According to reports in the Financial Times, Ford will use IBM’s Blockchain Platform to track the cobalt taken from a Chinese-owned mine in the Congo through the supply chain and into the batteries in its electric cars, in an effort to ensure they are not linked to human rights abuses.
Lisa Drake, vice-president of global purchasing and power-train operations at Ford, said: “We remain committed to transparency across our global supply chain. By collaborating with other leading industries in this network, our intent is to use state-of-the-art technology to ensure materials produced for our vehicles will help meet our commitment to protecting human rights and the environment.”
Shanghai stock exchange-listed China-based Huayou Cobalt is one of the world’s biggest producers of cobalt for batteries. In 2016, the company was accused of buying cobalt mined in DRC using child-labour according to Amnesty International.
Now, by using the IBM Blockchain Platform and powered by Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, it will monitor the supply chain to support its efforts to improve the condition of communities in the DRC. The work is being overseen by RCS Global, a UK supply-chain audit company according to the Financial Times.
“This is central to our proactive approach to delivering ethical cobalt,” Chen Hongliang, chief executive of Huayou, said about the pilot. “We also want to have strong, reliable information channels to prove and demonstrate this action to our customers.”
The plan is to eventually open up the platform to other car producers and supply chain participants.