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Volvo to trace cobalt used in electric car batteries on blockchain

Written by Thu 7 Nov 2019

Cobalt to be tracked from source to production plants

European car giant Volvo has announced it will start using blockchain-tracked cobalt in electric car batteries, having reached an agreement with Chinese and South Korean suppliers.

China-based CATL and South Korea-based LG Chem, also members of the blockchain network, will provide battery equipment for new Volvo and Polestar models for the next decade.

By deploying blockchain to track cobalt used in batteries, Volvo wants to prove to customers that the material is extracted in conflict-free zones and not in areas known to exploit child labour.

In addition to origin, the blockchain network will track cobalt size, weight, chain of custody and whether the producers in the supply chain respect Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines.

“With blockchain technology we can take the next step towards ensuring full traceability of our supply chain and minimising any related risks, in close collaboration with our suppliers,” said Martina Buchhauser, head of procurement, Volvo Cars.

The system in question is The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN), a blockchain network committed to strengthening human rights and environmental protection in mineral supply chains, which yesterday announced that its digital supply chain for cobalt had moved past pilot phase and will go fully live in Spring 2020.

Volvo joins Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen Group and Huayou Cobalt in participating on the network, which is built on IBM’s blockchain platform and vetted by RCS Global, an ethical sourcing organisation.

In initial tests, RSBN traced cobalt produced at Huayou’s industrial mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through the supply chain to LG Chem’s cathode and battery plant in South Korea, and to its final destination, a Ford plant in the United States.

We are setting in motion a process of mainstreaming responsible sourcing practices across major industries,” said Dr. Nicholas Garrett, CEO of RCS Global Group.

“We’ve reached significant new milestones as we’ve moved beyond testing, proving the merits of this coupled technology and assurance model can extend to a wide range of participants across every tier of the supply chain and to other minerals. The early addition of Volkswagen Group and now Volvo Cars to this collaboration confirms that blockchain technology together with responsible sourcing assurance can help address critical sustainability issues impacting the entire industry,” he added.

Written by Thu 7 Nov 2019

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