Daimler's Mercedes-Benz said it would in future source battery cells with cobalt & lithium only from certified mining sites, while significantly reducing cobalt.

It claims sourcing of cobalt and lithium exclusively from certified mines makes it a pioneer for the first cross-industry Standard for Responsible Mining of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance.

Countries of origin viewed as high risk are deliberately not generally excluded as sources of supply in accordance with the principle of using leverage before withdrawing.

For coming generations of battery cells, the automaker is already reducing the cobalt content to less than 10% and intends to dispense with materials such as cobalt entirely through post lithium ion technology with new material compositions.

"Mercedes-Benz's clear development goal is to significantly increase the range of future batteries through advances in energy density, to advance the production maturity of future battery technologies, to significantly reduce charging times, and to further reduce the use of critical materials," said R&D chief Markus Schaefer. 

In the company's contracts, suppliers will need to commit to working within their own supply chain to source exclusively from raw material suppliers who are audited in accordance with the IRMA mining standard. The supply chains will in the future also be regularly monitored.  

"We have had the supply chains for our Mercedes-Benz electric vehicle fleet audited in line with OECD guidance, all the way back to the mine, even though we don't source cobalt directly ourselves. Based on the insights gained, we will instruct our battery suppliers to only source cobalt and lithium from certified mining sites in the future," added Scaehfer.

"This way, in addition to child labour and a range of other social concerns, environmental risks in the mining of raw materials can also be minimised. By doing so, we are paving the way for clean raw materials, from which other participants in the market can also benefit. We will only work with suppliers who agree to comply with these requirements."