Blockchain pilot tracks cobalt from mine to EV

Blockchain pilot tracks cobalt from mine to EV

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

A blockchain pilot with mining companies CMOC, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) and Glencore along with battery material supplier Umicore aims to trace cobalt from the mine to the electric vehicle.

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 sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to downstream electric vehicle production sites, the Re|Source pilot will run until the end of 2021, with the roll-out of the final solution expected in 2022.

Using distributed ledger blockchain technology, the project aims to accelerate sustainable practices for every unit of cobalt mined, processed and used in end products. Founded by CMOC, ERG and Glencore and launched in 2019, Re|Source was later joined by Umicore, as well as a battery and EV company. It is designed with the direct input of responsible sourcing, and supply chain experts from all participating companies, proactively addressing the growing need for cobalt value chain visibility.

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The 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 consortiums’ mission of ensuring 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[1], Copper Mark and others. The solution is therefore also exploring how aspects of the related GHG emissions along the value chain can be traced and disclosed.   

In addition to EV supply chain majors, Re|Source is developed with the involvement of a broad group of industry advisors and stakeholders. It reflects their expectations about all aspects of sustainably sourced materials and is designed to be used by wide-ranging industry players.

Re|Source also has a direct link with the Battery Passport project of the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), through ERG, Umicore, Glencore and other Re|Source pilot partners, members of the GBA. The Battery Passport intends to make battery production more responsible and sustainable.

“For many years, Umicore has been a pioneer in promoting a sustainable value chain by only offering battery materials of a certified and ethical origin. Today, we share our expertise within this innovatory consortium and participate in the pilot to develop an industry-wide traceability technology, which is an important step towards a sustainable value chain for all batteries,” said said Marc Grynberg, CEO of Umicore.

“Blockchain technology offers us an unprecedented ability for traceability in the supply chain. Through this pilot, we are supporting the development of this tool for our customers who seek to understand and demonstrate the origin of the cobalt units in their products,” said Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore. “But traceability is not enough on its own, it must be part of a wider industry effort to bring improvements to the entire cobalt supply chain. This starts with responsible sourcing compliance, for example through RMI; the collective use of wider ESG standards such as CIRAF and ICMM; and supporting the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sector through multi-stakeholder initiatives like the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA).”

“Re|Source is a very exciting development in global battery industry,” said Sun Ruiwen, CEO of CMOC. “As a global leading producer and trader of cobalt, CMOC and its trading affiliate IXM are committed to the responsible mining, processing and use of cobalt. We believe this initiative will help increase the transparency throughout the value chain. In the backdrop of the global energy transition and China pledging carbon neutrality by 2060, the battery industry is growing and expanding rapidly. A transparent and responsible supply chain, bringing together all stakeholders with this joint effort, will give end users greater confidence in cobalt as a raw material.” 

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