Tag Archives: Benedikt Sobotka

Metal and mining companies collaborate with WEF on blockchain solutions

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 Ivan Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta Minerals: “We hope this collaboration and pilot will give us practical examples of how blockchain can increase efficiency of the supply chain management and improve interoperability; address certain supply chain management risks such as transparency and consumer trust; and unlock opportunities including integration of key data such on environmental impact such carbon emissions.”

Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group, meanwhile, said the collaboration around blockchain technology would help industry efforts to enhance responsible sourcing. “By working together, our goal is to develop solutions that can be adopted across the industry and value chain,” he added.

Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, said the development of this technology can facilitate industry reporting to improve compliance across the supply chain.

TV Narendran, CEO of Tata Steel, said: “As a responsible player in the mining and metals industry, we are committed to build a sustainable future.”

Jim Duffy, CEO of Tracr (representing Anglo American/De Beers), said the company looked forward to collaborating with the consortium as Tracr begins to roll-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 added.

ERG trials IBM Blockchain Platform to support Clean Cobalt Framework

Eurasian Resources Group says it will pilot a blockchain-based solution built on the IBM Blockchain Platform at its Metalkol RTR operation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help enhance the provenance and traceability of cobalt in the metal’s supply chain.

Metalkol RTR is ERG’s hydrometallurgical plant in the DRC and has a target capacity of 24,000 t/y of cobalt.

ERG said: “While cobalt and other metals such as copper, nickel and lithium drive the global battery sector, their extraction may come at high cost for the surrounding ecosystem, including the use of child labour and pollution which is compounded by the current dearth of viable reuse and recycling systems. The blockchain-based solution helps to ensure that the material is traceable.”

The blockchain supports ERG’s Clean Cobalt Framework at Metalkol RTR, a reprocessing plant for historic copper and cobalt tailings from previous mining operations, which is nearing operation, according to ERG.

Niels de Jongh, Executive Partner IBM Global Business Services, said: “ERG’s initiative to implement a blockchain solution to bring together stakeholders across the cobalt supply chain can help transform entire business processes in the mining industry and help bring new levels of trust. Leveraging IBM’s digital capabilities enables parties to develop the solution through an interactive approach with clear business focus.”

Benedikt Sobotka, CEO of Eurasian Resources Group and co-chair of the Global Battery Alliance, said: “This blockchain-based solution will aim to enable manufacturers to confirm that the cobalt was sourced at Metalkol RTR by aggregating the necessary data and information on the raw material.”

Leveraging IBM’s blockchain platform and expertise, the platform will aim to determine the provenance of cobalt throughout the supply chain, from extraction to production, a process that is currently complex and costly. Using blockchain will allow individuals to track the origins of cobalt across the supply chain, including once it’s been to a smelter and blended, and reduce costs through efficient information sharing, tracking and transparency according to the highest standards.

Sobotka added: “As a founding member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Battery Alliance, ERG aims to create new standards in the industry. We are therefore pleased to be piloting this innovative blockchain-based solution on the IBM platform. This way we can guarantee with certainty that the material that customers buy is not tainted by artisanally-produced material.”

Last week, MineHub Technologies and IBM announced a collaboration to use blockchain technology to help improve operational efficiencies, logistics and financing and reduce costs in the high-value mineral concentrates supply chain — from mine to end buyer. Goldcorp, ING Bank, Kutcho Copper, Ocean Partners and Wheaton Precious Metals are working with MineHub to build the new mining supply chain solution on top of the IBM Blockchain Platform.