US automaker Ford recently announced plans to collaborate with tech giant IBM, South Korean cathode supplier LG Chem and China's Huayou Cobalt Co. in a blockchain project to monitor the supply of cobalt from DR Congo, according to SDF-KH.
A report from Reuters claimed that DR Congo, a volatile nation racked by civil war and political tension, comprises large reserves of cobalt which are required in huge quantities for manufacturing EVs and electronic devices. Often, children are made to work in cobalt mines which are also used to fuel conflict and these issues have prompted the formation of the blockchain platform.
Reliable sources claimed that Ford planned to employ IBM's blockchain platform to trace extracted cobalt from the Huayou Cobalt's industrial mine in DR Congo, which will later be used in a cathode and battery plant of LG Chem in South Korea, before being exported to a Ford plant in the US.
Lisa Drake, VP of global purchasing and powertrain operations at Ford, stated that the company would remain committed to transparency across its global supply chain. Drake said that Ford intended to use advanced technology to make sure that the materials developed for its vehicles meet their commitment to protecting human rights and the environment.
Commenting on the move, IBM said that it was exploring the potential of chemical analysis using AI to locate cobalt reserves, as well as to make sure that "clean cobalt" was not smelted with minerals sourced inaccurately.
Chen Hongliang, CEO of Huayou Cobalt, said that the pilot was central to its proactive approach to delivering ethical cobalt. He said that the company was aiming to have strong, reliable information channels to prove and validate its actions to its customers.
Hongliang added that the plan would eventually open up the platform to other car makers and supply chain participants.