Tesla has joined the Fair Cobalt Alliance, a group dedicated to the development of fair cobalt by ensuring responsible mining practices and challenging investments into mine improvements. The organization also aims to minimize the environmental impact of cobalt mining and create decent working conditions for those who work at a mine.
FCA works to keep children from working within any cobalt mine as well, as the group establishes control and monitoring mechanisms to ensure fair labor that does not include underage workers.
Tesla is one of ten total members of the Fair Cobalt Alliance, joining Glencore, the company’s cobalt provider.
Tesla and Glencore reached a deal earlier this year that would supply the automaker’s need for the rare Earth element.
Cobalt is one of the most controversial parts of electric vehicle production because of the questionable mining efforts that take place. However, Tesla has been diligent in its efforts to obtain responsibly sourced cobalt, and it detailed its process for mining the element in its most recent Environmental Impact Report.
“Tesla is committed to making working conditions in our supply chain safe and humane, ensuring that workers are treated with respect and dignity and that manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible,” the report indicated.
Tesla’s suppliers of cobalt are required and expected to follow the company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics. Many of the company’s direct suppliers obtain some raw materials through sub-contractors, but Tesla conducts due diligence practices that maintain the safety and respect of workers everywhere.
Additionally, Tesla has worked to remove cobalt altogether from its batteries. However, that technology is not yet available. While controversial, cobalt is a beneficial element in batteries. It stabilizes the battery during operation and also increases the longevity of the cell.
Eventually, Tesla plans to use cathodes that do not include cobalt.
“Tesla’s batteries use nickel-rich cathode materials which contain less cobalt than other widely use cathode chemistries in the industry with our ultimate goal being to eliminate cobalt completely from our cells,” the company said in the report.
Tesla’s partnership with the Fair Cobalt Alliance signifies the company’s long-term plans to create sustainable vehicles from start to finish. Not only is the electric automaker worried about eliminating carbon emissions while vehicles are operational, but also during the earliest stages of a car’s development. The responsible sourcing of Tesla’s raw materials shows that the company is not worried about saving a few dollars if it means the elements are sourced ethically.