Volkswagen Joins IBM-Led Initiative To Track Cobalt Supply Chains Using Blockchain

Blockchain, News | April 22, 2019 By:

German automaker Volkswagen is joining an IBM-led initiative that uses blockchain technology to increase efficiency, sustainability and transparency in global mineral supply chains.

The IBM-led blockchain initiative, which include Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt and LG Chem along with co-founding responsible sourcing specialists RCS Global Group, developed a platform for enabling the traceability and provenance of minerals. The platform, built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and powered by Hyperledger Fabric, is designed to provide easy access for interested parties of all sizes and roles in the supply chain.

Volkswagen said that it joined the initiative 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. It 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.

In a blog post, IBM said that approximately two-thirds of global cobalt production happens in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which also has a significant part of global production in copper, as well as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG or “conflict minerals”).

“Through this pilot of a simulated sourcing scenario, we will work to trace and validate ethically-sourced cobalt from mine to end-user on the blockchain,” IBMsaid. “Cobalt produced at the Huayou Cobalt’s industrial mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be traced through the supply chain as it travels from mine and smelter to LG Chem’s cathode plant and battery plant in South Korea, and finally into a Ford plant. Each actor will be validated using responsible sourcing standards developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to assess and confirm that each participant meets the obligations outlined by the international governing body. An audit trail will thus be created on the blockchain, linking to immutable records with full details of the production characteristics of the cobalt in question at each stage of the supply chain.”