A switch to the electric cars, from the traditional gas-powered vehicles, has increased the demand for cobalt, a mineral which is used in lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are used in a wide range of products such as mobiles, laptops, electric automobiles, etc.
As per a report given by Morgan Stanley, the demand for cobalt will be eight times by 2026 when compared to what it is today. But currently, the primary concern surrounding the cobalt is the unethical means adopted to produce the same. Majority of the world’s cobalt is produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Darton Commodities Ltd., a London-based research company, specializing in cobalt, states that a minimum of 20% of the cobalt in DRC is mined by children and the rest is produced by industrial mines.
Various measures have been taken to ensure that the companies are not using children to mine cobalt, though this still remains a big task as there are quite a number of unofficial mines which needs to be tracked, and accurate, electronic data needs to be transmitted from remote areas, in a
country surrounded by political instability.
To tackle this problem, the technology giant, IBM has confirmed that they will be using their blockchain platform to monitor and track down the supplies of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To ensure the responsible sourcing of industrially-mined cobalt, Ford Motor Company has joined forces with Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem and RCS Global to use blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals.
The process will work together with motor company Ford, South Korean cathode maker LG Chem and China’s Huayou Cobalt along with RCS Global, a multinational responsible sourcing company, to monitor and track the mining.
As per the statement of Manish Chawla, the general manager at IBM’s Global Industrial Products Industry, “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. 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.”
Ford’s vice president of global purchasing and power train operations, Lisa Drake, stated that “We remain committed to transparency across our global supply chain. By collaborating with other leading industries in this network; 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.”
The CEO of RCS Global group, Dr. Nicholas Garret, further added “As the validator of the network, we will bring our vast experience working on responsible sourcing at all stages of the supply chain at all times. Our collective effort allows participating companies to progress from human-led risk management to technology-led impact generation in a highly efficient and cost-effective manner. Augmenting crucial human expertise and experience, this is a demonstration of technology for good, empowering vulnerable communities and protecting the environment. We are proud to be a member of the network,”