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The challenge

As a leading cobalt exploration, mining and processing company in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Chemaf is facing increasing demands from its customers to demonstrate that the cobalt produced at its Etoile processing facilities is responsibly sourced.

In 2019, Chemaf underwent a third party audit against the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) cobalt assurance standard. The RMI’s Responsible Minerals Assurance Process (RMAP) for cobalt was introduced in late 2018 and at the time of Chemaf’s audit was in pilot implementation. Its aim is to provide a recognised audit framework for cobalt refiners that is aligned with the OECD Due Diligence Guidance and the Chinese Due Diligence Guidelines for Mineral Supply Chains that were developed by the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC). Smelters that successfully pass the RMAP audit are listed on the RMI’s list of RMAP-conformant cobalt smelters.

The 2019 audit identified several areas where Chemaf’s due diligence management system and processes were not conformant with the RMAP requirements. As several downstream purchasers of Chemaf’s cobalt production rely on the RMAP audit process to assure themselves that their responsible sourcing requirements are met, it was important for Chemaf to address this challenge.

Our approach

As the sole purchaser of Chemaf’s cobalt output, in 2020 Trafigura commissioned Kumi Consulting, a specialist responsible sourcing consultancy, to support Chemaf in implementing a corrective action plan. Kumi’s support to Chemaf included:

  • The development of management system policies, procedures and training materials to address management system non-conformances.
  • A site visit to Chemaf’s headquarters and those of third party suppliers of cobalt in the DRC to review and test the due diligence procedures that had been developed.
  • Ongoing engagement with Trafigura, the RMI and third party auditors to complete a re-assessment in 2020.

Following the re-assessment, Chemaf was found to be conformant with the requirements of the RMAP cobalt standard and, in November 2020, was admitted to the RMI’s conformant cobalt smelter list.