Posted 7 months ago | by Ben Armstrong
Blockchain Helps Push Social Responsibility on Private Sector – Cobalt Supplies in Focus
The international car manufacturer, Volvo, is deploying blockchain technology to track the source of cobalt which is used for producing batteries in their automobiles. In an attempt to fight against child labor and harmful working condition issues – blockchain could make a big impact.
Cobalt is an indispensable ingredient to make lithium-ion batteries. Currently, the largest source of cobalt is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which supplied over 60% of total world’s in 2019.
The DRC is a Supply Chain Nightmare for Cobalt
Although the mining industry has been revolutionized with the support of machines and equipment, there is still a large amount of metal that is manually dug out from the ground by human workers.
Afterwards, it is sold out to the market through many agencies, making it difficult to trace back to its original sources.
As numerous calls and campaigns have rang out against carbon dioxide emissions, electric cars are becoming a new industry for carmakers. As a result, the demand for batteries and cobalt is increasing, leading automakers to another problematic situation.
Consumer Accountability – Industry Action
Industry has yet to find a way to ensure the ethic of their suppliers, so as to stay away of legal and social risks that may arise.
In that context, Volvo’s is fully aware of its responsibility for enhancing the traceability of their input raw materials and ensuring their suppliers are strictly complying with regulations and business ethics.
Blockchain can Probably Help
Volvo is backing blockchain technology for increasing transparency in data that can be used to verify supply information for cobalt, such as its original location of extraction, labor rights and working environment.
Thanks to that, they can prevent working with unknown or ambiguous commodities and detect whether the production is linked with any violations against the law and human rights.
Making the System Work for Good Actors
Volvo and their battery suppliers, CATL from China and LG Chem from Korea, have entered official contracts which specify more effort in tracing cobalt origin. CATL will use the blockchain technology provided by Circulor and Oracle to monitor over their supply chain.
At the same time, Volvo is tying up with RCS Global and IBM to supervise the LG Chem’s cobalt importing process.
Volvo is not the only player in the industry to conduct blockchain technology in tracing material sources. Another carmaker, BMW AG also announced their plan to purchase directly from Australia and Morocco’s cobalt mines to maintain a stabilized and reliable supply over the next decade.
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