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London Metal Exchange won’t trade metal mined by children

Simon English
Clampdown: the exchange said companies could be stripped of approved status: Shaun Curry/AFP/Getty Images

Metal mined by children won’t be traded in London, the main metals market has said.

The London Metal Exchange says it could strip companies of approved status if they fall short of new industry standards.

The LME will issue principles for “responsible sourcing” in the next few months. Metal suppliers will have to demonstrate that they meet certain standards following an outcry about cobalt mined by children in Africa.

A source told Reuters: “The LME has to be policeman. It can do that by making sure industry standards on child labour and conflict minerals are being met, that there is auditing and certification.”

The spotlight has also fallen in recent years on tin, another metal traded on the LME that is used in electronics and can come from conflict zones in Africa.

There is no single industry-wide standard for responsible mineral supply chains, but the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has a five-step framework.

The LME sent a survey to producers in November asking about the sourcing, auditing and certification of metal that can be delivered against LME contracts. Responses were due late last year.

Carmakers such as Volkswagen have asked suppliers to ensure cobalt does not come from child labour.