operates a Clean Cobalt Framework at its Metalkol RTR reprocessing plant in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As part of this initiative, ERG recently announced the implementation of a pilot scheme for a new blockchain solution to improve traceability for cobalt and potentially other battery metals, working towards ensuring a responsible and sustainable supply chain. The new solution leverages the blockchain capability and expertise of the IBM Blockchain Platform.
As part of the global battery supply chain, cobalt is one of the drivers of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As such, ensuring a sustainable supply is vital for the creation of lithium-ion batteries. This is one of the Global Battery Alliance’s missions. Discussions about the Fourth Industrial Revolution took place the day after ERG’s blockchain announcement at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos.
The Global Battery Alliance is an initiative of the World Economic Forum, which ERG’s CEO co-chairs. As part of this Alliance, ERG works to create new standards within the global battery industry. The pilot of the innovative new blockchain solution is designed to ensure that customers of ERG can be guaranteed with certainty that the provenance of their cobalt is responsible and sustainable.
The extraction of metals such as cobalt, copper, lithium, and nickel is vital for worldwide battery production. The challenges facing the industry in terms of protecting the surrounding ecosystem revolve around working to eliminate child labor practices in artisanal mines and reducing the levels of pollution caused by mining operations. The current dearth of systems for viable recycling and reuse within the cobalt industry compounds the problem of pollution. Present systems to improve traceability and accountability throughout the supply chain are complicated and expensive.
The innovative use of blockchain technology by ERG, leveraging the expertise and digital capability of the IBM platform, has the potential to transform business practices across the global mining industry. The blockchain platform will reduce the associated costs of tracking and sharing information, bringing with it the highest standards of efficiency and transparency. The provenance of the cobalt will be able to be traced throughout the entire supply chain, beginning with extraction and continuing through production - even following smelting and blending. Manufacturers will be able to use the blockchain platform to determine the origin of cobalt at all stages of processing and production. Mr Sobotka, CEO of ERG, stated that the Group was pleased to be able to introduce this innovative technology to reassure customers that materials being purchased are not tainted by any of the unsustainable or irresponsible practices of the artisanal sector.