GM joins IRMA to certify sustainability and human rights in EV supply chain
01 December 2021
General Motors has joined the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), adding another element to company programs that support the sustainability and human rights of the EV supply chain.
IRMA advances responsible mining practice through a comprehensive set of standards covering the four principles of Business Integrity, Planning for Positive Legacies, Social Responsibility and Environmental Responsibility.
As automotive battery demand expands globally, access to battery materials is of increasing importance. Given the critical role of EVs in reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, GM says it is committed to the responsible sourcing of the mined materials needed for EV production.
GM already requires suppliers to meet its standards and adhere to company values throughout the supply chain. The IRMA certification builds on this requirement as it encourages comprehensive, third-party assessments of mining practices while advancing a range of issues including health and safety, waste management, and compliance with local and international laws. GM says that its work with the initiative will also foster collaboration with other companies to share best practices and drive transformation of the mining industry toward more responsible operations.
Membership in the initiative is the latest development in GM’s commitment to promote the sustainability of an all-electric future. In recent months, GM has announced:
The company will reduce the use of cobalt, one of the mined materials essential to battery manufacturing. GM’s Ultium battery system requires 70% less cobalt.
A commercial collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR), allowing GM to extract local, low-cost lithium using a closed-loop, direct extraction process with no production tailing and lower carbon dioxide emissions when compared with traditional processes.
A collaboration between Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle to recycle up to 100% of the material scrap from battery cell manufacturing. The new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells to recycle battery materials, including cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum. Ninety-five percent of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries.
A strategic supplier agreement with Wolfspeed related to silicon carbide power device solutions that will enable GM to install more efficient EV propulsion that can result in longer EV range while lowering weight and conserving space.
An MOU with GE Renewable Energy to evaluate opportunities to improve supplies of heavy and light rare earth materials and magnets, copper and electrical steel used for manufacturing of electric vehicles and renewable energy equipment. Together, the companies will seek policies that are supportive of the establishment of secure, North American and European based supply chains for rare earth, copper and electrical steel materials needed to support EV and renewable power generation growth.
As it scales up EV production, GM plans to continue advancing sustainability within the EV life cycle through investment and innovation.
With due respect, this "green car" initiative has a huge challenge to pretend that lithium extraction will ever be remotely environmentally and socially beneficial!
Der Spiegel is Germany's largest news source
Posted by: Hugh Sharman | 01 December 2021 at 06:52 AM
Long but interesting article. My first comment is to not bet on the long term rise in commodity prices. Long term, most commodities have gone down in price as mining and processing have become more efficient. The one commodity that I would worry about is cobalt as the largest source is the Democratic Republic of Congo which is not a democratic republic. However, GM is reducing the amount of cobalt that they require and I expect that longer term, they will use lithium sulfur chemistry which has much more energy and uses zero cobalt. Sulfur is almost a throw away commodity.
I live in Utah about 20 air miles from a major copper mine and processing facility and about 40 air miles from 2 major sources of lithium. They are not a major environmental problem now but the copper processing might have been so in the past. The lithium is a by-product of other mineral extraction from the Great Salt Lake.
The best thing that Germany could do for the environment would be to reopen their nuclear power plants and quit burning coal and wood pellets. The nuclear power plants require far less steel, copper, and concrete for the power produced than wind turbines. They are also far safer. If they would build new Gen4 fast reactors, you can even use existing nuclear waste or depleted or natural uranium for fuel. In the US, it is estimated that we have enough stored depleted uranium to provide 100% of our power for 700 years. If that is not enough there are also nuclear processes that use thorium which is more plentiful than uranium.
Posted by: sd | 01 December 2021 at 07:53 PM
Gen4 fast reactors
This is the way
Posted by: SJC | 03 December 2021 at 12:51 AM