Blockchain is to be used for the first time to try to track cobalt’s journey from artisanal mines in Democratic Republic of Congo through to products used in smartphones and electric cars.
Blockchain technology is already used in the diamond industry. Gems are given a digital fingerprint that is then tracked by blockchain as gems are sold, giving a forgery-proof record of where the stones have come from.
The cobalt supply chain is far more complex but the developers of the pilot hope blockchain – a decentralized online database in the form of a distributed ledger – can at least track some of the stages that are a major worry for end users.
Carmakers such as Volkswagen are trying to secure long-term cobalt supplies to sustain electric car production, and they are asking suppliers to ensure no child labor was used in the supply chain.