A former manager for Microsoft Corp in China has been named as the first Executive Secretary of the Responsible Cobalt Initiative (RCI), which works to address social and environmental risks in the cobalt supply chain.
Christina Feng, who managed the U.S. tech giant’s program for the responsible sourcing of raw materials until January 2017, was appointed to the full-time RCI role earlier this month and will be based in Beijing.
The 28-member RCI, which groups high-profile cobalt users such as Apple Inc, Sony Corp, Volvo, and new member Daimler was established under the Chinese Chamber of Commerce for Metals, Minerals & Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC) in 2016.
It is currently in the process of selecting a premises for its secretariat in the Chinese capital.
Cobalt has shot to prominence in recent months and its price has skyrocketed due to expected growth in demand from the booming EV sector, especially in China.
But Amnesty International has warned of human rights abuses, including child labour, linked to cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which produces more than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt.
The RCI is currently chaired by the CCCMC, with China’s Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Co Ltd and Germany’s BMW as Vice Chairs.
Feng is planning to visit the DRC with child labour issues a top priority, acknowledging the complexity of this issue for the country.