Rwanda Uses Blockchain tech to Track Conflict Metal Tantalum

Circulor, a British start-up specializing in Blockchain, is participating in an initiative spearheaded by the Rwandan government to record the provenance of metals used in consumer electronics.

The project, which is now live, was announced by Francis Gatare, the CEO of the Rwandan Mining, Petroleum and Gas Board and who is also a Rwandan Government minister, at a meeting of the Rwandan Mining Association. During the announcement, Mr. Gatare said “Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board today has been introduced to a new and innovative mineral traceability solution using blockchain technology. The initiative is already being implemented by at least one exporter from Rwanda.”

Companies will be able to use Circulor’s platform to tag and trace tantalum mined in Rwanda as it passes through the supply chain. Mining company PRG Resources, who are in Apple’s supply chain as a producer of tantalum, ran the pilot and are now using the production system.

Companies can trace metal even as it is processed into intermediate products and mixed with other raw materials. “Circulor’s technology will bring greater transparency to the tantalum supply chain,” said Circulor CEO Douglas Johnson-Poensgen. “Our blockchain platform will empower consumers to understand where the materials 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.  It will also dramatically reduce costs for miners who current shoulder a disproportionate share of the cost of compliance.”

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.

Smart Contracts, or code embedded in the blockchain, will enable the supply chain to verify each transaction or event that is posted. The platform is built on Hyperledger Fabric, the open source enterprise-grade private permissioned ledger code developed in a global collaboration, hosted by The Linux Foundation.

Most of the world’s tantalum comes from Rwanda, making the country a vital contributor to the world’s consumer electronics market. This initiative will help to secure Rwanda’s role in the supply chain, by helping companies comply with the internationally mandated efforts to eradicate sources of funding for conflict minerals.


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