London Metals Exchange to shake up rules on responsibly sourced metals [cobalt+]

Responsible Commodities Sourcing – Cobalt, Non-Ferrous Metals

LME to shake up rules on responsibly sourced metals
Concerns over cobalt that may have been mined by children has prompted change
Neil Hume, Natural Resources Editor
Financial Times, April 22, 2019
The London Metal Exchange will only allow responsibly sourced metals to be traded from 2022, as rising demand from consumers and investors for sustainable products prompts one of the biggest shake-ups in the organisation’s history.

Under the new rules, producers operating in high-risk areas or conflict zones will need to meet international guidelines on responsible sourcing or face being delisted from the 142-year-old exchange.
The plans,…mark a significant departure from the exchange’s history in which metallurgical standards have determined the brands of metals eligible to trade on the LME, the world’s biggest marketplace for the likes of copper, zinc and aluminium.

However, responsible sourcing has come into focus after it emerged in 2017 that some of the cobalt — a key material in the batteries of smartphones and electric vehicles — traded on the LME could have been mined by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo…

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London Metals Exchange Press Release
LME launches consultation on the introduction of responsible sourcing standards across all listed brands
23 April 2019
:: Builds on broad market engagement to LME’s 2018 responsible sourcing position paper
:: LME consultation details proposed responsible sourcing requirements for all listed brands
:: Requirements are consistent with, or build on, the core OECD Guidance, and utilise responsible sourcing work already undertaken by the industry
:: Phased approach to transparency to encourage all producers to embrace a fully open approach, including in respect of financial crime and corruption risks

The London Metal Exchange (“LME”) today launched a formal market-wide consultation on proposed rules for the application of responsible sourcing principles to all LME-listed brands. These rules build on the strong engagement with market stakeholders to the LME’s October 2018 position paper, and reflect the broad range of feedback which the LME has received.

Matthew Chamberlain, LME CEO, commented, “Our comprehensive market engagement exercise has revealed strong support for the LME taking action on this important topic. The LME’s role is now to appropriately balance the differing views of market stakeholders when implementing our requirements – and we are pleased to have been able to do so in today’s proposals. For example, based on the constructive feedback of civil society organisations, we have enhanced our transparency requirements, and at the same time, we have respected the views of producers who have called for more achievable timelines and a clearly-defined reporting process.”

The LME’s proposed rules will require all of its listed brands to undertake a Red Flag Assessment, based on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (“OECD”) Guidance, by the end of 2020. If this assessment demonstrates potential responsible sourcing red flags, then that brand will be classified as a Higher-Focus Brand and will also need to be audited as compliant with an OECD-aligned standard by the end of 2022.

The LME’s phased transparency approach will ensure that all LME-listed brands publish fully attributed Red Flag Assessments to the market by the end of 2024, while respecting requirements of commercial confidentiality. In this way, the LME will deploy the twin tools of transparency (allowing interested stakeholders to engage with a brand on its responsible sourcing strategy) and standards (providing certainty to buyers of metal on the LME, and hence global consumers, that all brands meet a minimum level of responsible sourcing compliance). The LME is committed to a consensual approach, but if proved to be ineffective, the LME’s core power is to suspend or delist brands which do not engage on either transparency or standards alignment.

The LME’s requirements are consistent with the OECD Guidance, and have been designed specifically to respect and build on work already undertaken by industry bodies and companies in designing Red Flag Assessment templates and standards. However, based on stakeholder feedback, the LME’s proposals adopt a broad interpretation of the core OECD requirements in certain key respects. In addition to transparency standards, these requirements include a more comprehensive set of potential risks which may trigger red flags, as well as requiring ISO, OHSAS or equivalent standards for environmental management and occupational health and safety.

The LME has also taken on board market feedback around the balance between large-scale mining (“LSM”) and artisanal and small-scale mining (“ASM”) – and believes that, with the right governance, it can provide meaningful protection against the risks involved in both. The LME is therefore committed to adopting a fair and non-discriminatory approach to ASM and LSM in its responsible sourcing initiatives and implementing an appropriate risk assessment tailored to both models. In particular, the Red Flag Assessment will require producers to confirm whether they facilitate the disclosure of potential financial crime and corruption risks under the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (“EITI”), thus addressing one of the key concerns in respect of LSM.

Finally, the LME recognises that the metals trading community wishes to make a tangible contribution to progress and improvement in the physical market which it serves. Accordingly, the LME has allocated an initial contribution of US$2 million, from the proceeds of fines levied on the LME market, to charitable initiatives in the responsible sourcing sector.

Global consumers rightly demand action on responsible sourcing – and our industry must listen. The LME is taking action because it is the right thing to do, but also because the value of our market is based on providing metal which is acceptable to those consumers, and because the metals sector looks to us to provide leadership on these important topics. Our role will necessarily be to forge a consensus between the potentially divergent views of various stakeholders – and this role is never popular. Nevertheless, we are committed to playing our part in this movement,” Chamberlain added

Tyler Gillard, Head of OECD’s Responsible Business Conduct Unit said “The OECD is delighted to have worked with the LME over recent months in order to drive its responsible sourcing proposals forward. It is always a challenge to balance the broad range of market views while aligning with global standards. We are happy to see that the LME’s approach, which builds on existing frameworks, strikes the right balance and provides a strong basis for the responsible sourcing of metals in line with the OECD Guidance.”

Sun Lihui, Director of the Development Department of the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals Minerals & Chemicals Importers & Exporters (“CCCMC”) said “In recent years, the global focus on responsible sourcing of raw materials has expanded from traditional physical requirements to include environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) concerns. As the world’s most influential non-ferrous metal trading exchange, the LME is the first to formulate and publish a responsible sourcing policy on copper, aluminium, lead, zinc, nickel, tin, and cobalt. It plays a positive role in transforming and leading the global non-ferrous metals industry procurement and trade policy, and will promote companies to improve their supply chain management capacity continuously. It is not easy to establish an inclusive, balanced, effective and practical responsible sourcing policy because of the complexity, persistent and variation of supply chain risks of different metals. The LME is committed to addressing this challenge in a multi-stakeholder approach. I am pleased to have participated in and witnessed the drafting and revision of this policy, and I am willing to work closely with the LME to make a positive contribution on building a responsible, green, inclusive and sustainable supply chain of raw materials.”

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LME proposes requirements for the responsible sourcing of metal in listed brands
5 October 2018
The London Metal Exchange (LME) today published a position paper detailing new proposed requirements for listed brands regarding the responsible sourcing of metals, which align with the principles set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) “Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas” (Guidance)…

…The LME will work together with producers to assist them in assessing and identifying the “red flags” (as prescribed in the OECD Guidance) associated with the production of individual brands, which will then be classified as either “higher-focus” or “lower-focus”. Higher-focus brands – which will automatically include all cobalt and tin brands due to their higher risk of being affected by responsible sourcing concerns – will be required to adopt a standard that is aligned with the OECD Guidance and must demonstrate via an external “alignment assessment” and audit process the respective compliance of the standard to the guidance and of the brand to the standard.

For the other eight physically settled base metals listed on the LME (aluminium, both aluminium alloys, copper, lead, molybdenum, nickel and zinc), brands will be classified subject to the results of the red flag self-assessment….

Cobalt provisions
The LME notes specifically the market concerns in respect of cobalt, and is proposing a transitional provision which would come into effect by the third quarter of 2019, whereby cobalt brands which are exerting a demonstrable negative impact on LME pricing (which may be due to market concerns as to the responsible sourcing credentials of that brand) may be subject to action at an earlier date.