Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn has become the first American automaker to join the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance, a Washington state-based organization that works to ensure human rights and environmentally responsible practices within the global mining industry.
Ford says its membership is another step toward the company’s human rights aspiration to responsibly source all raw materials used within vehicles globally, which has been in place for more than 20 years.
The company has also nearly doubled its investment to developing electric vehicles to $22 billion. The work will increase the company’s reliance on mined material, particularly related to the production of electric vehicle batteries.
Historically, mining activities have contributed to negative environmental and social effects, including the use of child labor, acid runoff into food and water sources, and noise and air pollution. Many materials are mined in areas of the world designated as conflict affected and high-risk, where poor governance can lead to conflict and exploitation.
The initiative works to advance responsible mining practices, providing third-party verification and certification against environmental and social criteria for all mined materials. The global standard was developed over 10 years in consultation with more than 100 stakeholder groups including mining companies, affected communities, nongovernmental organization, labor groups, and purchasing companies using mined materials.
The standard covers all mined materials except for energy fuels and is applicable to all sizes of industrial mines in all parts of the world.
“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,” says Sue Slaughter, purchasing director for supply chain sustainability for Ford. “Joining IRMA helps us and other companies consistently achieve that goal by forwarding best practices to address environmental, social, and governance issues.”
The company’s work with the initiative will support collaborative work with cross-industry brands, allowing Ford to communicate to mining companies consistent, clear expectations of practices.
“We welcome Ford’s membership and commend their leadership as the first American automaker to join IRMA,” says Aimee Boulanger, executive director of the initiative. “We look forward to working with Ford as it joins a growing number of companies leveraging their purchasing to protect communities and the environment on which they depend where mining happens.”
The initiative works to respect the human rights and aspirations of affected communities; provide safe, healthy, and supportive workplaces; and minimize harm to the environment.