Volkswagen Group joins Initiative For Responsible Mining

By joining IRMA, the Volkswagen Group commits itself to gradually applying the IRMA reponsible mining standards in its battery supply chains

The Volkswagen Group has underlined its commitment to sustainable mining by joining the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) ahead of buying raw materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and graphite as part of its ambitious electrification strategy.

By joining IRMA, the Volkswagen Group commits itself to gradually applying the IRMA standards in its battery supply chains.

Murat Aksel, Member of the Board for Procurement at the Volkswagen Group, said: "Standards are all the more effective the more consistently they are defined and the more partners adhere to them. IRMA brings together all the important players."

Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of the Initiative for Responsible Mining (IRMA), welcomed the Volkswagen’s Group membership and looked forward to working with them as they leverage their significant global reach to advance more responsible mining practices.

IRMA is an alliance of non-governmental organisations, labor unions, affected communities, investors, mining companies and purchasers of raw materials. With more than 50 diverse members, IRMA works to develop and establish rigorous standards for responsible extraction of raw materials in mining.

The Volkswagen Group's Code of Conduct already obliges all its business partners to comply with environmental and social criteria, including the strict exclusion of child labor. But corporate responsibility goes further: the Volkswagen Group therefore puts a strong focus on the implementation of rigorous and comprehensive standards in mining. Joining IRMA is an important step in this direction.

"The path to transparent and sustainable supply chains leads directly to the mine," said Aksel.

"That’s why we welcome the establishment of clear rules. Such standards are all the more effective the more consistently they are defined and the more partners adhere to them. IRMA brings together all the important players: The raw material suppliers, the raw material buyers, workers' representatives, civil society forces, investors and independent experts."

Joining IRMA enhances Volkswagen's moves to boost transparency to raw materials supply chain

As a globally recognised initiative, IRMA has pioneered the implementation of best practice social and environmental standards in the mining sector since 2006.

IRMA standards include the protection of human and community rights, the exclusion of corruption, health protection measures for workers and affected communities, work place safety and environmental protection: "The criteria range from groundwater protection to age checks on workers at the entrance to the mines," added Aksel. The focus is on industrial mining as well as the mineral processing industry.

For the Volkswagen Group, joining IRMA complements its own measures to bring light to the raw materials supply chain. Since 2019, all relevant direct business partners of the company have to undergo a mandatory sustainability ranking.

It assesses environmental and social standards on an equal footing with other criteria such as costs or quality. Since 2020, the Volkswagen Group has required full disclosure of the supply chain all the way to the mine for all new contracts for battery raw materials. Also in 2020, the Group introduced a new standardised raw material management system.

It covers battery raw materials such as cobalt, nickel, graphite and lithium, as well as conflict minerals such as tantalum and other raw materials such as aluminium, natural rubber and leather. Since 2021, Volkswagen Group has been the first automotive company to report publicly in a separate report on the group-wide measures for responsible sourcing of 16 raw materials.

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