Seven leading mining and metals companies have partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to experiment, design and deploy blockchain solutions that will accelerate responsible sourcing and sustainability practices, the WEF reports.
The Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative will pool resources and cost, increase speed-to-market and improve industry-wide trust that cannot be achieved by acting individually, according to the forum.
“It aims to be a neutral enabler for the industry, addressing the lack of standardisation and improving efficiency,” WEF said, adding that the intention was to send out a signal of inclusivity and collaboration across the industry.
Among the seven companies represented in this initiative are Antofagasta Minerals, Eurasian Resources Group, Glencore, Tata Steel Limited, De Beers and Anglo American.
The group will look to develop joint proof-of-concepts for an inclusive blockchain platform, which, over time, could help the industry collectively increase “transparency, efficiency or improve reporting of carbon emissions”, it said.
The WEF explained: “In many cases, blockchain projects to support responsible sourcing have been bilateral. The result has been a fractured system that leaves behind parts of the ecosystem and lacks interoperability.”
The new initiative is owned and driven by the industry, for the industry, according to the WEF, with members examining issues related to governance, developing case studies and establishing a working group. Key areas of collaboration and development could include carbon emissions tracking and supply chain transparency.
“They will work 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,” it said.
Jörgen Sandström, Head of the Mining and Metals Industry at the WEF, said material value chains are undergoing profound change and disruption. “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.”
The WEF has offered its platform and expertise to help industry leaders better understand the impact and potential of blockchain technology, it said. “It will provide guidance on governance issues related to the delivery of a neutral industry platform and the expansion of members.”
The move was welcomed by industry partners, including Juan Luis Kruger, CEO of Minsur: “Since minerals and metals are elements that can, and should, be recycled many times, tracing a product’s true origin quickly becomes complex. Blockchain among other applications, has the potential to solve numerous challenges for sustainability certification and dramatically increase supply chain transparency and efficiencies.”