Understanding the full potential of the Blockchain initiative will typically become clearer when it is applied to real-life global problems. Considering the increasing demand for Cobalt, there has been one major concern regarding the unethical production of Cobalt. A majority of the Cobalt mined in the world is derived from the DRC (Democratic Republic in Congo).
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About 60% of the Cobalt supplied on a global scale is mined at the “copper belt” of the south-eastern regions of the DRC. According to London-based research company that is specialized in Cobalt, Darton Commodities Ltd., no less than 20% of the 60% mentioned above is mined by indigenes mainly children. The remaining 40% is produced in the industrial mines.
Understandably attempts have actually been made to effectively track the supply of cobalt around the globe to ensure the companies involved are not utilizing child-mined cobalt to make lithium-ion batteries. However, a number of challenges still remain in the picture. Many informal mine locations have to be closely monitored, and electronic data needs to be accurately transmitted from remote provinces.
Blockchain: Borderless Solution
To make sure of the responsible sourcing of Cobalt, Ford Motor Company decided to join forces with startups like Huayou Cobalt, RCS Global IBM, and LG Chem to use the Blockchain technology to successfully trace and validate the ethically sourced minerals.
The endeavor is powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric and is built on the IBM Blockchain Platform. It seeks to demonstrate how Cobalt can be produced, traded and processed responsibly. The goal here is to set up an open, industry network to successfully trace and validate minerals as well as other materials meant for the automobile and consumer electronics sectors.
From Mine To Market
Normally, miners, smelters and consumer brands in general have depended on third-party audits to setup compliance with the generally accepted industry standards stipulated. Coupled with assessments like these, the use of Blockchain technology here provides a collection of immutable data and validated participants will eventually be noticed by permissioned network participants quickly. Additionally, it has to be said that the Blockchain initiative can also be used as a means of aiding network participants in tackling their compliance requirements.
While the primary focus of this project is on LSMs (large-scale miners), one important objective is to increase transparency in ASMs (artisanal and small-scale mining). This will allow operators to sell raw materials on the global market. Doing so according to the internationally ratified requirements.
The network can also help activate ASM operators partner using due diligence data providers ultimately, joining a Blockchain-powered network of validated participants. The endeavor is also going to explore incentive uses or financial benefits of ASMs and the local communities that have been impacted by mining the mineral.
Despite the solutions proposed and in effect challenges still remain. One of the major challenges is accurately verifying where the minerals are coming from. For example, once a mineral is processed, and other Cobalt sources move, the supply chain must accurately verify proof that each of the mineral comes from specific locations. Another challenge is that organizations need to launch collaborations with local authorities and agencies to create a marque network, so that would remove unlawful practices like child labor. Members will be able to address these challenges mentioned.