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BMW, Circulor tap blockchain for clean cobalt

Auto giant BMW is working on a blockchain pilot project in collaboration with a UK-based startup Circulor, Reuters reported.

Nearly two thirds of the world’s cobalt supplies come from Democratic Republic of Congo, where around one fifth is mined in unregulated artisanal mines. BMW seeks to use blockchain technology to eradicate the rampant child labor for producing battery minerals.

The pilot would help prove that batteries contain only “clean cobalt.” Speaking with Reuters, Circulor CEO Douglas Johnson-Poensgen said that the pilot will map cobalt that is assumed to be clean as it comes from countries such as Australia and Canada or from industrial production in Congo.

“We believe it makes economic sense to start with sources that aren’t a problem,” Johnson-Poensgen told Reuters. “Once the system is proven and operating at scale, one can tackle the harder use cases like artisanal mines.”

The project involves assigning a barcode to clean cobalt and enter the main stages of its journey on to an immutable ledger. He said that the technology could help lower regulatory compliance costs, adding that the economics are still needed to be proved.

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