Volkswagen Group has joined the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) an alliance of non-governmental organisations working to develop and establish rigorous standards for responsible extraction of raw materials in mining.

The move, says Volkswagen, supports its ambition of becoming a “future climate-neutral mobility provider”. And while, it says, battery-electric vehicles are the most efficient way to combine climate protection and individual mobility, electrification places new demands for responsible sourcing, especially in the extraction of battery raw materials such as cobalt, lithium, nickel and graphite.

“The path to transparent and sustainable supply chains leads directly to the mine. That’s why we welcome the establishment of clear rules. Such standards are all the more effective the more consistently they are defined and the more partners adhere to them. IRMA brings together all the important players: the raw material suppliers, the raw material buyers, workers’ representatives, civil society forces, investors and independent experts,” explains the Volkswagen Group’s Board Member for Purchasing, Murat Aksel.

As a globally recognised initiative, IRMA has pioneered the implementation of best practice social and environmental standards in the mining sector since 2006. “It is encouraging to witness the momentum of companies joining IRMA, supporting the initiative’s commitment to multi-stakeholder governance and transparency,” said Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of IRMA. “We welcome the Volkswagen’s Group membership and look forward to working with them as they leverage their significant global reach to advance more responsible mining practices.”

IRMA standards include the protection of human and community rights, the exclusion of corruption, health protection measures for workers and affected communities, work-place safety and environmental protection: “The criteria range from groundwater protection to age checks on workers at the entrance to the mines,” says Murat Aksel. The focus is on industrial mining as well as the mineral processing industry. By joining, the Volkswagen Group commits itself to gradually applying the IRMA standards in its battery supply chains.