IBM, LG Chem, Ford Motors Form Partnership To Track Cobalt Mining In Congo Using Blockchain.

February 24, 2019

IBM, LG Chem, Ford Motors and others have partnered to use blockchain technology to prevent illegally mined cobalt from entering the market. Cobalt is used in the production of batteries for electric cars and smartphones.

Technology Giant IBM, South Korean battery maker LG Chem, US automaker Ford Motors and several others have come together to form a blockchain-based partnership. This partnership aims to improve transparency in the supply chain of natural minerals used in producing batteries for smartphones and electric vehicles.

The project will focus mainly on cobalt mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cobalt is a major resource used in the production of lithium-ion batteries. The surge in battery-powered cars and smartphones has led to an increase in demand for the element, causing a rapid increase in its price.

An estimated two-thirds of global cobalt supplies originate in DR Congo

Partnership To Support Environmental Sustainability And Human Rights Protection

The main aim of the partnership is to encourage environmentally safe activities as well as to protect human rights. Several customers and investors are interested in knowing whether the natural resources they are procuring violated any human rights or impacted the environment during mining.

According to IBM, these health and environmental standards are rarely met in DR Congo. The pilot phase of this partnership will be completed by mid-2019. The project entails creating an audit trail starting at Huayou Cobalt industrial mine. The mined cobalt will be packed in secure bags and then recorded on the blockchain. The cobalt can then be easily traced from LG Chem’s plant in South Korea or Ford Motors’ Plant in the US.

OECD STANDARDS

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an intergovernmental economic organisation comprising 36 member countries, has put together standards that will help monitor key participants in the sourcing process. The pilot project will not completely take over the auditing process, with human personnel continuing to play a role.

After the successful completion of the pilot project, this initiative will be used in the sourcing of other minerals.

This project is not the first of its kind in Africa. UK diamond corporation De Beers initiated Tracr, a blockchain-based tracking solution, to monitor its diamond supply.

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