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ERG to pilot blockchain-based solution to trace cobalt in DRC

Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) will pilot a blockchain-based solution to trace cobalt originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is developed on the IBM Blockchain Platform.

Initially, the solution will be deployed at the group’s Metalkol RTR operation in the country, which will aid the company in tracing the movement of cobalt across the supply chain.

The demand for metals such as cobalt, copper, lithium is expected to grow due to increasing demand from the global battery sector. However, issues such as use of child labour in the extraction of the minerals and pollution produced by mining operations pose a threat to local regions. The latter issue is often compounded by the present insufficiency in viable reuse and recycling mechanisms.

The blockchain-based solution is expected to ensure the metals are traceable.

This solution supports ERG’s Clean Cobalt Framework at Metalkol RTR, a reprocessing plant for historic copper and cobalt tailings from earlier mining operations.

The plant, which is nearing operation, will supply 24,000t of cobalt a year to the global market, once it reaches full capacity. The volumes supplied from the plant to the market will be enough to power more than 3 million electric vehicles per year.

IBM Global Business Services executive partner Niels de Jongh said: “ERG’s initiative to implement a blockchain solution to bring together stakeholders across the cobalt supply chain can help transform entire business processes in the mining industry and help bring new levels of trust. Leveraging IBM’s digital capabilities enables parties to develop the solution through an interactive approach with clear business focus.”

“ERG’s initiative can help transform entire business processes in the mining industry.”

Eurasian Resources Group CEO and Global Battery Alliance co-chair Benedikt Sobotka said: “We are delighted to announce this on the eve of discussions on the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the Annual Meeting in Davos. Cobalt is one of the key enablers of the Revolution and a material of the future, so it is imperative that it can be sourced in a sustainable way.

“This blockchain-based solution will aim to enable manufacturers to confirm that the cobalt was sourced at Metalkol RTR by aggregating the necessary data and information on the raw material.”

By using IBM’s blockchain platform and expertise, the platform can track the provenance of cobalt and its journey throughout the supply chain, right from extraction to production, a process which is currently complex and costly. However, by using blockchain, it is possible to track origin of cobalt across the supply chain, including once it is being smeltered and blended and becomes possible to efficiently share information, track and provide transparency to the entire process at reduced costs.

Sobotka added: “As a founding member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance, ERG aims to create new standards in the industry. We are therefore pleased to be piloting this innovative blockchain-based solution on the IBM platform. This way we can guarantee with certainty that the material that customers buy is not tainted with artisanally produced material.”

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