Tesla Visited The DRC & Argentina For Environmental & Societal Risk Assessments

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

Tesla said that it has taken steps to complete social and environmental risk assessments by visiting both the Democratic Republic of 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 that used child labor.

Tesla sent a delegation that included members of its Responsible Sourcing Committee to visit suppliers in the DRC and Argentina. Each trip included visits to mining locations and meetings with community representatives. In the DRC, Tesla visited a school, an orphanage, and a maternity clinic.

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

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

Fair working conditions and occupational health and safety.

Tesla reviewed the following:

  • A supplier’s occupational health and safety system.
  • A supplier’s digital system to monitor the risk of unavoidable landslides.
  • Evidence of progress towards the elimination of safety-related incidents.
  • Minutes from community meetings to raise awareness around safety risks related to landslides and trespassing.
  • A supplier’s commitment to conduct a Human Rights Risk and Impact Assessment (HRRIA).

Protecting water levels and water quality in waterways affected by supplier operations.

In this area Tesla reviewed:

  • Data on water levels and water quality, including environmental surface water monitoring sheets.
  • Evidence that potential sources for acid leaks were decommissioned or re-engineered.
  • Minutes from community meetings to raise awareness of potential sources of water pollution and mitigation measures.
  • Written assurance that water is not discharged to water sources for nearby communities.

Tesla added that its delegation met with community representatives to confirm that a supplier’s usage of fresh water is not impacting the communities’ water access.

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

Co-existence between industrial and artisanal mining operations.

In this section, Tesla reviewed:

  • Evidence for a supplier’s government engagement in support of artisanal mine site legalization.
  • Evidence for investments into initiatives supporting responsible artisanal mining.

Tesla added that it met with representatives of artisanal mining groups and responsible provided funding to initiatives that support artisanal mining. This is because the DRC is an important source of cobalt for Tesla’s battery. Tesla said,

“We will continue supporting sourcing from the DRC provided our responsible sourcing standards are met. While Tesla does not source cobalt from Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM), we recognize the importance of ASM for local livelihoods. This is why Tesla provides funding to, and sits on, the Steering Committee of the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA), a multi-stakeholder initiative to support the improvement of conditions in communities impacted by artisanal mining.”

Tesla is doing this through the following:

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