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Mica mining?

While there is increased attention on mining for the production of electric vehicle batteries (e.g., cobalt, lithium), Porsche—like chemical companies BASF and Clariant, pharma company Merck, and even cosmetics companies including Chanel and L’Oreal—has joined the Responsible Mica Initiative (RMI), which assesses the working conditions for mica mining and processing.

Mica in 911s?

Porsche 911

Porsche 911 Carrera Coupe. (Image: Porsche)

Turns out that mica is used in paint.

And Porsche wants to make sure that the suppliers of its paint acquire their minerals responsibly.

Uwe-Karsten Städter, Member of the Executive Board responsible for Procurement at Porsche AG, said of the effort: “For Porsche, responsibility begins a long way from the factory gates. We require our suppliers to comply with internationally recognized social and environmental standards. The mining of raw materials is an important factor in that.”

India is a leading producer of mica, and two of the areas where it is mined—Jharkhand and Bihar—have high levels of poverty.

Städter: “Through our involvement in the Responsible Mica Initiative, we are taking responsibility for our impact on India’s mining regions. We want to improve people’s lives on the ground through concrete projects. We will also play an active role in developing and implementing sustainable industry standards.”

RMI logo

RMI describes itself: “The Responsible Mica Initiative is a Coalition for Action committed to operating according to five principles which reflect our mission, goal-oriented programs and partnership-based approach to enabling a responsible and sustainable mica supply chain in India free of child labor.”

Those principles are: “Think holistically; Be action-oriented; Stay humble, Innovate,  Collaborate above all.”

(Something useful even for non-NGOs to practice, too.)

Copper, too

Ford has announced that it has become the first corporate partner to The Copper Mark, which is an assurance organization dedicated to responsibly produced copper—mines, smelters, processors, etc.

The organization looks at aspects of the producers’ operations including human rights, labor and working conditions, community, environment and overall governance, including transparency, disclosure and business integrity. It is based on the framework established by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Copper cathodes

Copper cathodes. (Image: Ford)

Copper—not even taking EVs into account—is widely used in auto, for instrument panel wiring, engine wiring, cables, printed circuit boards, and radiators.

Bob Holycross, Ford vice president and chief sustainability and safety officer, said of its effort: “Transparency in our supply chain is key to ensuring the companies we work with align to our sustainability standards and principles. Our commitment to responsibly sourced copper is another way we’re working to put actions behind our words and show that what’s good for the planet is good for business.”

An Observation

One of the things that the auto industry doesn’t get enough credit for is its high levels of corporate responsibility. Whether it was companies like General Motors and Ford getting ahead of any politicians when it came to developing essential equipment and products to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, or any number of other OEMs who are providing equipment and resources to communities that are hit by natural disasters like the string of hurricanes that are battering the U.S., they are there.

While some may argue that it wasn’t always this way, the simple fact of the matter is that it is now, and credit to the leaders of OEMs the world over for being serious about being global citizens.


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