Since the drive towards electric cars had surged and countries world around pledging to concentrate on going full electric to reduce carbon footprints, a particular demand has increased for a rare element which happens to be very rare. The need for a mineral used in the lithium-ion battery, Cobalt, has increased many folds over the recent years, reports suggest. And this high demand has led to many concerns regarding their unethical production methods. As most of this mineral is concentrated in the African country of Democratic Republic of Congo which is marred by political instability, the crime of child labor is reported to be very rampant in their mines. However, Blockchain technology holds the solution to this grave problem.
Lithium-ion batteries which power everyday devices like laptops, smartphones, and majorly in electric cars require cobalt. 60% of the world’s cobalt supply comes from The Congo where insurgencies and violence are an everyday affair. As a result, issues regarding child labor and exploitation among of the mining workers have increased.
In order to tackle this American multinational technology company, IBM has confirmed that they are planning to use their blockchain platform to monitor and trace supply of cobalt in Congo in a press report. They have joined hands with motor company Ford, Huayou Cobalt, LG Chem, and RCS Global to use blockchain technology to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals.
“We remain committed to transparency across our global supply chain, said Lisa Drake, vice president of global purchasing and powertrain operations for Ford Motor Company. By collaborating with other leading industries in this network, we intend 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” said Lisa Drake, Vice President of global purchasing and powertrain operations for Ford.
The project is to be built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric. This will allow the interested parties in the supply chain easy access, including original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) across the automotive, electronics, aerospace and defense industries and their supply chain partners such as mining companies and battery manufacturers.
“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 and environmental sustainability in the mining supply chain, said Manish Chawla, general manager of the global industrial products industry for IBM. 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 materials going into our consumer goods” commented Manish Chawla, GM, Global Industrial Products Industry, IBM.