CERA blockchain certification program to track raw material sustainability credentials

DMT GmbH & Co has announced the launch of CERA, the first global certification scheme to guarantee a consistent standard of environmental, social and economic impact throughout the entire raw materials value chain, it says. CERA will begin pilot projects focusing on the mining and exploration of lithium and cobalt in late 2019.

Currently, at least 40 different certification schemes exist for mining activity alone, according to DMT. This increases exponentially when considering the entire value chain, with some certificates specific to a single geography, process or humanitarian concern, and others to a single mineral.

“Existing certification processes are complex, expensive and inconsistent, resulting in a porous and diffuse approach to how sustainability and ethics are defined from country to country, mineral to mineral, and company to company,” DMT says.

“The CERA certification program has solved this global industry-wide issue with the development of a new universal standard, providing an affordable and consistent evaluation of environmental, social and economic sustainability along the entire raw materials value chain.”

CERA has also created the first definition of sustainability valid for all materials and manufacturing processes, meaning the CERA standard will be applicable at every stage of the value chain from mineral exploration to the final product, and covering every raw material, across every country, under a single scheme, following a formal launch in 2020, it said.

CERA will also use blockchain technology to enable the traceability of raw materials along the entire value chain for the first time, it said.

Using a proprietary hybrid database, CERA will create a public ledger where CERA certification can be viewed and verified. “CERA has chosen to use blockchain technology to ensure greatest accuracy and security of information throughout the raw materials value chain, it said.

CERA has been in development since 2015, led by DMT, an independent engineering and consulting company headquartered in Germany, and received financial support from EIT RawMaterials.

CERA’s Advisory Board includes: Volkswagen, Fairphone, Euromines, University of Southern Denmark, United Nations ECE and the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC). Additional Advisory Board members will be announced in 2020.

Dr Andreas Hucke, CERA Project Director, Head of Raw Materials Sustainability, DMT, said: “CERA solves the problem of complexity and inconsistency of sustainability standards in raw materials. We are proud to have developed the most comprehensive certification scheme in existence and of the positive ethical, environmental and sustainability impact to which CERA will contribute.” 

CERA’s Project Team has been drawn from some of Europe’s leading raw materials research institutions and technical service providers, including: Leiden University in Netherlands, University of Leoben in Austria, Luleå University of Technology, Research Institutes of Sweden, TÜV NORD CERT GmbH and DMT.

CERA aims to streamline and simplify the method through which sustainability is defined and guaranteed throughout the entire value chain. To do so, CERA has created four separate evaluation certificates, each tailored to a specific stage of the value chain.

Formal CERA pilot projects addressing sustainability in the exploration, extraction and processing of lithium and cobalt will commence in late 2019. CERA will also be identifying pilot project partners for Chain of Custody, set to begin in 2020. CERA will welcome candidate applications from 2020 and issue first certificates in 2021.