Responsible sourcing is vital in mining. Luckily, blockchain is making it a whole lot easier.

If you’ve been keeping up with the news in the last two years, you’ve probably heard the word “blockchain.” You might be asking yourself: What actually is blockchain, and what does it have to do with mining? Why should I care?

What is blockchain?

Blockchain provides a way to ensure “end-to-end” transparency within the supply chain. A blockchain consists of valid transactions. Each block interconnects in a chain. No single person controls the blockchain.

Blockchain is permanent. It’s decentralised. It’s tamper-proof.

Because of this, blockchain is becoming more popular. The mining, banking, voting and food sectors are exploring it for their business processes.

In 2016 alone, around 1.4 billion dollars were allegedly invested globally in blockchain. According to a report released by Accenture in 2016, 9 out of 10 major north American and European banks are exploring the benefits of blockchain. Its popularity is undeniable.

Because information is permanent and resistant to change and deletion, blockchain could be transformative in metals and mining.

Ethical mining practice

Recently, ethics in mining has drawn increasing attention.

60 – 90% of world’s cobalt, for example, comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Consequently, the DRC has a long history of child labour in their artisanal mines. In 2014, UNICEF estimated that 40,000 children could be working in the DRC’s south. The numbers are suspected to realistically be much higher.

Several big companies, including Apple and Samsung, have joined China’s Responsible Cobalt Initiative. Their goal is to implement more visibility into the supply chain. As a result of this surge of interest, the International Council on Mining & Metals (ICMM) and RCS Global released a report in 2017 on ways in which the Blockchain can validate the mining process.

It’s clear that there have been movements to ensure responsible sourcing. But the question is always: how? How do you trace your supply chain, beginning to end?

This is, essentially, where blockchain comes in. Blockchain tracks the mining process and protects against the deletion, change or omission of information.

With blockchain, it is difficult to delete or alter information. Any applied changes are therefore visible to all participants of the Blockchain through a journaling process.

How easy is it, really?

Blockchain isn’t faultless. That’s because it’s a new technology. It’s only come into popularity within the last ten years.

Implementing blockchain initially can take effort. It needs:

  • the co-operation of the supply chain
  • the transition, if necessary, from paper CoC system or traditional database

We’re making the process easier with STAMP™. STAMP uses blockchain technology to verify that all materials have been ethically sourced and mined. It also assures that every level of the supply chain has been closely monitored.

This means that both consumers and companies can easily ensure that their materials – whether it be cobalt, or any precious metal – are ethical and safe from fraud through the maintenance of a decentralised system. In short, we do the work so that you can sleep comfortably knowing the materials you source are sustainable, ethical and correct.

To find out more, click here.