MADISON, Wis. — Foxconn Technology Group announced Friday it was buying a six-story office building across the street from Wisconsin’s state capitol to house an off-campus research centre it will run as part of a partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.The purchase is the latest in a string of buildings Foxconn has acquired in Racine, Green Bay, Milwaukee and Eau Claire as it expands its reach across Wisconsin beyond its massive campus in the southeast part of the state.The Taiwanese-based company is the world’s largest electronics provider, with Apple, Google and Amazon all as customers. Foxconn has said it will build a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin to make liquid crystal display screens for cellphones, tablets, televisions and other devices.Foxconn has said that campus will employ 13,000 people and cost $10 billion, which would net the company about $4.5 billion in state and local tax credits. Construction of the manufacturing facility was to begin this year and is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2020.But critics of the deal, struck with the help of President Donald Trump who came for a groundbreaking ceremony, have questioned whether Foxconn will follow through as promised.Speaking to an audience that included officials with Gov. Tony Evers’ administration, the president of the University of Wisconsin System and other business and government leaders in Wisconsin, Foxconn’s Alan Yeung addressed concerns about its plans for the Madison building.“Foxconn will be a good neighbour and I can also assure you that building will not be an empty building,” Yeung said to a smattering of nervous laughs.Yeung, a UW graduate and Foxconn’s director of U.S. strategic initiatives, later told reporters the buildings have to be “adequate and well-equipped” before workers move in.“We don’t actually make an effort to acquire buildings to leave them empty,” he said. “We do have a plan.”Yeung would not say how many people he expected would be working at the Madison office, dubbed Foxconn Place, but said it would be “sizable.” He said Foxconn would have employees there by the end of the year.Foxconn and UW-Madison last summer announced a collaboration under which Foxconn promised to invest $100 million in engineering and innovation research, if the university came up with an equal amount. Part of that deal including constructing a new College of Engineering building and also having an off-campus site, which would be the building across from the Capitol.Foxconn said UW-Madison students along with staff, faculty and researchers would collaborate to support research and development initiatives in various areas, including medicine and computer and data sciences.BMO Harris Bank owns the six-story building Foxconn was buying and operates a branch on the main level that will remain along with its roughly 100 employees.Yeung and BMO Harrison U.S. CEO David Casper declined to discuss terms of the sale, including how much Foxconn paid and how much space in the 55,000-square-foot building it would occupy. City records put the value of the property at about $5 million.The sale has not closed yet, but Yeung and Casper both said it was imminent.Foxconn has also purchased a building in Milwaukee for its North American headquarters and buildings in Green Bay, Eau Claire and Racine for innovation centres.___Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAPScott Bauer, The Associated Press
Eurasian Resources Group says it will pilot a blockchain-based solution built on the IBM Blockchain Platform at its Metalkol RTR operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help enhance the provenance and traceability of cobalt in the metal’s supply chain.Metalkol RTR is ERG’s hydrometallurgical plant in the DRC and has a target capacity of 24,000 t/y of cobalt.ERG said: “While cobalt and other metals such as copper, nickel and lithium drive the global battery sector, their extraction may come at high cost for the surrounding ecosystem, including the use of child labour and pollution which is compounded by the current dearth of viable reuse and recycling systems. The blockchain-based solution helps to ensure that the material is traceable.”The blockchain supports ERG’s Clean Cobalt Framework at Metalkol RTR, a reprocessing plant for historic copper and cobalt tailings from previous mining operations, which is nearing operation, according to ERG.Niels de Jongh, Executive Partner IBM Global Business Services, said: “ERG’s initiative to implement a blockchain solution to bring together stakeholders across the cobalt supply chain can help transform entire business processes in the mining industry and help bring new levels of trust. Leveraging IBM’s digital capabilities enables parties to develop the solution through an interactive approach with clear business focus.”Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group and co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance, said: “This blockchain-based solution will aim to enable manufacturers to confirm that the cobalt was sourced at Metalkol RTR by aggregating the necessary data and information on the raw material.”Leveraging IBM’s blockchain platform and expertise, the platform will aim to determine the provenance of cobalt throughout the supply chain, from extraction to production, a process that is currently complex and costly. Using blockchain will allow individuals to track the origins of cobalt across the supply chain, including once it’s been to a smelter and blended, and reduce costs through efficient information sharing, tracking and transparency according to the highest standards.Sobotka added: “As a founding member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance, ERG aims to create new standards in the industry. We are therefore pleased to be piloting this innovative blockchain-based solution on the IBM platform. This way we can guarantee with certainty that the material that customers buy is not tainted by artisanally-produced material.”Last week, MineHub Technologies and IBM announced a collaboration to use blockchain technology to help improve operational efficiencies, logistics and financing and reduce costs in the high-value mineral concentrates supply chain — from mine to end buyer. Goldcorp, ING Bank, Kutcho Copper, Ocean Partners and Wheaton Precious Metals are working with MineHub to build the new mining supply chain solution on top of the IBM Blockchain Platform.