Volvo Targeting Conflict-Free Cobalt for Electric Cars

Automotive giant Volvo is turning to blockchain technology to guarantee its new electric vehicles are built using recycled cobalt. In an announcement by Reuters, Volvo outlines its initiative to make Cobalt mining in the Congo ethical. The goal of the project is to provide complete proof to both customers and investors that the electric vehicles do not rely on conflict minerals or child labor. Volvo has turned to blockchain technology to help provide transparency and accountability from mining to the factory.  

UK based blockchain firm Circulor developed the blockchain for Volvo in collaboration with tech giant Oracle. The mission was to track the cobalt, the main ingredient in batteries, are supplied from ethically sourced miners. Circulor CEO, Doug Johnson-Poensgen, commented on the project saying “no technology can replace the due diligence. It can only improve the implementation benchmarks by highlighting the things that are not working the way it should.” 

The triad of companies ran a test of the platform which began on the 27th of June which tracked cobalt from a Chinese recycling plant to Volvo cars Zhejiang over a two-month period. Volvo hopes the blockchain will create an immutable ledger to provide liability and transparency all over the supply chain.   

The initiative saw large companies such as IBM, Ford, Huayou Cobalt and LG Chem all come together to join the initiative of ethically sourced material for their batteries. IBM’s General Manager of mining and industrial sector business commented “There is no fool-proof method, but you have to keep the ball moving forward, to keep raising the level of accuracy. Blockchain has been proven to be a very effective technology in raising the bar.” 

Whilst all involved understand that making cobalt mining in the Congo is a difficult task, they are all in agreement that blockchain is a significant step forward in efficiency and clarity. 


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