Rwanda has partnered with a U.K. based blockchain firm Circulor to utilize blockchain technology in tracing the mining of the country’s conflict metal, Tantalum.
The East African nation is the world’s leading producer of Tantalum, the mineral used in production of consumer electronics like smart phones (including Apple i-phones) and computers.
According to a press release by the country’s Mining, Petroleum and Gas Board, Rwanda looks to ensure more transparency in the production of this mineral- Tantalum. The board believes the implementation of blockchain technology will help mineral mining companies comply with internationally mandated guidelines to eradicate sources of funding for conflict minerals. In his words, Chairman of the board opined;
Blockchain is one of the technologies that has demonstrated capabilities of providing a more efficient and effective way for delivering traceability for commodities. By its implementation, we intend to woo investors with assurances of conflict-free minerals especially as international laws against illegal mining, exploitation and distribution are being proclaimed.
Rwanda looks to use Circulor’s blockchain platform for tracing the Tantalum’s supply chain and harnessing its mineral wealth for more economic growth.
Explaining further the benefits of blockchain implementation in the system, Circulor CEO Douglas Johnson-Poensgen remarked:
Our blockchain platform will empower consumers to understand where the materials (Tantalum) in the products they buy come from and also make it harder for materials that are not ethically sourced to pass through the supply chain. Through Blockchain technology, costs incurred by miners will be reduced as they currently bear a disproportionate share of the cost of compliance.
This new trend of utilizing blockchain tech in tracking ethical practices around natural mineral sources is sure a long term solution. Government and companies look to implement the system in the wake of recent clamours against exploitation (child labour), smuggling and illegal mining of natural minerals as against international laws cum human rights.
As seen in Rwanda’s case, allegations have been made stating its resources are being blended with smuggled minerals with these claims and more fueling conflicts with its neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Notably, Circulor had also partnered German car manufacturer BMW to track cleanly mined Cobalt supplies (used in batteries) in line with ethical provisions. Also De Beers, world renowned Anglo-American Diamond producing company had announced its use of blockchain technology to digitally track diamonds in a bid to ensure efficiency in the supply chain, improve consumer and public trust in the company’s non-conflict diamond production especially concerns over child labour.
In all, the technology behind cryptocurrency (Bitcoin); blockchain technology will boost investor confidence in dealing with mineral mining companies. This is as a result of the shared/unified database of transactions over the blockchain which make it difficult for anyone to solely tamper with records as opposed to the current separate records system.
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