The dark side of electric cars
BMW's next-generation electric cars will feature a little bit of Australia.
Precious metals from Australia and Morocco will feature heavily in the brand's green vehicles following a decision to stop sourcing Cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Amnesty International reported in 2016 that more than half of the world's Cobalt comes from the Congo, where "children as young as seven … scavenge for rocks containing cobalt in the discarded by-products of industrial mines".
Mark Dummett, business and human rights researcher at Amnesty International, said at the time that "Electric cars may not be as 'clean' as you would think".
"Customers need to be aware that their green cars could be linked to the misery of child labourers in the Democratic Republic of Congo," he said.
"Amnesty International's research shows that there is a significant risk of cobalt mined by children ending up in the batteries of electric cars.
"These vehicles are presented as the ethical choice for environmentally and socially conscious drivers, so the companies that manufacture them must come clean and prove they have acted diligently in getting their supplies."
German's Automobile Produktion reports that BMW's decided to take a stand against labour practices in the troubled African nation.
Reuters says BMW will deal directly with Australian mines to source material vital for the future of electric cars.
Cobalt was historically produced as a by-product of copper and nickel mining but increased battery demand driven in part by electric cars has made it a desirable metal in its own right.
Car makers are moving to secure long-term supply deals for material such as cobalt and lithium as manufacturing shifts from a focus on combustion engines to a battery-powered future.
Ethically and environmentally sustainable sourced material is in high demand.
The London Metal Exchange, a key source for trading cobalt and other materials, moved to improve transparency surrounding sustainability and corruption this week.
Matthew Chamberlain, LME chief executive, said companies such as BMW "rightly demand action on responsible sourcing".