Tesla visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Argentina for environmental and social risk assessments – Advice Eating

In its 2021 Impact Report, Tesla announced that it had visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Argentina to assess both environmental and societal risks.

Tesla said it took steps to complete social and environmental risk assessments by visiting both the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Argentina. You may remember some of the headlines in 2020 that focused on one of Tesla’s suppliers and a mine that was hijacked by artisanal miners who used child labor.

Tesla sent a delegation, including members of its Responsible Sourcing Committee, to visit suppliers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Argentina. Each trip included visits to mining sites and meetings with community representatives. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tesla attended a school, an orphanage and a maternity hospital.

“The trip to the DRC provided a more nuanced insight into the complex issue of artisanal and artisanal mining (ASM) and its history within the DRC. In Argentina, the trip focused on issues related to water use and the use of new technologies to mine lithium in a more energy-efficient way.”

Tesla was able to identify areas of risk along with cross-cutting issues in the cobalt, lithium and nickel supply chains that prioritized engagement. In these examples, Tesla listed the priorities along with some examples of actions Tesla has taken.

Fair working conditions and occupational safety.

Tesla has verified the following:

  • A supplier’s health and safety system.
  • A supplier’s digital system to monitor the risk of unavoidable landslides.
  • Evidence of progress in resolving security incidents.
  • Minutes of community meetings to raise awareness of safety risks related to landslides and trespassing.
  • A supplier’s obligation to conduct a Human Rights Risk and Impact Assessment (HRRIA).

Protection of water levels and water quality in waterways affected by suppliers’ operations.

In this area Tesla checked:

  • Data on water levels and water quality, including surface water environmental monitoring fiches.
  • Evidence that potential sources of acid leakage have been closed or remodeled.
  • Minutes of community meetings to raise awareness of potential sources of water pollution and mitigation actions.
  • Written assurance that water will not be discharged into water sources for nearby communities.

Tesla added that his delegation met with community officials to confirm that a supplier’s use of freshwater does not impact communities’ water access.

Tesla also helped set up a committee of independent environmental experts for another supplier that focused on both assessment and working with the supplier on environmental risk management.

Coexistence between industrial and artisanal mining.

In this section, Tesla reviewed:

  • Evidence of a supplier’s government commitment to support the legalization of mine sites.
  • Evidence of investment in initiatives supporting responsible artisanal mining.

Tesla added that it has met with representatives from artisanal mining communities and funded initiatives to support responsible artisanal mining. Because the Democratic Republic of the Congo is an important source of cobalt for Tesla’s battery. Tesla said

“We will continue to support sourcing from the Democratic Republic of the Congo provided our responsible sourcing standards are followed. Although Tesla does not source cobalt from Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM), we recognize the importance of ASM to local livelihoods. That’s why Tesla funds and sits on the steering committee of the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA), a multi-stakeholder initiative to support improving conditions in communities affected by artisanal mining.

Tesla does this by:

  • Awareness campaign for occupational safety and health protection for mine workers.
  • First aid training for miners and selection of safety captains.
  • Distribution of protective equipment to laundresses.
  • Creation of savings groups for members of the mining community coupled with financial literacy training.
  • Developed a referral system for children involved in mining, including child labor reporting protocol, remedial solution packs and remedial action guidelines for case managers in partnership with NGO Save the Children.
  • Training on children’s rights.
  • Electrification of five schools charging students by distributing portable solar lamps.
  • A marketplace and soccer field chosen for placement of lighting poles.

Protection of forests and biodiversity.

Tesla stopped by this area:

  • A supplier’s area of ​​operation in relation to nearby forest areas.
  • Supplier reforestation and remediation plans.
  • Written assurance that no mining activities have taken place in rainforest areas.
  • Environmental Impact Assessments.

Community consultation and engagement and protection of indigenous rights.

Tesla noted that it has been in direct contact with representatives of communities affected by mining. This was done to review the regular engagement and consultation that is taking place and to ensure that community needs are being addressed.

Along with the above, Tesla also verified the following:

  • Minutes of meetings to ensure communities were consulted regularly.
  • Evidence of a best-practice Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) process, including coordination with relevant government agencies.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

Tesla noted that its approach to measuring greenhouse gas emissions is currently being implemented. Tesla provided the following chart in its Impact Report

Graphic courtesy of Tesla

Tesla added that the data collected will help it develop the necessary measures to reduce its Scope 3 emissions.

“Based on an initial review, 15 refineries and mine sites in Tesla’s supply chain announced that they have completed an LCA.”


Tesla shared that in all identified areas of risk, it reviewed its suppliers’ audit frameworks to ensure all upcoming audits cover all areas identified in the sections above. A total of 55 corrective actions related to the environmental and social management processes of the suppliers were agreed with the suppliers.

Tesla also expanded its environmental and social requirements in supplier contracts. An example is responsible mining standards, LCAs and disclosure of greenhouse gas footprints along with transparent and proactive risk disclosure.

Tesla also developed a formal technical collaboration on sustainability with one of its suppliers.

Tesla’s collaboration with industry initiatives

Tesla also shared details of its collaboration with industry initiatives, noting that while many of the social and environmental issues in the global electric vehicle supply chain are not unique to Tesla, it actively engages in multi-stakeholder forums and industry groups to find solutions .

According to Tesla, the questions and solutions are:

Responsible Mining Insurance Initiative (IRMA): Tesla joined IRMA as a member in 2021 to support responsible mining practices and transparent and robust audit processes that highlight community interviews. It is important to Tesla that NGOs and communities actively participate in third-party audits of mines under the IRMA standard because their perspectives provide greater context on mining operations and the impact of mining, while increasing accountability and identifying opportunities for improvement.

“Global Battery Alliance (GBA): Tesla has been involved with the GBA since 2020 and has been a member of the GBA Board of Directors and the Battery Passport Steering Committee since 2021. Tesla’s goal as part of the GBA is to promote high standards for the responsible sourcing of battery materials, align with EU regulatory requirements, and support the development of actionable guidelines related to the collection of data on greenhouse gas emissions, recycling, and domestic environmental and social projects.

Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI): Tesla is a member of the RMI to support the RMI’s refinery audit programs and industry-wide dialogue on responsible sourcing.

“IFC Net Zero Roadmap Working Group: Tesla has been participating in the IFC working group since early 2022 to provide a downstream perspective on developing actionable guidance for mine sites to reduce carbon emissions.

“Re|Source: Tesla is joining the supply chain-wide Re|Source consortium to pilot blockchain-enabled traceability in the cobalt supply chain. Tesla provides OEM perspective insights into metrics critical to traceability efforts and is working with the consortium on the first blockchain-enabled end-to-end traceability of cobalt material, starting from Tesla’s supplier in the DRC to the Gigafactory Shanghai .”

Tesla’s support of the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA) was also mentioned. You can read the full impact report here.



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