The development of a pilot blockchain solution that will be able to ensure that cobalt intended for industrial use is not that which is mined in artisanal mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by means of child labour is currently under way, as reported by Reuters. This technology will enable manufacturers of cobalt-containing electronic devices to prevent the use of cobalt mined in such a way in production of smartphones, rechargeable batteries and other cobalt-requiring electronic devices.
The report does not specify who is the initiator of the project but states that its pilot version is expected to be launched this year.
The idea of approaching the problem of exploitation of child labour in the African artisanal mines through implementation of blockchain-based solution was first voiced by Core Consultants at the conference held by the Cobalt Development Institute in 2017. The company proposed to weigh the bags with mined cobalt using a standard scale and a standard spectrometer right at place to ensure the miners are getting paid for their work and identify the cobalt itself so that this information could be digitalized and stored on the blockchain together with allocated barcode.
“The payment to the artisanal miner is processed- that payment is recorded and he is given an amount of money. So we have a physical transaction, digitally recorded: Cash in exchange for goods. So now what we have is evidence of the miner bringing the cobalt to the traders and the traders paying for this cobalt based on weight and contained cobalt. So the evidence is recorded and this evidence can be viewed by everyone on the blockchain,” – the related presentation reads.
This year, a similar idea was proposed by De Beers Group for diamond mining. The so-called Diamond Blockchain Initiative will be able to trace diamonds’ origins by means of registering each of them on blockchain.