Fruitful discussions on responsible metals sourcing during LME-Week

Progress has been made with scaling up responsible sourcing efforts in the metals sector internationally. During the LME-week in London, the International Responsible Business Conduct Agreement for the Metals Sector engaged with a broad delegation of international stakeholders in de sector.
Fruitful discussions on responsible metals sourcing during LME-Week © SER

It was a rich discussion on what is needed to scale up the impact of responsible sourcing efforts and initiatives. The session also provided an opportunity for a dialogue on how the Dutch initiated Agreement complements and can support the international responsible sourcing strategy of the London Metal Exchange (LME). This metals trading platform is introducing responsible sourcing requirements for companies that trade on the Exchange.

During the breakfast session, the participants recognised the advantages of both initiatives. The synergies between the goals and objectives of the Agreement and the LME responsible sourcing program lie in the fact that they are both based on the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

Positive branding

The participants also exchanged views on the challenges for companies willing to undertake risk-based due diligence. These include the relatively high costs associated with due diligence and the negative public connotation around the publication of risks as prescribed by the OECD Guidelines. They called for the creation of positive branding for metals that are sourced responsibly, a fair distribution of due diligence costs and the creation of a level playing field for companies that source responsibly globally.

Awareness among consumers

They also called for more awareness raising among consumers on the risks in the metals supply chains and their role in addressing such risks. The involvement of suppliers in large metals producing countries is also crucial for ensuring structural and sustainable impact of responsible sourcing efforts. The role of governments and political institutions in this regard is deemed crucial for this.

Much work to be done

“We recognise that there is much work to do but also that the tin sector is not alone. Our goals are well aligned with the International RBC Metals Agreement,” Kay Nimmo, Manager of Sustainability and Regular Affairs, International Tin Association said during the session.
“By supporting the cooperation we hope to both share our knowledge and experiences and also learn from others. In particular what metal users expect from their mineral supply chain and, how the entire supply chain can work collaboratively to most effectively bring about positive change through practical activities and real leverage.”

Broad engagement

The breakfast session welcomed representatives from metals trading companies and logistics service providers, smelters, semi-product manufacturers, metal financing institutions, the London Metals Exchange, industry associations and a trade union. A presentation on the Agreement was followed by an update on the envisaged responsible sourcing program of the LME. Three signatories of the Agreement briefly informed the group about the added value of the Agreement for their respective organisations.

Agreement provides a platform

“The value of the collaboration lies in the fact that it provides a platform to voice the rights and interests of workers in the supply chains, who may otherwise be invisible in the responsible sourcing debate”, Marieke de Vries den Hollander of the trade union CNV International explained.

The Agreement is a collaboration between several stakeholders with the aim to increase the leverage of the group to collectively address negative (human rights and environmental) impacts in the metals supply chains. The Agreement provides companies with tailored guidance and tools for conducting risk-based due diligence in their supply chains, and serves as a platform for exchanging experiences and best-practices relating to responsible sourcing.

Ensuring uniformity

“The Agreement helps ensure uniformity of how responsible sourcing practices are monitored and assessed. It helps companies to understand where and how they can improve upon their practices. It also gives direct access to NGOs and trade unions committed to support companies in this regard”, according to Patrick Roeling, Category Manager Metals at Tata Steel Europe.

Co-organised with Dutch Embassy

The breakfast session during which the discussions took place was hosted at the residence of the ambassador of the Netherlands to the United Kingdom in London on 30 October 2019, and was co-organised with the embassy. Follow-up actions have been agreed upon with the different participants in relation to their further engagement in the Agreement.

Interested in learning more about the Agreement and how you can participate? Please visit our website or contact the secretariat using metalsagreement(at)ser.nl.