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IBM Teams With Ford, MineHub To Use Blockchain In Mining Supply Chain

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IBM said it joined with Ford Motor Co., Huayou Cobalt, LG Chem and RCS Global to launch a blockchain pilot program to trace and validate ethically sourced minerals. Separately, IBM has collaborated with mining technology company MineHub Technologies, Inc. for a blockchain technology-based solution to use in the global mining and metals supply chain.

Regarding the blockchain pilot program, IBM said the companies expect to create an open, industrywide platform to demonstrate how minerals and other materials for the automotive and consumer electronics industry are responsibly produced, traded and processed.

The blockchain pilot, which is already underway, is expected to be completed mid-year 2019. The move would support human rights and environmental protection, as well as help infuse more transparency into global mineral supply chains.

Initially, the program will focus on responsible sourcing of industrially-mined cobalt, which is in high demand for its use in lithium-ion batteries. Such batteries power a wide range of products such as laptops, mobile devices and electric vehicles.

Participants at each major stage of the supply chain, from mine to end-user, are part of the pilot. For the program, Cobalt produced at Huayou's industrial mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be traced through the supply chain as it travels from mine and smelter to LG Chem's cathode plant and battery plant in South Korea, and finally into a Ford plant in the United States.

According to a report by Morgan Stanley, by 2026, cobalt's demand is expected to multiply eightfold, especially for its use in electric vehicles and consumer devices.

In its collaboration with MineHub, IBM said the MineHub supply chain platform is built on the cloud-based IBM Blockchain Platform, powered by the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Fabric.

The blockchain technology is expected to help improve operational efficiencies, logistics and financing and reduce costs in the high-value mineral concentrates supply chain, from mine to end buyer.

IBM noted that Goldcorp Inc., ING Bank, Kutcho Copper Corp., Ocean Partners USA Inc. and Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. are working with MineHub to build the new mining supply chain solution on top of the IBM Blockchain Platform.

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