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LG Chem becomes first Korean battery company to join RMI

LG Chem announced Monday it has become the first South Korean battery manufacturer to join the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

RMI is a global association established in 2008 that monitors the ethical sourcing of minerals -- such as gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten -- mined in conflict regions. It also keeps an eye on the sustainable mining of cobalt, an indispensable raw material for batteries used for smartphones and electric vehicles.

LG Chem said it joined the RMI to transparently source the minerals that are closely related to human rights and environment issues.

The European Union predicts the transition to electric mobility will exponentially increase the demand for cobalt in the next decade. According to the EU, as the mineral is mostly mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo and China, preemptive actions must be taken to resolve the foreseeable supply and demand imbalance. The rise in global demand for cobalt has also brought attention to child labor and contamination issues linked to its mining.

The EU plans to mandate guidelines by 2021 for members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to mandatorily manage sustainable sourcing of the minerals.

LG Chem said it hopes to collaborate with other RMI members to work toward sustainable mining in conflict regions.

RMI members include some 380 global automakers and information technology businesses such as Volkswagen, Renault and Apple.

Earlier this year, LG Chem joined a consortium including IBM, Ford, Hwayu Cobalt and RCS Global in adopting blockchain technology to improve the transparency of cobalt sourcing.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (