IBM’s Blockchain Solution to Be Piloted at Congo Cobalt Reprocessing Plant

IBM’s blockchain platform, a solution that aims to determine the provenance of cobalt throughout the supply chain, will be piloted by Eurasian Resources Group (ERG); the solution will initially be applied at ERG’s Metalkol RTR operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. IBM Blockchain will aim to enable manufacturers to confirm that the cobalt was responsibly sourced at Metalkol RTR by aggregating the necessary data and information on the raw material, ERG says.

Metalkol, a reprocessing plant for historic copper and cobalt tailings from previous mining operations, is nearing completion. At full capacity, the facility will supply volumes sufficient to power more than 3 million electric vehicles per year.

The IBM solution can be applied to other battery metals, helping to ensure a responsible supply chain for lithium-ion batteries – a mission of the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance, ERG points out.

While cobalt and other metals such as copper, nickel and lithium drive the global battery sector, their extraction may come at high cost for the surrounding ecosystem, including pollution and the use of child labor. The situation is compounded by the current dearth of viable reuse and recycling systems.

IBM’s blockchain platform will help ensure that the material’s supply chain is traceable, from extraction to production. Currently, the process of tracing its provenance is complex and costly. Using blockchain will reduce costs through efficient information sharing, tracking and transparency according to the highest standards, ERG says. 

ERG, a mining company and natural resources provider, announced a new Clean Cobalt Framework in December as part of its commitment to ensure sustainable cobalt production. The framework, launching at Metalkol, will help drive excellence in responsible production of cobalt. ERG says it will report on its progress annually, and will seek third-party validation.

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