Volkswagen noted in a statement that the pilot initiative has been established to develop health and safety conditions in the African country, which hosts 70% of the world's cobalt resources.
The initiative promotes better mine site management and safety and environmental training for miners, initially focusing on 12 artisanal cobalt mining cooperatives in and around Kolwezi in the south.
Cobalt for Development, which is supported by German aid agency GIZ, and financed by companies include BASF, BMW Group and Google, is also working to strengthen legal compliance and social well-being in the DRC.
"For our e-mobility strategy, sustainable and responsible sourcing of raw materials is of the utmost importance," said Ullrich Gereke, head of procurement strategy at the Volkswagen Group.
"Currently, Volkswagen does not accept cobalt from artisanal mines.[But] Cobalt plays a vital role for us, despite a decreasing amount of the raw material in newer generations of batteries for electric vehicles."
Gereke said the company wants to establish artisanal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a strictly sustainable cobalt source, because the existence of many local communities depends on the sector.
Automaker Volkswagen also said in September that it plans to work with RCS Global, an agency specialising in supply chain analysis, on ensuring battery metals meet social and environmental standards.
Volkswagen said its work with RCS will focus on auditing suppliers for conformance with human rights, safe working conditions and environmental protection.