VW LogoVolkswagen Group (VW) has joined an open industry collaboration for the responsible sourcing of strategic minerals. This uses blockchain technology to increase efficiency, sustainability and transparency in global mineral supply chains. Joining the collaboration will enable VW to gain greater insight into the provenance of cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and other types of minerals used elsewhere in the production of vehicles.

Blockchain technology:

  • complements both current assessment and audit procedures
  • supports the responsible sourcing standards developed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
  • creates a permanent record to help address compliance requirements.

A new approach for VW

Traditionally, miners, smelters and consumer brands have had to rely on third-party audits and laborious manual processes to establish compliance with generally accepted industry standards. Built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and powered by the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Fabric, the responsible sourcing platform:

  • addresses the traceability and provenance of minerals
  • implements a design which provides easy access for interested parties of all sizes and roles in the supply chain.

Participants in the network, validated by RCS Global Group for compliance with responsible sourcing standards, can:

  • contribute and access immutable data in a secure and permissioned way
  • trace and record the flow of minerals across or through the supply chain in near real-time.
  • the network members

Today, this blockchain-chain using responsible sourcing network includes participants at each major stage of the supply chain from mine to end-user. Members of the collaboration include:

  • Ford Motor Company
  • Huayou Cobalt
  • IBM
  • LG Chem
  • RCS Global Group.

Based on its open and democratic structure, this responsible sourcing group proposes to expand its membership, by focusing on industries such as:

  • aerospace
  • consumer electronics
  • mining operations.

Enterprise Times: what does this mean

VW is one of the world’s largest automotive OEMs, with suppliers and production facilities worldwide. As such, the responsible sourcing network can expect to obtain the benefit of VW’s extensive business reach as well as its first-hand knowledge of sustainability for supplier relations and mineral sourcing at a global scale.

The curiosity is that this ‘responsible sourcing network’ lacks a formal name. This makes it much harder for outsiders to identify with it, or even to volunteer to participate. That may not matter. The early members are large enough, and with sufficient supply chain ‘coverage’, to drag even the unwilling into long term participation.


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