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By A.J. Roan
Metal Tech News 

Glencore rolls out cobalt blockchain plan

Massive collaboration commences cobalt traceability pilot Metal Tech News – May 26, 2021

 

Last updated 6/2/2021 at 3:24pm

blockchain cobalt Glencore CMOC ERG Umicore end-to-end traceability Re|Source

Fairphone/Flickr

Cobalt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is often found alongside copper minerals such as malachite.

Glencore plc has teamed up with fellow miners China Molybdenum Co. Ltd. and Eurasian Resources Group, and battery material supplier Umicore to pilot a blockchain solution for end-to-end cobalt traceability.

Earlier this year, Glencore joined the Global Battery Alliance, a World Economic Forum initiative to help establish and collaborate on a sustainable battery value chain.

As of 20 May, a new pilot named Re|Source, headed by major metals and mining companies as well as electric vehicle pioneers and leading battery makers, have joined hands to test in real operating conditions, upstream cobalt production facilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Ensuring ethical and reliable supply of cobalt to meet the skyrocketing demand driven largely by the emerging EV sector has quickly become a major concern for manufacturers, consumers and human rights groups.

This is because more than 60% of cobalt comes from the DRC, where concerns over child labor and other human rights violations at artisanal mines have harmed production and tarnished the reputation of industrial cobalt mining companies.

Glencore, which produces much of its cobalt in the DRC, is among the organizations seeking ethical and humane solutions to this problem.

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.

Deploying various technologies, including blockchain and zero-knowledge proofs, to link digital flows with physical material flows on the ground, this ground-breaking solution is further backed by experienced players in carbon footprint and metals traceability projects with the WEF.

"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 Glencore plc CEO Ivan Glasberg. "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."

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

"Piloting the Re|Source solution is a vital milestone that brings us one step closer to unveiling the significant potential of batteries, while strengthening transparency and the sustainability of battery materials across the value chain – also a mission of the Global Battery Alliance, of which ERG is a founding member," said Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of ERG and co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance. "As part of our continued efforts to ensure cobalt is responsibly sourced and processed, a key focus for ERG has been collaborating with leading public and private organizations to respond to the growing battery market powering the energy transition and the low carbon economy, which is the biggest purchase order in history."

With a massive collective effort to shift the paradigm of battery material transparency and sustainably sourced materials the pilot will run until the end of 2021, with the roll-out of a final solution expected next year.

 

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