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Volkswagen joins IBM-led blockchain initiative for provenance of cobalt

Fri, 19 Apr 2019, 09:34 am UTC

German automotive giant Volkswagen has announced that it has joined an IBM-led blockchain initiative that aims to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals.

Earlier this year, IBM collaborated with Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, LG Chem and RCS Global to develop an industry-wide blockchain platform for tracing and validating a range of minerals used in consumer products, with an initial focus on responsible sourcing of industrially-mined cobalt.

Cobalt is in high demand for its use in lithium-ion batteries, which power a wide range of products such as laptops, mobile devices and electric vehicles. In a blog post, IBM said that around two-third of global cobalt production happens in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where cobalt mining operations are “often beset with profound challenges including human rights violations.”

Volkswagen said that it is joining the collaboration to “gain greater insight into the provenance of cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and other types of minerals used elsewhere in the production of vehicles.”

The new platform for enabling the traceability and provenance of minerals will be built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and powered by Hyperledger Fabric. It is designed to provide easy access to various stakeholders throughout the supply chain – from mine to end-user.

The network participants will be able to contribute and access immutable data in a secure and permissioned way to trace and record the flow of minerals across the supply chain in near real-time, the release said.

“Volkswagen Group will contribute its vast business acumen to the initiative being one of the world’s leading automotive OEMs with suppliers and production facilities worldwide as well as first-hand knowledge of sustainability in supplier relations and mineral sourcing at a global scale,” Volkswagen said.

The group aims to further expand membership to focus on industries such as aerospace, consumer electronics and mining operations.

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