Government Of Rwanda To Use Blockchain To Track Conflict Metal Tantalum
Conflict resources are natural resources extracted in a conflict zone and sold to perpetuate the fighting. There is both statistical and anecdotal evidence that belligerent accessibility to precious commodities can prolong conflicts. The most prominent contemporary example has been the eastern provinces of Congo and nearby countries like Rwanda, where various armies, rebel groups, and outside actors have profited from mining while contributing to violence and exploitation during wars in the region. The four most commonly mined conflict minerals are cassiterite (for tin), wolframite (for tungsten), coltan (for tantalum), and gold ore.
Tantalum is used primarily for the production of tantalum capacitors, particularly for applications requiring high performance, a small compact format and high reliability, from hearing aids and pacemakers, to airbags, GPS, ignition systems and anti-lock braking systems in automobiles, through to laptop computers, mobile phones, video game consoles, video cameras and digital cameras. Rwanda is one of the world's primary exporters of tantalum concentrates, producing around a half of the global supply in 2014.
Rwanda has partnered with a U.K.-based blockchain startup to trace the mining of the conflict metal tantalum in the country. Rwanda is the world’s leading producer of tantalum, and by using blockchain technology in partnership with startup Circulor, the Rwandan Mining, Petroleum and Gas Board plans to make the production of tantalum more transparent.
Francis Gatare, chief executive of Rwanda’s Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, said it was vital for Rwanda to prove it was a conflict-free source of tantalum, used among other things in mobile phones, and other minerals.
“Blockchain is one of the technologies that has demonstrated capabilities of providing a more efficient and effective way of delivering traceability for commodities,” Gatare said.
Douglas Johnson-Poensgen, CEO of Circulor said:
“Circulor will not only assist miners in Rwanda to adhere to strict guidelines laid out in international agreements to remove conflict minerals from the supply chain but will also record all the production stages before a smartphone or computer reaches the consumer.”