Re|Source, a solution to trace responsibly produced cobalt from mine to electric vehicle (EV), has launched a pilot project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) jointly developed with EV giant Tesla.
The program is being tested in real operating conditions at multiple on-site pilots, including the DRC and Europe, Re|Source said, with further pilots in Asia and the US planned to start later this year. The final pilot across the entire Tesla supply chain is expected to take place in the fourth quarter. The launch of the final industry solution, supported by boutique blockchain technology studio, Kryha, will follow in 2022, it said.
World’s reserves of cobalt
DRC holds around 70% of the world’s reserves of cobalt, crucial for the lithium-ion batteries used in the fast-growing EV sector. Congo’s artisanal miners are the world’s second-largest source of cobalt after the country’s industrial mines. Consultancy CRU expects the DRC to produce more than 100,000 tonnes of cobalt this year, or 71% of the global total, of which 8,000 will come from artisanal sources.
Several market actors are involved in similar initiatives in the DRC. Volkswagen, for one, is working on improving working conditions in the cobalt-rich nation. The metal, a by-product of copper or nickel, is an essential metal in the production of the batteries that power EVs and high-tech devices.
Trading house Trafigura inked earlier this year a supply deal with Entreprise Générale du Cobalt (EGC), a DRC-owned company that began operating in March. It was created a year ago to help control artisanal supplies and boost government revenue through price controls. China’s biggest cobalt producer, Huayou Cobalt, which supplies to LG Chem as well as Volkswagen, said last year it would stop buying from artisanal miners in the DRC.