Automobile giant, Ford, tech giant IBM, battery maker from South Korea, LG Chem and others have joined hands to build a blockchain project which basically aims at bringing transparency in batteries which are used in electric vehicles and smartphones and mineral supply chain which runs across the entire globe.
This blockchain initiative will be tracking the cobalt which is mined in the region of Democratic Republic Congo. Cobalt is utilized in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries. With the increasing demand of electric vehicles and mobile devices the price and demand of lithium-ion batteries has skyrocketed. It has been calculated that the region of Democratic Republic Congo produces almost two-third of the cobalt across the entire world. The goal involving the blockchain technology into the process is to support human rights and environmental protection. The customers and investors have constantly wanted the firms to prove it to them that the raw materials which they are using are obtained without harming human rights and endangering the environment.
According to IBM,
“In the DRC’s industrial mining sector, environmental and social risks are a reality. The small-scale mining operations in cobalt, copper and 3TG that dot the vast country and sustain the livelihoods of approximately two million people, are often beset with profound challenges including human rights violations, as well as conflict-financing (in the case of 3TG in isolated parts of the country).”
It is expected that the pilot project will be completed in July this year. In the process of the pilot project the blockchain technology will be used to design an audit trail which will be starting at the Huayou Cobalt industrial mine in Democratic Republic Congo. The cobalt which will be produced in the Huayou mine will be put in secure bags and will be recorded by the blockchain technology. The cobalt will also be traced from the LG Chem’s battery plant which is in South Korea to the Ford Motors’ plant which is in the United States of America.
After the success of the pilot project, the blockchain tracking initiative will be brought to other minerals also. According to IBM,
“Once we have completed the pilot with cobalt, our aim is to then create an open, industry-wide blockchain platform to validate the full range of raw materials used in consumer products and expand the network so that a wider range of participants can join to enable greater responsibility in commodities sourcing.”
The pilot project is not the first blockchain initiative which has been used to track minerals in Africa so as to ensure that the minerals are sourced responsibly without causing any harm. Diamond giant, De Beers has been using ‘Tracr’, which is a blockchain tracking solution which is has been used to ensure that ‘blood diamonds’ are not allowed to enter their supply chain.