IBM Blockchain

Two separate projects have been announced by IBM for tracking supply chains with the use of the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain platform. Both the projects are meant for the metals industry. One of the projects is designed for tracking cobalt traveling from one mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo to a Ford Motor Company plant in the USA. The other project is meant for monitoring metals shipping from a Mexico mine.

IBM Blockchain Project for Ford and LG

The first IBM blockchain project will monitor the movement of 1.5 ton batch of cobalt from a cobalt mine (Huayou Cobalt) in Congo to its ultimate destination to the Ford plant in the US. After leaving Congo, the cobalt will be moved to China for refining. Once refining is done, the refined cobalt will be traveled to LG Chem battery plant (belonging to LG Corp) in South Korea. Another technology company is also there in the supply chain and it is RCS Global. From there, the battery for an electric car will be traveled to the Ford plant in the United States.

The entire trip of the cobalt from Congo to the US will take around 5 months time and the entire supply chain will be recorded on the IBM powered blockchain. The participants in the supply chain including Huayou Cobalt, LG Chem, RCS Global, and Ford will reportedly maintain the blockchain having permissions. This IBM designed blockchain is built on Fabric for registering each step of the metal’s movement.

IBM Blockchain

Manish Chawla, IBM’s general manager for global industrial products, said that the blockchain technology will enable the participants to check whether the material was sourced in accordance with the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) standards.

How will the IBM Blockchain help to fight Against Child Labor?

Using child labor at cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo has come up as a grave problem. Such cobalt mines have become so infamous that this has caught attention of the human rights groups. RCS Global, partner of IBM, will monitor practices (including the use of child labors) carried out in these cobalt mines in Congo.

Reports say RCS Global will send its employees to the small cobalt mining sites in Congo to check whether the site is carrying out any illegal practice. Once the verification is done and approved, they will put bar code tags on the cobalt ore bags. RCS Global project director, Jonathan Ellermann, said that bar code tagging of the ore bag will mean that the mines didn’t violate any law.

In case, any illegal activity such as use of child labors are found working in the cobalt mines, the information will be recorded in the RCS system, alerting the RCS headquarters. In fact, the exporters working with the mine are also informed that the batch of cobalt ore they will receive doesn’t meet the international guidelines. Ellermann went on to explain that in such cases “either the sourcing goes away from this site, or the prevention practices are put back in place”. In the entire process involved in the blockchain, humans are to be trusted for making correct input of data.


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