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IBM-led blockchain project for ethically sourced minerals eyes spring 2020 for launch

Wed, 06 Nov 2019, 11:26 am UTC

The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN) has successfully completed a pilot project and is now targeting to go live in spring 2020.

Built on the IBM Blockchain Platform, assured by RCS Global Group and powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, the RSBN blockchain platform aims to provide traceability and verification of responsible sourcing practices from mine to market.

Members include Ford, Volkswagen Group, LG Chem, Huayou Cobalt, and others. IBM first announced the initiative in January this year. Volkswagen joined in April, while Volvo Cars is the newest member to join the consortium.

“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,” Dr. Nicholas Garrett, CEO of RCS Global Group, said.

“The early addition of Volkswagen Group and now Volvo Cars to this collaboration confirms that blockchain technology coupled with responsible sourcing assurance can help address critical sustainability issues impacting the entire industry.”

During the pilot phase, 1.5 tons of Congolese cobalt was sent by the participating companies across three different continents over five months of refinement, CoinDesk reported.

RCS Global Group confirmed that the pilot cobalt met Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) sourcing standards right from the start of its journey in a mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), along its refinement in South Korea and ultimately to its destination, a Ford Motor Company plant in the United States. The batteries were developed by LG Chem.

The RSBN platform recorded the entire process, thereby delivering the corresponding data verifying the responsible sourcing of cobalt throughout the supply chain.

In a press release dated Nov. 06, Volvo Cars said that it will be the first carmaker to implement global traceability of cobalt used in its batteries by applying blockchain technology. It will fully apply the RSBN solution in its LG Chem supply chain from spring 2020, Green Car Congress reported.

“We have always been committed to an ethical supply chain for our raw materials,” said Martina Buchhauser, head of procurement at Volvo Cars. “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.”

Volvo also plans to implement the solution in other key minerals found in its batteries, including nickel and lithium going forward.

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