The London Metal Exchange (LME) has issued orders that copper producers who source metal from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to carry out independent audits to prove their material is ethically sourced.
This, according to media reports, is to avoid cases of child labor, conflict or corruption being linked to any metal traded. As such, the Copper producers buying from Congo will be categorized as higher-risk suppliers. This will put them in the same category as manufacturers of tin and cobalt.
This, then would mean the removal of copper producers from the LME’s list of deliverable brands. That is, unless a third-party auditor signs off on their sourcing standards. Producers will have to prove their activities to be ethical.
According to an LME spokesperson, the body is in the process of making revisions to its plans following feedback from industry associations. She further added that it will publish a position paper on the subject in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, with the lack of LME-listed copper brands originating from Congo, smelters in neighboring Zambia that import semi-processed ores known as concentrates from the DRC may need to carry out audits. There are four Zambian brands listed on the LME.
Additionally, LME will also require the producers of all metals to demonstrate compliance with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s responsible-sourcing guidelines. Consequently, Cobalt producers will have a shorter deadline by which to complete their supply-chain reviews, compared with suppliers of other metals. Moreover the Copper producers who can prove they don’t buy from Congo won’t be required to carry out a third-party audit. This also excludes producers of zinc, lead, aluminum, nickel, and molybdenum, which will be categorized as lower-risk suppliers.
Meanwhile, the chairperson of the International Wrought Copper Council Mark Loveitt expressed his skepticism of the implementation of the rule, citing how most of the criteria for responsible sourcing aren’t compatible with cooper