The car industry has progressed at a rapid pace in recent years and now almost every car manufacturer wants to provide electric vehicles to the customers. The demand for electric cars is only going to increase because there is a great need to cut emissions. Not only the governments’ legislations are forcing the companies to manufacture environment-friendly alternatives, but the customers’ demand is also the reason. So, companies are working day and night to create new batteries that are better than those already being used.
The most important component in batteries used in cars and mobile phones is cobalt, and around 59% of the supply comes from the Democratic Republic of the Cong. Even though the demand is high are prices are increasing at a rapid pace the laborers working in the mines are in poor conditions, working for too little money. Thousands of those worked are under 14 and get paid even less. Questions have also been raised about illegal mining and human abuses in the country.
Last year, many Congolese families filed a lawsuit against some top US companies claiming that their children got injured or killed in these mines. They claimed that these companies knew that cobalt they are getting is linked with child labor, but they failed to do anything about it.
This is a big problem for carmakers; they have to ensure that the materials they are getting are not linked with child labor or human abuse. But, Volvo has already found a solution to this, the use of new technology. The company announced last year that it would use blockchain technology to trace the cobalt used in the batteries of the vehicle.
The company has worked with a couple of suppliers and has invested in blockchain to help introduce the new technology. One of the company’s officials told us that we are already working to help the laborers working in the mine, but we also want to be able to trace the cobalt we use in our batteries. So, far we lacked the technology that could help us do this, but with the use of this new technology, we would finally be able to do it.