Minespider, a blockchain protocol for responsible mineral tracking, and LuNa Smelter, a responsible tin producer in Kigali, Rwanda, have partnered to implement Minespider’s OreSource tool, starting this month.
OreSource, which is being developed under the grant awarded to Minespider by EIT Raw Materials earlier this year, is a blockchain-based due diligence tool for mines and smelters, helping them to capture key information that European Union importers require to comply with the new EU Conflict Mineral Regulation, coming into force in January 2021.
Smelters upload the data required into a digital blockchain certificate and, by affixing a QR code to a mineral shipment, or to an invoice, the recipients of the materials receive all the data they need to ensure their compliance with the EU regulation, secured on Minespider’s public blockchain protocol.
LuNa is the first Responsible Minerals Assurance Process conformant tin smelter in Africa, producing high-quality tin ingots and other minerals recovered from the refining process, such as tantalum concentrate, Minespider says. The ore is partially procured from LuNa’s own operational sites, as well as third parties who are compliant with LuNa’s strict internal environmental and social standards.
LuNa Smelter will pilot OreSource in Rwanda, together with the support and guidance of the Responsible Minerals Initiative and Rwandan Mines, Petroleum, and Gas Board (RMB).
“The industry is still unsure about how to comply with the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation,” Olena Wiaderna, Director of Sustainability and Supply Chain Due Diligence at LuNa Smelter, said. “OreSource will give us a tool to provide the information that is required, and help European importers collect the required data.”
RMB sees the project as an important step in redesigning the mining industry and transforming mining resources into key drivers of the country’s growth, according to Minespider.
“The board has already deployed different due diligence measures, including the development of tag managers at mining sites to seal and track the minerals extracted,” Minespider added. “This maintains the transparency of the supply chains and reduces the risk of potential illegal trade in minerals.”
RMB believes that this digital identification of minerals may offer upstream companies more direct compensation in exchange for demonstrating responsible mining practices, while optimising the actual cost.
Francis Gatare, the CEO of RMB, said: “This comes as a confirmation to what we have always known: Rwanda is a conflict-free source of minerals, and, by LuNa Smelter pioneering blockchain in minerals tracking in Rwanda, we’re taking another big step forward for the Rwandan mining sector.”
Google will provide input and offer industry expertise to ensure OreSource is aligned with importer and manufacturer requirements, Minespider said.
The pair have previously implemented a traceability project, tracking tin from the mine to the end user, along with other consortium members such as Volkswagen, and the Peruvian mining company Minsur.
“The cooperation with LuNa Smelter and Minespider will further Google’s engagement in responsible sourcing practices for 3TGs in the Great Lakes region,” Minespider said.
Nathan Williams, Minespider’s CEO, explained: “Historically, companies like LuNa Smelter, who pioneer responsible sourcing in exceptionally challenging environments, have been at a disadvantage. Their due diligence incurs costs that are not reflected in the world market’s metal prices. OreSource gives such companies the opportunity to stand out, and to provide their customers due diligence information as an additional service.”