros, compared to the previous five-year rolling investment plan, it said in December.


Cobalt, a key component in EV batteries, has been in particular focus because the bulk of production comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has a large informal sector with a legacy of unsafe working practices and child labor. VW is participating in a pilot project in Congo with a mine operator to test new certification standards developed by another organization, CERA, Aksel added.

Additionally, he said VW also supported a European initiative to develop domestic sources of supply for critical minerals, which has targeted rare earth magnets used in EVs and wind turbines as its top priority. The moves to support the production of rare earth permanent magnets would mirror legislation introduced in the United States earlier this month to offer tax credits to makers of the devices there. The United States, the EU, and Britain aim to expand the output of the super-strong magnets used in electric vehicles (EVs) and wind turbines to help meet targets to cut carbon emissions and lessen dependence on China, whose producers currently dominate the global sector.

“The development of sustainable supply chains for raw materials is a core strategic goal for us. We believe that strengthening our European supplier network plays an important role in this,” he said, without giving details. In 2020, Volkswagen and Daimler launched a study to push for more “sustainable” mining in Chile of lithium, another key EV battery ingredient.


Tags: IRMA, Mining, Sustainability, Volkswagen
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