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Rwanda to host 1st project to track tantalum production via blockchain

Rwanda will host the world's first blockchain project to track tantalum from the pit face to the refinery in an effort to attract investors seeking a conflict-free source of minerals, Reuters reported, citing Francis Gatare, chief executive of the country's Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board.

The project is the brainchild of U.K-based blockchain startup Circulor and Power Resources Group PLC. Tantalum has various uses, including capacitors and high-power resistors in the electronics industry.

Circulor will employ facial recognition and GPS tracking to try to prevent corruption of the system, according to Power Resources Group CEO Ray Power. The tracking technology will also compare the amount of each batch of material put into a refinery from sealed bags with the end product.

Rwanda aims to disprove allegations that its commodities are blended with smuggled minerals from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"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.

Anglo American PLC subsidiary De Beers SA has employed blockchain technology in a bid to verify that its diamonds are produced under child labor- and conflict-free conditions. De Beers has operations around the world including in Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. Projects are also underway to track cobalt.