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When the blockchain is put at the service of responsible mineral supply management

Ford Motor Company, Huayou Cobalt, IBM, LG Chem, and RCS Global will test blockchain technology to ensure that the minerals and by-products used in their manufacturing processes do not contribute to the enrichment of armed groups in conflict zones.

A blockchain is a computer technology for storing and distributing transparent, secure and tamperproof information.

This association of companies, representatives of the mineral supply chain (from the mine to the end-user), actors in responsible procurement or IT technologies will allow the creation of a platform open to industrialists in order to trace the path of minerals used in different consumer products.

The first pilot project will focus on cobalt traceability. This ore, which is widely used in particular for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, should see its demand increase eightfold by 2026, hence it’s choice for this first test. Currently being deployed, the project aims to demonstrate that it is possible to have complete monitoring of supply chain operations to ensure that extraction and processing are done in a responsible manner. The information provided at each step will be used to support the audits. Participants providing information in the blockchain will be required to meet the responsible procurement standards developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Unlike the current audit system, this new method will allow network members to access data in real-time. In the long term, it is likely that this new method of monitoring the supply chain will extend to other minerals mined in conflict areas, such as gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten, also known as “conflict minerals”.

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