A Blockchain Solution for Cobalt Traceability
A global EV pioneer and one of the world’s leading battery makers are also part of the pilot. Tested in real operating conditions, from upstream cobalt production sites in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to downstream electric vehicle production sites, the pilot will run until the end of 2021, with the roll-out of the final solution expected in 2022.
Assured through blockchain technology, the solution is a unique industry partnership between EV supply chain majors aiming to accelerate sustainable practices for every unit of cobalt mined, processed and used in end products. Founded by CMOC, ERG and Glencore and launched in 2019, Re-Source was later joined by Umicore, as well as a battery and EV company. It is designed with the direct input of responsible sourcing, and supply chain experts from all participating companies, proactively addressing the growing need for cobalt value chain visibility.
The collaboration between major cobalt industry players working in the DRC, deploys various technologies, including blockchain and Zero-Knowledge Proofs, to link digital flows with physical material flows on the ground. The ground-breaking solution is supported by boutique technology studio Kryha, which is experienced in carbon footprint and metals traceability and known for projects with the World Economic Forum.
To meet the consortiums’ mission of ensuring that all cobalt used in end products will be sustainably sourced, Re-Source integrates a comprehensive set of industrial sustainable mining and sourcing standards and frameworks, such as ICMM, RMI, IRMA CIRAF1, Copper Mark and others. The solution is therefore also exploring how aspects of the related GHG emissions along the value chain can be traced and disclosed.
In addition to EV supply chain majors, Re-Source is developed with the involvement of a broad group of industry advisors and stakeholders. It reflects their expectations about all aspects of sustainably sourced materials and is designed to be used by wide-ranging industry players.
Re-Source also has a direct link with the Battery Passport project of the Global Battery Alliance (GBA), through ERG, Umicore, Glencore and other Re-Source pilot partners, members of the GBA. The Battery Passport is aimed at transforming the entire value chain to make battery production more responsible and sustainable. The member companies believe that these projects support each other and together will deliver on the overarching agenda of increasing sustainability in the wider battery supply chain.
Marc Grynberg, CEO of Umicore, said: “I am proud to support Re-Source in developing a technology solution to assure traceability in the entire battery industry. For many years, Umicore has been a pioneer in promoting a sustainable value chain by only offering battery materials of a certified and ethical origin. Today, we share our expertise within this innovatory consortium and participate in the pilot to develop an industry-wide traceability technology, which is an important step towards a sustainable value chain for all batteries.”
Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, said: “Blockchain technology offers us an unprecedented ability for traceability in the supply chain. Through this pilot, we are supporting the development of this tool for our customers who seek to understand and demonstrate the origin of the cobalt units in their products. But traceability is not enough on its own, it must be part of a wider industry effort to bring improvements to the entire cobalt supply chain. This starts with responsible sourcing compliance, for example through RMI; the collective use of wider ESG standards such as CIRAF and ICMM; and supporting the artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sector through multi-stakeholder initiatives like the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA).”
Sun Ruiwen, CEO of CMOC, said: “Re-Source is a very exciting development in global battery industry. As a global leading producer and trader of cobalt, CMOC and its trading affiliate IXM are committed to the responsible mining, processing and use of cobalt. We believe this initiative will help increase the transparency throughout the value chain. In the backdrop of the global energy transition and China pledging carbon neutrality by 2060, the battery industry is growing and expanding rapidly. A transparent and responsible supply chain, bringing together all stakeholders with this joint effort, will give end users greater confidence in cobalt as a raw material.”
Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of ERG and co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance, said: “Eurasian Resources Group prides itself on being a leading cobalt producer globally, operating the second-largest standalone cobalt production facility with a design capacity of 24 ktpa. As part of our continued efforts to ensure cobalt is responsibly sourced and processed, a key focus for ERG has been collaborating with leading public and private organisations to respond to the growing battery market powering the energy transition and the low carbon economy which is the biggest purchase order in history. Piloting the Re-Source solution is a vital milestone that brings us one step closer to unveiling the significant potential of batteries, while strengthening transparency and sustainability of battery materials across the value chain – also a mission of the Global Battery Alliance, where ERG is a founding member.”