The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN), a blockchain network committed to strengthening human rights and environmental protection in mineral supply chains, announced that its digital supply chain for cobalt has moved beyond pilot phase and is progressing toward use in live production computing environments starting in spring 2020. For more information on this topic see the IDTechEx report on The Li-ion Battery Supply Chain 2020-2030.
Built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and assured by RCS Global Group, RSBN will have continued participation from founding members including Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen Group, LG Chem and Huayou Cobalt.
Volvo Cars joins responsible sourcing leaders in the RSBN
Volvo Cars will join the network as its newest member with further partners from the auto, tech and mining sectors expected to join this year.
RSBN and its pioneering participants are building an open, industrywide blockchain platform to trace responsibly produced minerals from source through to end product, with RCS Global assessing each participating entity against responsible sourcing requirements set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and industry bodies.
"We are setting in motion a process of mainstreaming responsible sourcing practices across major industries," said Dr. Nicholas Garrett, CEO of RCS Global Group. "We've reached significant new milestones as we've moved beyond testing, proving the merits of this coupled technology and assurance model can extend to a wide range of participants across every tier of the supply chain and to other minerals. The early addition of Volkswagen Group and now Volvo Cars to this collaboration confirms that blockchain technology together with responsible sourcing assurance can help address critical sustainability issues impacting the entire industry," he adds.
Volvo Cars eyes practical implementation starting in spring 2020
Volvo Cars will be the first company in the consortium to fully apply the RSBN solution in its LG Chem supply chain beginning in spring 2020. The automaker also plans to apply RSBN to other key minerals found in its batteries, including nickel and lithium in the future.
Volkswagen AG has been working with relevant battery suppliers to address the need for supply chain due diligence and is now aiming to significantly increase its supply chain mapping and auditing activities for key battery mineral supply chains.
Through the RSBN, and other initiatives, Volkswagen AG is utilizing technology toward securing better supply chain traceability and transparency and to connect this information with the sustainability performance of supply chain partners.
Ford states that as they are preparing to launch their global all-electric Mustang-inspired SUV next year, the RSBN becomes an important tool to strengthen transparency and visibility into its global mineral supply chain. Expanding this network beyond cobalt to other battery minerals will compound the RBSN's positive impact on human rights protection and labor practices.
Achievements of pilot test phase
In initial testing, the RSBN blockchain demonstrated how cobalt produced at Huayou's industrial mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could be traced through the supply chain to LG Chem's cathode and battery plant in South Korea, and then to its final destination, a Ford plant in the United States.
An immutable audit trail captured on the platform delivered corresponding data providing documentation for the initial ethical cobalt production, its maintenance and its ethical provenance from mine to end manufacturer.
RCS Global Group builds on its supply chain mapping and auditing activities for global OEMs and key battery mineral supply chains and has successfully assessed and validated each supply chain participant against responsible sourcing standards developed by the OECD, as well as the good practice requirements of relevant industry organizations like the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) Blockchain Guidelines.
Expansion to other minerals
Next to expansion into other battery metals, including lithium and nickel, the platform is also actively working to progress the solution to support tracing other common metals including tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, also known as 3TG. Further announcements will be made over the initial pilot consortiums in the additional raw materials.
Statements regarding future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice and represent goals and objectives only.
Source and top image: IBM