GM Joins Initiative to Certify Sustainability in EV Supply Chain

General Motors Co. in Detroit has joined the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), adding another element that supports the sustainability and human rights of the electric vehicle supply chain.
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Wind turbines in the background of a former open pit mine site.
General Motors Co. has joined the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA) to support the sustainability and human rights of the electric vehicle supply chain. // Stock Photo

General Motors Co. in Detroit has joined the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA), adding another element that supports the sustainability and human rights of the electric vehicle supply chain.

IRMA advances responsible mining practice through a comprehensive set of standards covering the four principles of Business Integrity, Planning for Positive Legacies, Social Responsibility, and Environmental Responsibility.

As automotive battery demand expands globally, access to battery materials is of increasing importance. Given the role of EVs in reducing the carbon footprint of the transportation sector, GM says it’s committed to the responsible sourcing of the mined materials needed for EV production.

“GM recognizes the important role we play within our supply chain, and we’re committed to making sure it reflects our dedication to social and environmental priorities,” says Shilpan Amin, vice president of global purchasing and supply chain at GM.

“Joining IRMA will help us conduct business with suppliers and partners whose standards and actions align with our approach to integrity, responsible sourcing and supply chain management. As we shift to an all-electric future, we look forward to helping advance the establishment of a responsible mining industry alongside other IRMA members.”

GM already requires suppliers to meet its standards and adhere to company values throughout the supply chain. The IRMA certification builds on this requirement as it encourages comprehensive, third-party assessments of mining practices while advancing a range of issues including health and safety, waste management, and compliance with local and international laws.

GM’s work with the initiative also will foster collaboration with other companies to share best practices and drive transformation of the mining industry toward more responsible operations.

“With GM’s engagement in IRMA membership, a strong signal is being sent that the company’s commitment to safety, inclusivity, and climate response reaches all the way up their supply chains to the lands and communities where raw materials are sourced,” says Aimee Boulanger, executive director of IRMA. “This powerful message has the opportunity to forward value for greater environmental and social responsibility around the world. We are thrilled to work together for a shared purpose.”

Membership in the initiative is the latest development in GM’s commitment to promote the sustainability of an all-electric future. In recent months, GM has announced:

  • The company will reduce the use of cobalt, one of the mined materials essential to battery manufacturing. GM’s Ultium battery system requires 70 percent less cobalt.
  • A commercial collaboration with Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR), allowing GM to extract local, low-cost lithium using a closed-loop, direct extraction process with no production tailing and lower carbon dioxide emissions when compared with traditional processes.
  • A collaboration between Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to recycle up to 100 percent of the material scrap from battery cell manufacturing. The new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells to recycle battery materials, including cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese, and aluminum. Ninety-five percent of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries.
  • A strategic supplier agreement with Wolfspeed Inc. related to silicon carbide power device solutions that will enable GM to install more efficient EV propulsion that can result in longer EV range while lowering weight and conserving space.
  • An MOU with GE Renewable Energy to evaluate opportunities to improve supplies of heavy and light rare earth materials and magnets, copper and electrical steel used for manufacturing of electric vehicles and renewable energy equipment. Together, the companies will seek policies that are supportive of the establishment of secure, North American and European based supply chains for rare earth, copper and electrical steel materials needed to support EV and renewable power generation growth.

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