Parties to the Agreement for the Metals Sector strengthen cooperation in challenging third year

Parties to the International RBC Agreement for the Metals Sector look back on a challenging year. International developments such as the war in Ukraine and rising energy prices had a major impact on the sector. The urgency to realise responsible metals value chains is felt by the Parties to the Agreement, as is apparent from the annual report 2021-2022.

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Due diligence webtool

Despite the challenges, the Parties have worked both individually and collectively on responsible metals value chains over the past year. The annual report shows that more companies are integrating international responsible business conduct (international RBC) into their policies and that there is more frequent communication about progress in this area. This year, 10 out of 13 member companies published their international RBC policies, compared to 6 out of 11 in Year 2. This year, monitoring took place using the new due diligence webtool for the first time. With this tailor-made tool, companies can meet their due diligence obligations and improve associated processes. The tool has also been adapted for recycling companies: the tool takes both the upstream and downstream sides of the value chain into account. Furthermore, in Year 3 the Agreement focused on due diligence support for companies through knowledge sessions and 1-to-1 advice from civil society organisations.

Collective projects

Cooperation between the Parties increased last year, despite it being an area identified as requiring further work. During a working visit, for example, various subjects were discussed in order to gain a better understanding of each other's worlds and to explore opportunities for further cooperation. A study was carried out on occupational health and safety risks in mines in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia by CNV Internationaal. The results will be used in Year 4 for a collective project to improve labour conditions.

Tata Steel visited a manganese mine to talk to local stakeholders. Krommenhoek Metals and Global March Against Child Labour have initiated a study into the risks involved in processing scrap in Year 3. Moreover, two new companies joined the Agreement in this year: Raak Metals and Van Peperzeel.

Looking ahead to Year 4

In Year 4, further efforts will be made to support companies in implementing due diligence. The working group that deals with recycling wants to get large recycling companies on board to gain more insight into international sales chains and potential risks. The existing collective projects will also be continued in Year 4.

Prof. dr. Tineke Lambooy, Chairperson of the International RBC Agreement for the Metals Sector: “Human rights violations during the war in Ukraine and the dependency on Russian gas show us that international RBC and the realisation of responsible value chains are absolutely necessary. The Agreement challenges Parties to work together and find solutions instead of opposing each other. Let's use and apply lessons learned as part of existing international guidelines and future legislation in order to speed up efforts towards a responsible metals sector.”