Car manufacturer Volvo has announced plans to harness the blockchain to trace the cobalt, and other minerals, used within its batteries.

Over the next decade, Volvo, together with its battery suppliers, CATL and LG Chem, will ensure that the coming generation of Volvo batteries are sourced via ethical means. Volvo's break into blockchain marks the third automaker to take a stand against the hazardous cobalt mining industry, in recent months. 

In a statement, Volvo Cars head of procurement, Martina Buchhauser, said, “With blockchain technology we can take the next step towards ensuring full traceability of our supply chain and minimising any related risks, in close collaboration with our suppliers.”

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For Volvo, this will initially start with cobalt but will later expand to other elements, including tin, tungsten, tantalum, lithium, nickel and gold. 

Volvo has also joined The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN) consortium, currently consists of VW, Ford, IBM, RCS Global, LG Chem, and Huayou Cobalt. Employing IBM's blockchain platform, the RSBN aims to ensure full transparency to the supply chains of its members by mid-2020.

The RSBN blockchain will be used to trace the origin of the cobalt, its size as well as the weight of the mineral. Further scrutiny will also be placed on other participants within the supply chain to confirm compliance with guidelines drafted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Volvo's participation follows a successful initial test of the RSBN blockchain. According to an IBM press release, cobalt produced at Huayou's mining site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was effectively traced to LG Chem's battery plant in South Korea, before a  final home stretch to a Ford factory in the US.