Such is the need for metals in modern technology, mining is in overdrive. As a result, ethical concerns are often left by the wayside. C...
Such is the need for metals in modern technology, mining is in overdrive. As a result, ethical concerns are often left by the wayside. Countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo supply 65% of the world’s cobalt, according to Bloomberg, despite ethical questions hanging over their practices. However, new initiatives have been launched by multinational cobalt suppliers to ensure mining is ethical, a clear demonstration of the desires of investors.
Individual investors and institutional investors are seeking stock portfolios that retain a good return on investment without foregoing ethical practices. Social and environmental responsibility is high on the agenda, with car manufacturers promoting green energy. For the primary metals industry, there are a few key ways that the industry is reflecting this demand.
Legitimizing the gold trade
Jewelry has historically had issues with ethical sourcing, with specific reference to diamonds. The Kimberley Process, set up in wake of the diamond-fueld Sierra Leone civil war, did much to rectify the problem. Whilst not perfect, it has helped to stop unethically obtained diamonds entering global trade, with Forbes reporting that blockchain could assist the Kimberley Process even further. Similar processes have been built for precious metals as a response to investor interest. For example, Bazaar reported in March that Chopard had introduced a similar ethical gold procurement process in response to stakeholder pressure. The result is that gold, like that found in your Chopard Necklaces, Cartier bracelets or 1 oz American Gold Eagles, is likely to be ethically sourced and a sound investment for ethical investors.
The lithium question
Alongside the likes of cobalt and copper, lithium stands as a key digital device ingredient. Lithium ion batteries are, for now, the hallmark in portable electronics, though solid state glass batteries are making movements in the market. As a result, lithium is a solid investment prospect, and the price has risen and risen since 2015. As reported by Green Tech Media, lithium mining is causing environmental damage in Argentina and Bolivia, from where much production originates. The same report noted that the drive for ethical mining is increasing, and only likely to increase with demand for materials. Deploying high-tech measures, innovators in Canada have responded to market interest by developing ways to properly filtrate the wastewater produced by lithium mining.
Metals are driving the technology and luxury markets across the world, but come with notable caveats in terms of the treatment of the environment and workers in which the metals are produced. Controlling investors in companies are pushed by political and ethical forces to ensure their production is responsible. Through technology, it’s likely more confidence will be placed in our metals industry moving forward.