Retired NBA Star Backs Blockchain for Ethical Cobalt Mining in Congo
BlueTech Investments, a private equity firm led by retired NBA hall of fame player Dikembe Mutombo, and its international partners will invest $1 billion in ethical mining projects in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), including a blockchain-based traceability solution.
“BlueTech promotes environmentally conscious mining, along with blockchain integrated track-and-trace methodologies, anti-corruption efforts, and the elimination of child labor exploitation,” the company said on its website.
NBA Hall of Famer and Global Philanthropist, Dikembe Mutombo and Partners, to Invest US$1 Billion in Ethical Mining Projects in Democratic Republic of the Congo to Support Electric Vehicles and Other Technologies https://t.co/CbBhn3l8mm
— Dikembe Mutombo (@officialmutombo) April 27, 2021
According to a press release published on Tuesday, the investment is aimed at helping make the mining of copper, cobalt, and other key minerals used in electric vehicle batteries “ethically sourced” and “conflict-free.”
Tracing cobalt with blockchain
As part of this initiative, a portion of the funds will be used to develop a blockchain-based supply chain that will enable mining products to be traced across their whole lifespan. In theory, this could help local authorities to tackle corruption, since data on a decentralized network is immutable and can’t be tampered with.
“The D.R.C. has a vast resource of minerals, (including 68% of the world's cobalt reserves), and D.R.C. President Tshisekedi's pledge to root out the corruption that has hindered the country over the past 60 years is integral in realising the nation's potential as a world-leading supplier,” the press release noted.
This is especially important since up to 30% of the DRC’s cobalt is being produced via artisanal and small-scale mining facilities that are prone to corruption, child labor exploitation, and other forms of human rights violations, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mutombo himself is from the DRC and has long been eager to bring substantial international investments to his home country.
“I have waited a lifetime for the opportunity to bring international investment and wealth back to my homeland, and I wholeheartedly believe the time is now!” Mutombo said in the announcement.
He's not the only one looking to tackle the issues of cobalt mining in Congo with the help of decentralized technologies. Back in November 2019, car manufacturer Volvo announced that it would use blockchain to trace various minerals, including cobalt, used in its batteries.