Mining, metals companies partner with WEF on responsible sourcing

Seven mining and metals companies have partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to support the responsible sourcing of raw materials using blockchain technology.

The Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative was founded by diversified miners Antofagasta Minerals, Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) and Glencore; Tracr, on behalf of Anglo American and its subsidiary De Beers; base metals miner Minsure; and steel companies Klöckner & Co and Tata Steel.

The initiative will explore the building of a blockchain platform to address transparency, the tracking and tracing of materials and the reporting of carbon emissions.

The Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative will pool resources and costs, increase speed-to-market and improve industry-wide trust that cannot be achieved by acting individually.

“It aims to be a neutral enabler for the industry, addressing the lack of standardisation and improving efficiency. The intention is to send out a signal of inclusivity and collaboration across the industry.

“The group will look to develop joint proof-of-concepts for an inclusive blockchain platform. Over time, this could help the industry collectively increase transparency, efficiency or improve reporting of carbon emissions,” the WEF said in a release on Friday.

The forum further stated that blockchain projects that support responsible sourcing had mainly been bilateral.

The result has been a fractured system that leaves behind parts of the ecosystem and lacks interoperability. This new initiative is owned and driven by the industry, for the industry.

Members will examine issues related to governance, develop case studies and establish a working group.

Key areas of collaboration and development could include carbon emissions tracking and supply chain transparency. The companies will work together to use blockchain technology to increase trust between upstream and downstream partners, to address the lack of industry standardisation and to track provenance, chain of custody and production methods.

“The industry needs to respond to the increasing demands of minerals and materials while responding to increasing demands by consumers, shareholders and regulators for a higher degree of sustainability and traceability of the products,” said WEF mining and metals industry head Jörgen Sandström.

Antofagasta CEO Ivan Arriagada commented that the collaboration and pilot would provide practical examples of how blockchain could increase efficiency in supply chain management and improve interoperability, while addressing certain supply chain risks such as transparency and consumer trust.

ERG CEO Benedikt Sobotka noted that the initiative responded to a cross-industry desire to collaborate on blockchain technology to enhance responsible sourcing, and that the goal was to develop solutions that could be adopted across the industry and value chain.

Tata Steel CEO TV Narendran said as a responsible player in the mining and metals industry, “we are committed to build a sustainable future. We believe enhanced collaboration across the industry to facilitate collective action, leverage technology to reduce emissions & conserve the environment is imperative and critical in our journey towards attaining a carbon-neutral future”.

Representing Anglo and De Beers, Tracr CEO Jim Duffy stated that the company looked forward to collaborating with the consortium as Tracr rolled out its connected supply chain platform for the diamond industry.

“Lessons learned creating Tracr are highly relevant to the sustainable sourcing of all mining and metals,” he noted.

WEF blockchain project lead Nadia Hewett pointed out that the distributed nature of blockchain technology made it the ultimate networked technology.

“Forward-thinking organisations are starting to understand the disruptive potential of blockchain to solve pain points, but are now also recognising that industry-wide collaboration around blockchain is necessary,” she said.