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Volvo Cars Joins Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, Launched by IBM, Ford, and Volkswagen Group; Advancing Ethical Sourcing of Minerals Continues to Scale With This Network

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The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN), a blockchain network committed to strengthening human rights and environmental protection in mineral supply chains, today announced that its digital supply chain for cobalt has moved beyond pilot phase and is progressing toward use in live production computing environments starting in spring 2020.

Built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and assured by RCS Global Group, RSBN will have continued participation from founding members including Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen Group, LG Chem and Huayou Cobalt.

Volvo Cars joins responsible sourcing leaders in the RSBN

Starting today, Volvo Cars will join the network as its newest member with further partners from the auto, tech and mining sectors expected to join this year.

RSBN and its pioneering participants are building an open, industrywide blockchain platform to trace responsibly produced minerals from source through to end product, with RCS Global assessing each participating entity against responsible sourcing requirements set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and industry bodies.

We are setting in motion a process of mainstreaming responsible sourcing practices across major industries,” said Dr. Nicholas Garrett, CEO of RCS Global Group. “We’ve reached significant new milestones as we’ve moved beyond testing, proving the merits of this coupled technology and assurance model can extend to a wide range of participants across every tier of the supply chain and to other minerals. The early addition of Volkswagen Group and now Volvo Cars to this collaboration confirms that blockchain technology together with responsible sourcing assurance can help address critical sustainability issues impacting the entire industry,” he adds.

Volvo Cars eyes practical implementation starting in spring 2020
Volvo Cars will be the first company in the consortium to fully apply the RSBN solution in its LG Chem supply chain beginning in spring 2020.  The automaker also plans to apply RSBN to other key minerals found in its batteries, including nickel and lithium in the future.

Volkswagen AG has been working with relevant battery suppliers to address the need for supply chain due diligence and is now aiming to significantly increase its supply chain mapping and auditing activities for key battery mineral supply chains.

Through the RSBN, and other initiatives, Volkswagen AG is utilizing technology toward securing better supply chain traceability and transparency and to connect this information with the sustainability performance of supply chain partners.

Ford states that as they are preparing to launch their global all-electric Mustang-inspired SUV next year, the RSBN becomes an important tool to strengthen transparency and visibility into its global mineral supply chain. Expanding this network beyond cobalt to other battery minerals will compound the RBSN’s positive impact on human rights protection and labor practices.

Achievements of pilot test phase
In initial testing, the RSBN blockchain demonstrated how cobalt produced at Huayou’s industrial mine site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) could be traced through the supply chain to LG Chem’s cathode and battery plant in South Korea, and then to its final destination, a Ford plant in the United States.

An immutable audit trail captured on the platform delivered corresponding data providing documentation for the initial ethical cobalt production, its maintenance and its ethical provenance from mine to end manufacturer.

RCS Global Group builds on its supply chain mapping and auditing activities for global OEMs and key battery mineral supply chains and has successfully assessed and validated each supply chain participant against responsible sourcing standards developed by the OECD, as well as the good practice requirements of relevant industry organizations like the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) Blockchain Guidelines.

Expansion to other minerals
Next to expansion into other battery metals, including lithium and nickel, the platform is also actively working to progress the solution to support tracing other common metals including tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, also known as 3TG. Further announcements will be made over the initial pilot consortiums in the additional raw materials.

Statements regarding future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice and represent goals and objectives only.

 

SOURCE IBM

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eToroX Adds Dash, USDC, USDT and 5 New Stablecoins

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eToroX, the blockchain subsidiary of global investment platform eToro, has added five new fiat stablecoins, a new cryptoasset, two further established stablecoins and a crypto-commodity pair, signalling its rapid growth, having only launched only six months ago. There are now 26 tradable assets available on the exchange.

The new assets announced today are:

  • Turkish Lira (TRYX), Polish Zloty (PLNX), South African Rand (ZARX), Hong Kong Dollar (HKDX), and Singapore Dollar (SGDX)
  • Peer-to-peer cryptoasset, Dash
  • Circle’s USDC and Tether’s USDT stablecoins
  • GOLDX/BTC pairing

eToroX is committed to supporting the needs of algo traders seeking to diversify into cryptoassets on a secure and regulated platform. These new additions also demonstrate eToroX’s focus on Asian markets.

Doron Rosenblum, Managing Director of eToroX commented, “We see the addition of USDC and USDT as a way for eToroX to further meet the needs of professional and institutional algo traders, particularly in the Asian markets. Adding five new stablecoins, plus the addition of the Dash cryptoasset, demonstrates our ongoing commitment to bridge the gap between the world of blockchain and traditional financial markets.”

GoldX – the tokenized gold stablecoin – is now available as a base currency for a trading as a pair with Bitcoin (GOLDX/BTC). Increasingly, bitcoin is being compared with gold as a store of value. Gold is viewed as a safe haven asset, and bitcoin is increasingly being referred to as ‘digital gold’.

Rosenblum continued: “Our Gold/Bitcoin pair provides a means to trade between the old and the new stores of value, making Gold/BTC an extremely special and interesting combination.

With today’s new additions, eToroX has added a total of 96 trading pairs since its inception in April this year, and currently offers seventeen eToroX stablecoins in addition to USDC and USDT.

The pairs include: USDEX/ZARX, ZARX/JPYX, EURX/PLNX, USDEX/PLNXUSDEX/HKDXUSDEX/TRYXUSDEX/SGDXETH-USDTXRP-USDTLTC-USDTBCH-USDTXLM-USDTEOS-USDTTRX-USDTBTC-USDCETH-USDCXRP-USDCLTC-USDCBCH-USDCXLM-USDCEOS-USDC, and TRX-USDC.

As eToroX continues to open up the world of trading on the blockchain, more trading pairs will be announced. eToroX will also be adding additional cryptoassets and stablecoins to the exchange in the coming months.

 

SOURCE eToro

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Ucommune Hosts 4th World INS Conference in Beijing, Releases Future Trends White Paper

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Ucommune Releases Future Trends White Paper

 

Ucommune, China’s largest co-working community operator, recently hosted the 4th World INS Conference in Beijing, China. Designed to facilitate information exchange and cooperation in the innovation economy, this year’s conference brought together thousands of entrepreneurs and thought leaders around the theme “The Future of Co-inventing”, echoing Ucommune’s three core values, “Innovation, Network and Share”.

The conference welcomed over 50 experts, scholars, industry leaders, investment institutions, entrepreneurial innovators to discuss a range of trending topics spanning from smart living solutions to innovation and business growth.

“As China’s largest co-working operator, it is our responsibility to connect people and facilitate the exchange of ideas to drive innovation,” said Dr Daqing Mao, Founder and Chairman of Ucommune. “Now in its fourth year, the INS World Conference brings together the most brilliant minds from across the country to create and share. Enriched with the spirit of innovation, sharing and connection, this conference looks at how future technology trends, creative ideas and cultural developments are transforming our daily life and work.”

During the conference, Ucommune announced the findings of their annual “The Future of Co-inventing: Report on Future Trends in 2019” white paper, providing valuable academic insights for data analysts, economic observers and political researchers. The 96-page report includes data from 76 data sets and ten cities to examine how artificial intelligence will shape future homes, public spaces, and businesses across nine scenarios and industries: blockchain technology; 6G; connected family healthcare systems; VR applications; autonomous driving and facial recognition.

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Neptune Reports Fiscal 2020 Second Quarter Results

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Photo source: publicwire.com

 

Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc. (“Neptune” or the “Corporation”) (NASDAQ: NEPT) (TSX: NEPT), today announced its financial and operating results for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019. All amounts are in thousands of Canadian dollars except specified otherwise.

Second Quarter Financial and Corporate Highlights:

  • Total revenues for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019 amounted to $6,512, representing an increase of $2,151 or 49% over the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 and a decrease of $559 or 8% compared to $7,071 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2018.
  • Revenues from the Cannabis segment reached $1,220, an increase of $1,182 sequentially from the three-month period ended June 30, 2019. Neptune started the commercial operations of its Cannabis segment in March 2019 and hence had no revenues in the prior year period ended September 30, 2018.
  • Revenues from the Nutraceutical segment for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019 amounted to $5,149, representing an increase of 20% sequentially, over the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 and a decrease of $1,922 or 27% compared to $7,071 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2018. The decrease in revenues was attributable to timing of orders of our nutrition business.
  • Net loss for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019 amounted to $20,775 compared to $3,050 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2018, an increase of $17,725. The increase is mainly attributable to an increase in stock-based compensation expense, depreciation and amortization and to accretion expense on contingent consideration combined with a lower Adjusted EBITDA1.
  • Adjusted EBITDA1 decreased by $3,353 for the three-month period ended September 30, 2019 to ($4,581) compared to the three-month period ended September 30, 2018. The decrease in Adjusted EBITDA1 is mainly attributable to investments made in the cannabis segment to grow the workforce in anticipation of increased sales volume as well as an increase in salaries and benefits at the corporate level.
  • On July 24, 2019, Neptune completed the acquisition of the assets of SugarLeaf. Neptune paid an initial consideration for SugarLeaf of $23.7 million (US$18.1 million), a combination of $15.8 million (US$12 million) in cash and 7.9 million (US$6.1 million) or 1,587,301 in common shares.
  • On August 14, 2019, Neptune announced the creation of Neptune Ventures, a strategic investment arm and technology incubator which is expected to stimulate innovation and partnerships in the cannabis and wellness industries.
  • On August 22, 2019, Neptune announced the addition of two new members to its team to support the company’s rapid growth. Neptune appointed Stephen Lijoi, as Vice-President Operations and José Dominguez as Cannabis Sommelier and Formulation Specialist.
  • In August 2019, Neptune appointed Mr. Philippe Trudeau to its Board of Directors. Mr. Trudeau is a visionary leader with extensive experience in consumer goods. Mr. Trudeau spent 25 years at Trudeau Corporation, a consumer products company marketed in more than 70 countries, where he held many key positions including president from 2010 to 2018.

Subsequent to Quarter-end

  • On October 4, 2019, Neptune announced a new strategic partnership with American Media LLC (“American Media”) which will provide US$12 million in advertising and creative services to Neptune to support the marketing and commercialization of Neptune’s consumer-facing brands in the U.S. Neptune will issue 3,000,000 warrants to AMI, each warrant allowing the holder to purchase one common share of Neptune at an exercise price of US$8.00 per share and with a 5-year expiration date.
  • On October 17, 2019, Neptune announced that it entered into an agreement to provide extraction services to a large U.S.-based farming services operation. Under the contract terms, Neptune will receive hemp biomass to be processed and transformed into crude oil extracts. The 2-year agreement could reach a total value in excess of US$20 million.
  • On October 17, 2019, the Corporation announced the appointment of Brett DuBose as Vice-President of Sales for the U.S. Region. Brett has more than 20 years of sales experience, most recently with Lonza Consumer Health and Nutrition where he was Associate Director Sales, for the Eastern U.S and Canada.
  • On November 11, 2019, Neptune announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. (NYSE: IFF) to co-develop hemp-derived CBD products for the mass retail and health & wellness markets. Under this strategic product development partnership, IFF will leverage its intellectual property (IP) for taste, scent, nutrition, and ingredients to provide essential oils and product development resources. Neptune will leverage its proprietary cold ethanol extraction processes and formulation IP to deliver high quality, full and broad-spectrum extracts for the development, manufacture and commercialization of hemp-derived products, infused with essential oils, for the cosmetics, personal care and home care markets. The initial launch will include a variety of topical products across the aromatherapy category, a market estimated at approximately $3 billion annually. Neptune will issue 2,000,000 warrants to IFF, each warrant allowing the holder to purchase one common share of Neptune at an exercise price of US $12.00 per share and with a 5-year expiration date.

“We have a strong opportunity in the consumer market, and in recent months I have been focused on developing our B2B and B2C strategy for the U.S. market. According to most estimates, the U.S. hemp-derived CBD market is expected to exceed US$20 billion at retail in the next five years. This market size is roughly three to four times larger than the expected size of the Canadian cannabis market and represents our largest opportunity today. The collaboration agreement with IFF and the American Media partnership will help raise the awareness of our CBD brand, Forest Remedies™. We expect to introduce our first consumer products at retail locations and online with rollout commencing in the first half of CY2020,” stated Michael Cammarata, CEO of Neptune.

“We achieved a significant milestone in mid October when we completed our Phase II capacity expansion. This additional capacity will alleviate our constraints in the near-term and help accelerate the company’s revenue growth in the cannabis segment. However, the start-up of our ethanol process has been longer than initially expected which has delayed the full ramp-up by one month to the end of December. With regards to our CO2 operations, we have been running seven days a week since the end of July and we are pleased with our yields and quality of extracts.” Said Stephen Lijoi, VP Operations.

“I believe we have created a very solid foundation to grow our company with a well capitalized balance sheet. Moreover, we are at an inflection point in terms of profitability. The dynamics of the legal cannabis and hemp extraction markets remain favorable with a scarcity of biomass extraction capacity in both Canada and the U.S., which should lead to continued sustained demand for our extraction services. We expect our revenue growth to accelerate for the remainder of the FY2020 based on the strong demand witnessed for extraction services. Lastly, we have a comprehensive strategy based on geographic diversification, and a wide scope of value-added services, as well as unique and distinctive products,” concluded Mr. Cammarata.

Financial Results

Total revenues reached $6,512 for the three-month ended September 30, 2019, down versus last year’s revenues of $7,071. The majority of the revenues during the quarter were generated in the Nutraceutical segment. The decline in total revenues was attributable to timing of orders of our nutrition business.

For the three-month ended September 30, 2019, Adjusted EBITDA1 was a loss of $4,581 compared with a loss of $1,228 last year. The increased Adjusted EBITDA1 loss is due to investments made in the cannabis segment to grow the workforce in anticipation of increased sales volume as well as an increase in salaries and benefits at the corporate level. The decrease can also be explained by an increase in litigation legal fees and additional SG&A coming from SugarLeaf.

Neptune reported a net loss of $20,775 for the three-month ended September 30, 2019, an increase compared to a net loss of $3,050 last year. The increase in net loss is mainly attributable to an increase in stock-based compensation expense, depreciation and amortization and accretion expense recognized on contingent consideration as well as for the same reasons as stated in the Adjusted EBITDA1 section above.

Cash and cash equivalents were $24,399 as of September 30, 2019.  On November 6, 2019, Neptune closed a revolving line of credit with a large Canadian financial institution for an amount of $5 million to support the nutraceutical segment.

Management Update

This summer Neptune initiated a search process to hire a new CFO. This process is well underway and the Corporation’s new CFO is expected to be announced in the coming months. Following the departure of Mario ParadisClaudie Lauzon has been appointed interim CFO of the Company. Ms. Lauzon is the Corporate Controller of Neptune and has been employed by the Corporation for 10 years.

Official Launch of the Forest Remedies Brand

Our CBD consumer brand, Forest Remedies™, was acquired along with the purchase of SugarLeaf Labs. Initially, Forest Remedies™ was used to gain consumer insights on CBD finished product forms. Since its beginning in the fall of 2018, the brand has gained traction locally. The increasing demand for high quality hemp-derived products has led Neptune to recently rebrand Forest Remedies™ to appeal to a wider audience. Forest Remedies™ offers finished products such as tinctures, balms, massage oils, soft gels, and pet soothers. Additional products are currently in development. Forest Remedies™ products will continue to be available online (www.forestremedies.com) and could enter mass market retailers in calendar 2020. With innovation and a focus on quality, Neptune is confident in its ability to successfully grow the Forest Remedies™ brand. The company will deploy a marketing campaign and will be launching a new online platform in early calendar 2020.

Research and Development Initiatives

Neptune is undergoing and/or planning 10 research and clinical studies to further elucidate the benefits of its MaxSimil omega-3 licensed technology. Among the several initiatives underway is a clinical study that is a follow-up on a successful nonclinical study to determine if MaxSimil fish oil, when used as a carrier oil, can increase the absorption of cannabinoids in humans. In another study Neptune will try to establish if our proprietary formulation of MaxSimil fish oil and CBD can help with occasional anxiety from everyday life events. We also have an upcoming clinical study which will look at the use of our proprietary formulation of MaxSimil fish oil and CBD for workout recovery to determine if athletes will benefit from its use. This builds on the findings of our mitochondrial activity and inflammation resolution studies. We have increased our clinical activity because of the benefits we see in combining our omega-3 formulations with cannabinoids and have increased the size of our R&D team accordingly.

Outlook

“We continue to see strong demand for extraction services in Canada. We have provided extraction services to five clients in Canada and expect to continue to diversify our client base in the coming months. While the ramp-up of our phase II ethanol extraction is slower than originally anticipated, once running at full capacity by the end of December, this custom-built specialized equipment should provide Neptune with low operational costs,” said Stephen Lijoi, VP Operations at Neptune.

The construction of our Phase IIIa is ongoing and is being adapted to our customers’ needs and changes in the Canadian Federal and Provincial regulatory requirements for Cannabis 2.0. This process is expected to be completed before fiscal year-end, subject to Health Canada approval. The expansion of our packaging capabilities is tracking as planned along with the installation of security measures for our warehouse to comply with Health Canada’s requirements. We expect to send a license amendment to Health Canada for the certification of those areas early in calendar 2020.

The next few months will be very active at Neptune. We have several projects ongoing in Canada such as obtaining our organic certification, applying for our sales license and further down the road, seeking our EU GMP certification. These future catalysts should help the company accelerate its revenue growth in Canada.

Our U.S. operations are scaling up as planned and our facility in North Carolina should reach a processing capacity of 1,500,000 kg of biomass annually by the end of December, as expected. The recent changes implemented by the USDA are expected to increase the cultivation of hemp in the US and could translate into increased demand for biomass extraction in the coming years. The recent client wins are an endorsement of our ability to provide superior extraction services. Our talent pool continues to grow with the addition of key personnel such as a VP Sales – U.S. Region and a Head – Quality Assurance both of which should help support additional growth.

 

SOURCE Neptune Wellness Solutions Inc.

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