In a move that is likely to be welcomed by some, if not all, electric vehicle and electronic device manufacturers, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is currently running a pilot of a blockchain solution for the cobalt and coltan provenance. The solution, which has apparently been given the go-ahead by President Joseph Kabila, is developed by Dorae Inc. (Dorae).
This pilot, if it proves successful in applying blockchain technology to the secure transmission of mining supply chain data, will likely lift the child mining cloud that has been hovering around the DRC as far as cobalt and coltan mining is concerned.
Aba Schubert, Co-Founder at Dorae Inc.
"Dorae is a private company and the project is supported by the government. The President [Joseph Kabila] approved our project in the DRC, and we were met with enthusiastic support and the recognition that our project is designed to bring value back to the citizens of the DRC and to help the government pursue its goals relating to the stable and enriching development of natural resources," explained Aba Schubert, Co-Founder at Dorae, to iAfrikan on the pilot they are running in the DRC.
Dorae, which punts itself as "the blockchain for raw materials", was founded by Ricardo Santos Silva and Aba Schubert. It currently has offices in Palo Alto, Grand Cayman, and London. Schubert is not new to both the technology and mining sectors as she previously worked as an investor and entrepreneur in both industries.
As Schubert goes on to explain, the Dorae blockchain system can be applied to any raw material.
"We started operations in the DRC because of its strategic reserves of Cobalt and Coltan (Tantalum) and because the value of Dorae in the DRC is tremendous. Over time, we plan to expand the Dorae system to cover the production of raw materials around the world including timber, diamonds, other metal ores and agricultural commodities," said Schubert.
How the Dorae blockchain works for the provenance of raw materials.
Dorae are not the only ones working on raw materials provenance solutions using blockchain technology. Recently, BMW kick-started a pilot with a London-based startup to track and verify where it sources the cobalt it uses in manufacturing its electric vehicles. Another notable company looking at blockchain technology for raw materials provenance is the De Beers Group, which announced its Diamond Blockchain Initiative in January 2018.
How the Dorae solution is that when a raw material is first sold (at the mine, farm, etc.), key information gets logged in the Dorae Blockchain - information such as what the material is, its place of origin, a method of extraction, quality,
inspection details, etc. Then, each time the materials changes hands — for transit, processing, etc. — details of that transaction and any changes to the material are again logged in the Dorae Blockchain, creating a permanent and secure record from origin to final use.
Dorae's purpose, with its raw materials blockchain solution, is to solve the issue of a lack of trust in the sourcing of raw materials, using distributed ledger technology (blockchain) to create an immutable record of a material's journey from source to end-user ("mine to mobile"). This purpose, like what many others are trying to achieve, will likely bring us closer to the ethical mining and sourcing of cobalt and coltan in the DRC.