Volvo banks on blockchain for cobalt transparency

Volvo banks on blockchain for cobalt transparency

August 19, 2019
Press Release: Circulor

Volvo is using blockchain to source conflict-free cobalt for its cars

Volvo wants to use blockchain technologies to increase transparency regarding the origin of the cobalt used in the batteries of its electric cars. The first project, in China, the home country of Volvo’s mother company Geely, has now been launched.

Volvo informed media sources that it had completed the first blockchain with recycled cobalt in China. According to Volvo, the blockchain is intended to achieve “complete transparency and traceability”.

With the first blockchain developed by UK blockchain specialist, Circulor, Volvo wants to have tracked the cobalt over a period of two months – from a Chinese recycling plant through cell production at CATL to delivery to the factory. This was announced by the car-maker in an email to Reuters.

According to one of the companies involved, the blockchain should not displace other measures. “No technology can completely replace due diligence,” Doug Johnson-Poensgen, CEO of Circulor, told Reuters. “What it will do is improve enforcement of standards by highlighting when things are not working as intended.”

Car manufacturers are under public pressure not to use materials in their electric cars that have been extracted under precarious conditions – such as well-known cobalt mines in Congo, that have reportedly been exploiting child labor.

Earlier this year, it was reported that Volkswagen had joined an industry initiative for responsible purchasing of strategic minerals, especially cobalt. The initiative intends to use blockchain technology to help to improve efficiency, sustainability and transparency in global and complex supply chains.

According to the Reuters report, Volvo has also joined a project supervised by RCS Global to monitor cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ford, IBM, LG Chem and the Chinese company Huayou Cobalt are also involved in the project.

Volvo apparently wants to use blockchain technology on a larger scale this year but did not want to give further details of the endeavor at this stage.

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