Until now, responsible mineral sourcing has been an ‘optional extra.’ It was something that companies could adopt to increase their overall reputation and gain creditability within their sector. Now, it’s no longer a choice. Companies must trace their supply chains and ensure responsible mining or face the consequences.
As regulatory bodies move towards compulsory governance – especially in conflict areas and in relation to minerals such as cobalt and 3TGs – companies are being forced into ensuring they are sourcing responsibly.
The time to implement responsible mineral sourcing is now
As responsible sourcing becomes a necessity, many companies may be taken by surprise. The issue is not necessarily that companies are actively trying to source from conflict areas – rather, many companies simply don’t know where they’re sourcing from.
This is because mineral supply chains are so extensive that many companies simply can’t keep track of the entire chain.
This means that, to ensure responsible sourcing, companies will need to implement nascent technologies. This can mean anything from artificial intelligence to blockchain technology. These enable smart data tracking across the entire supply chain.
Data tracking and image identification allows us to ensure that mineral sourcing is ethical, sustainable, and traceable across the supply chain. We need to ensure that mineral sourcing across the entire supply chain is transparent.
How we can solve the responsible mineral sourcing problem
There are a myriad of ways we can abolish unethical sourcing in our supply chains. The core of these methods is ensuring reliable tracking. If you can track your vendors across the entire supply chain, then you can ensure that the minerals you are sourcing come from responsible and ethical places.
Technologies you can implement include:
We often refer to blockchain as the ‘solution’ to responsible mineral sourcing. This isn’t necessarily true. While it can’t solve supply chain transparency on its own, blockchain does have immense potential for backing supply chain tracking platforms.
Blockchain allows us to know that data hasn’t been altered or deleted. It all provides traceability across the entire supply chain because of its decentralised and immutable nature.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
Artificial intelligence can provide us forecasting and analysis across the supply chain. AI can identify any abnormalities in the supply chain and potentially pinpoint occasions of unethical supply chain practices.
Automation deals with the responsible mineral sourcing problem in a different way. While we don’t want to remove the human from the mineral sourcing (as many communities rely directly on the income from mining wages), we can bring automated machines in to mine in dangerous situations.
In some cases, workers are subjected to dangerous situations that can result in injury or death. By implementing automated machines, companies can ensure that their supply chains do not include child labour or unethical sourcing.
Responsible mineral sourcing is no longer a choice for companies. Instead, it is now a necessity. Regulatory bodies are already stepping up their requirements on unethical mineral sourcing and traceability across entire supply chains.
By implementing nascent technologies, we can ensure that companies have comprehensive visibility over their supply chains, save costs and protect the vulnerable workers that are part of them.
Blockhead Technologies has created STAMP Supply, a blockchain-backed supply chain tracking platform that allows you to track and analyse your supply chain data. You can find out more about STAMP Supply here or contact us here for more information or a demo.