Glencore to Use ‘Responsible Sourcing’ Blockchain Consortium for Tracing Cobalt

Cobalt manufacturer Glencore PLC is joining the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN). 

In an official statement on December 12, the publicly traded firm, one of the world’s biggest cobalt makers, declared it would use RSBN’s Hyperledger Fabric platform for its cobalt production and eventually become a full consortium member by February next year.

The development comes after Glencore’s prior pledge to give blockchain a chance in its supply chain. In October, it consented to “design and deploy blockchain solutions” in cooperation with the World Economic Forum and six other mining stakeholders.

RBSN seems to be the beneficiary of that initiative. The cross-industry consortium of miners, refineries, carmakers, and tech companies has already been structuring an audited minerals-tracing platform, which runs on the IBM blockchain.

It intends to add transparency to the mining supply network, an industry frequently defaced by reports of exploitative worker treatment like widespread child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a worldwide cobalt hotspot.

With that in mind, RSBN’s member groups have concentrated on cobalt as the platform’s first test mineral. Cobalt is a significant component in lithium-ion battery configuration, leading companies including Volkswagen, Ford, LG subsidiary LG Chemical, Volvo, and IBM to sign on.

The test run traced a 1.5 ton batch of cobalt from Congolese mines to a Ford Motor Company plant in Mexico. Presently, RSBN members state they will take the framework live in commercial production early next year.

Glencore, as well, plans to implement the platform by “spring 2020,” as indicated by its public statement. While it will at first focus on cobalt, Glencore stated it would bring tantalum, tin, gold, and tungsten onto the platform next year.

“RSBN plays a key role in advancing the sustainable partnership between the producers of commodities that will enable the transition to a low-carbon economy and key consumers around the world,” Glencore’s cobalt marketing chief Nico Paraskevas said in the public statement.