Ford Motor to Join Initiative for Responsible MiningBy Alejandro Enríquez | Tue, 02/16/2021 - 09:11
Ford Motor Company becomes the first US automaker to join the initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, IRMA. “Everything we make and everything that goes into our products throughout the supply chain must not only comply with local laws but follow our commitment to sustainability and human rights protection. Joining IRMA helps us and other companies consistently achieve that goal by forwarding best practices to address environmental, social, and governance issues,” said Sue Slaughter, Ford’s Purchasing Director for Supply Chain Sustainability, in a statement.
IRMA offers independent third-party audits, verification, and certification based on a comprehensive standard for mined materials. It provides third-party verification on responsible mining practices, including certification according to comprehensive environmental and social criteria. “We welcome Ford's membership and commend its leadership as the first American automaker to join IRMA. We look forward to working with Ford as it joins a growing number of companies leveraging their purchasing to protect communities and the environment,” said Aimee Boulanger, Executive Director of IRMA.
Ford's step toward supply chain sustainability is strongly linked to its goal of "leading the electric vehicle and sustainable mobility revolution" with investments that add up to US$"22 billion. Through the IRMA certification, Ford will ensure that all mined materials for battery production are obtained through best mining practices. "Ford’s work with IRMA will support collaborative work with cross-industry brands so that together we may communicate to mining companies consistent, clear, shared expectations for responsible practices," said the company in a statement.
Aimee Boulanger, in an exclusive interview for MBN, affirmed that IRMA involves all parties involved in the mining activity. "We are governed equally by five stakeholder sectors. The mining industry has two seats on the board of directors but so do buyers of mining materials, labor unions, mining communities, and nonprofit NGOs. As a result, auditors know that their review has the integrity of all these stakeholders to back them up," she said.
It is no secret that the EV revolution is having a substantial effect on the mining sector. As previously reported by MBN, it has affected copper and lithium prices. More recently, during Mexico Mining Forum, UNEP said that the transition toward renewable energy will force mining operations to adapt, requiring a deeper integration. “We also promote the circular economy, related to eco-design, recycling and re-use in the mining process," she said.
Ford is one of Mexico's Top 10 vehicle producers, ranked sixth in 2019 with 249,605 vehicles produced in the country and eighth in 2020 with only 136,067 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent government lockdowns. Notably, the brand started to produce the fully EV Mustang Mach-E at its State of Mexico facility. Given its manufacturing footprint in the country, raw material suppliers, particularly steel and aluminum, should pay close attention.
According to Boulanger, IRMA scores are given separately to each mine, even if they belong to the same company. "A company with many mine sites will have various scores depending on the jurisdiction they operate in," she said. In Mexico, the Carrizal mine was the first to receive a score. Other companies have committed to the audit, including Anglo American and ArcelorMittal, the latter being the main supplier for high-quality steel for automotive applications. "Seventeen companies are registered in the first step of self-assessment and this is happening in over a dozen different countries that mine over 15 materials," she said.