Glencore and other miners have partnered with battery material supplier Umicore to pilot a blockchain solution for sustainable cobalt traceability.

The group includes Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) and China Molybdenum (CMOC).

The team intends to pilot ReISource, a solution that will use blockchain technology to trace responsibly produced cobalt from the mine to the electric car.

Designed to help address the growing need for cobalt value chain visibility, the solution will use technologies such as blockchain and zero-knowledge proofs to link digital flows with physical material flows on the ground.

Glencore said that the pilot programme for the solution will be carried out in real operating conditions, from upstream cobalt production facilities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to downstream electric vehicle production sites.

It will run until the end of this year with plans for the final solution roll-out next year.

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The ReISource solution will be integrated with a set of industrial sustainable mining and sourcing standards and frameworks to help ensure sustainable sourcing of all cobalt, which will be used in end products.

Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg 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 such as the Fair Cobalt Alliance (FCA).”

ReISource also has a direct link with the Battery Passport project, which aims to transform the entire value chain to make battery production more responsible and sustainable.

The Battery Passport project is led by Global Battery Alliance (GBA), which is made of ERG, Umicore, Glencore, among others.