Major metals and mining companies CMOC, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) and Swiss natural resource giant Glencore are collaborating with battery material supplier Umicore to pilot a blockchain solution for end-to-end traceability of cobalt used in lithium-ion electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

The Re|Source solution will trace responsibly produced cobalt from the mine to the electric car. The companies noted that a global EV pioneer and one of the world’s leading battery makers are also part of the pilot.

Tested in real operating conditions, from upstream cobalt production facilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to downstream electric vehicle production sites, the pilot will run until the end of 2021, with the roll-out of the final solution expected in 2022.

The Re|Source solution is expected to bring improvements to the entire cobalt supply chain, starting with responsible sourcing compliance.

Assured through blockchain technology, the solution is a unique industry partnership between EV supply chain majors aiming to accelerate sustainable practices for every unit of cobalt mined, processed and used in end products. The use of blockchain technology offers the ability for traceability in the supply chain.

Founded by CMOC, ERG and Glencore and launched in 2019, Re|Source was later joined by Umicore, as well as a battery company and an EV producer. It is designed with the direct input of responsible sourcing and supply chain experts from all participating companies to proactively addressing the growing need for cobalt value chain visibility.

The end-to-end collaboration between major cobalt industry players working in the DRC deploys various technologies, including blockchain and Zero-Knowledge Proofs, to link digital flows with physical material flows on the ground. The ground-breaking solution is supported by boutique technology studio Kryha, which is experienced in carbon footprint and metals traceability and known for projects with the World Economic Forum.

To meet the consortium’s mission to ensure that all cobalt used in end products will be sustainably sourced, Re|Source integrates a comprehensive set of industrial sustainable mining and sourcing standards and frameworks, such as ICMM, RMI, IRMA, CIRAF, Copper Mark and others.

The Re|Source solution also explores how aspects of the related GHG emissions along the value chain can be traced and disclosed.

Swedish luxury carmaker Volvo Cars became the first carmaker to implement blockchain-powered cobalt traceability in November 2019. Later in July 2020, it also invested in British blockchain start-up Circulor to help track battery pack raw materials, beyond cobalt, by using blockchain technology and artificial intelligence.

Earlier in February 2020, luxury car maker Mercedes-Benz also teamed up with Circulor to conduct a pilot project for transparency on CO2 emissions in the cobalt supply chain.

In November 2019, U.S.-based Blockchain startup HashCash Consultants teamed up with a consortium of global automobile manufacturers, mining companies and battery manufacturers to track ethical sourcing of battery minerals such as cobalt, tungsten, and lithium using Blockchain technology.

German car maker Volkswagen Group and Ford Motor Co. joined an industry consortium In April 2019 to use blockchain technology for the responsible sourcing of strategic minerals which are used in the production of vehicles.

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