BMW Looks to the Blockchain to Prove Ethical Sourcing of Cobalt

Just about two-thirds of the world’s supply of cobalt originate from the Democratic Republic of Congo wherein about one-fifth of this cobalt supply come from what are known as “artisanal mines,” or in other words unregulated mining operations. Within these mines, it is not uncommon to find children who have been forced to forgo education, play and other important aspects of childhood to toil within these unregulated “artisanal” cobalt mines. However, with the use of the blockchain, some companies are looking to put a stop to this.

Cobalt is one of the most expensive materials when it comes to creating powerful and long-lasting batteries such as that used in electric automobiles. Since cobalt can end up coming from such sources as these mines, it puts companies in a strange position that, until now, there was no efficient way to ensure ethical sourcing for these types of minerals, a company just had to rely on the word of their supplier.

Circulor is a UK startup looking to put an end to this, and as a larger goal to lower the costs of creating electric vehicles. They plan to map out the already known clean sources of cobalt, such as that coming from Canada, the U.S. and certain well-regulated operations from within Congo. By mapping out the main part of the journey for these sources with the efficiency of the blockchain it should reduce regulatory costs immensely, as the technology is a guaranteed reliable source once put into the ledger.

Companies that are not sourcing their cobalt ethically will not be on this map until proven otherwise, and any supplies who attempt to use tainted supplies of the metal will be found out immediately.

Once this mapping is done the economic feasibility of this project will be shown, one way or the other, and the next step would be to move it into the less regulated areas of the world in hopes to force companies away from child labor.

In an interview Circular CEO Douglas Johnson-Poensgen had this to say:

“We believe it makes economic sense to start with sources that aren’t a problem… Once the system is proven and operating at scale, one can tackle the harder use cases like artisanal mines.”

Though this is just the beginning of this project, the efficiency of the blockchain is quickly being seen around the world by companies in many different industries, its ability to transfer and store information outside of the hands of those that may wish to manipulate is highly invaluable for these humanitarian efforts.

Ensuring transparency in the supply chain of diamonds is another real-life use case of blockchain technology, as demonstrated by Everledger, which was higlighted by BTCManager in February 2017.

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