Eurasian Resources Group is piloting a new blockchain solution to improve cobalt traceability as part of the Group’s Clean Cobalt Framework initiated at Metalkol RTR. The solution will be implemented on the IBM Blockchain Platform and will be able to be applied in future to other battery metals, ensuring lithium-ion batteries have a responsible supply chain. The Clean Cobalt Framework and the new blockchain solution support the mission of the Global Battery Alliance from the World Economic Forum. CEO of ERG Benedikt Sobotka is also co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance, which works to create new industry standards for the metal mining sector.
The announcement about the new blockchain solution was made on the eve of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where discussions were held about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With cobalt as one of the key drivers of the Revolution, sustainable and transparent sourcing of the metal is imperative.
Metalkol RTR is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is ERG’s hydrometallurgical plant. The facility, which is nearing operation, reprocesses historic cobalt and copper tailings from prior operations of other mining companies in the area. The full target capacity of Metalkol RTR is 24kt of cobalt per annum, which represents enough material to equip more than three million electric vehicles with power each year. The blockchain solution enables battery manufacturers to confirm all Metalkol RTR’s cobalt has been sourced responsibly by aggregating all data on the raw material.
Sustainable Metal Mining
The global battery sector is driven by metal mining, including lithium, cobalt, copper and nickel. If they are not sourced sustainably extracting these metals can have a highly detrimental effect on the surrounding ecosystem. Negative effects include pollution, aggravated by the current lack of viable systems for recycling and reuse. Child labour is also rife among artisanal, small-scale mines, particularly in the DRC. Amnesty International and other international NGOs have witnessed children as young as four engaged in mining cobalt in the DRC. Eurasian Resources Group is committed to the responsible, sustainable mining of cobalt. This new blockchain solution will enable ERG to guarantee the provenance of all cobalt to ensure customers are not purchasing materials tainted by unsustainable pollution and child-labour practices at artisanal mines.
Leveraging blockchain and the expertise of IBM allows ERG to determine cobalt’s provenance at every stage of the supply chain on a global level. Currently, this process is expensive and complex. The use of blockchain will ensure that the highest standards are met while reducing costs through more efficient information transparency, sharing and tracking. The blockchain platform will be able to effectively track provenance across the supply chain, from mining and extraction, right through to after it has been smelted and blended. A spokesperson from IBM stated that the implementation of the blockchain platform across every stage of the supply chain will build trust and help transform the mining industry’s entire business process.