A legendary technology firm IBM (International Business Machines Corporation) has declared two separate projects. One of them is focused on tracking supply chains for the cobalt mining industry in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). For this, IBM will deploy its own Blockchain Platform, and the Linux backed Hyperledger Fabric. IBM will trace how materials in the supply chain are responsibly produced, traded and processed. The other project will be overseeing the shipping of metals from a mine in Mexico.
The demand for cobalt has gradually increased because of electric cars and consumer devices. Cobalt has been used in lithium-ion batteries to run electronic devices like laptops and mobile devices. Emerged demand for Cobalt has hinted to the unethical activities in the production of the mineral. One such serious concern is child labour. Notably, Most of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Apart from IBM and Ford, the project also involves giant firms like Chinese cobalt mining company Huayou Cobalt, South Korean cathode maker LG Chem and also the tech company RCS Global. Further elaborating the project, next month, a 1.5 ton batch of cobalt will move from the mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo to China and will get refined there. Then, it will reach a battery plant in Korea and eventually in the U.S. at the Ford plant for an electric car. This will take almost five months, the process will be recorded on the blockchain, according to the IBM.
On the project, the general manager at IBM’s Global Industrial Products Industry Manish Chawla said in a press release, “With the growing demand for cobalt, this group has come together with clear objectives to illustrate how blockchain can be used for greater assurance around social responsibility in the mining supply chain.” He added, “The initial work by these organizations will be used as a precedent for the rest of the industry to be further extended to help ensure transparency around the minerals going into our consumer goods.”
Talking about Congo, the country where the Cobalt is being mined, is considered a very unstable place with insurgencies and violence. The project led by mentioned companies is expected to cope up with problems related to Cobalt mining in the country, especially child labour. Moreover, according to Lisa Drake, Ford’s vice president of global purchasing and powertrain operations, “We remain committed to transparency across our global supply chain.” She added, “our intent is to use state-of-the-art technology to ensure materials produced for our vehicles will help meet our commitment to protecting human rights and the environment.”