Tag Archives: Nathan Williams

Minespider to provide responsible mineral tracking for LuNa Smelter

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.”

Minespider wins EIT Raw Materials funding for supply chain transparency app

Minespider, a blockchain protocol for responsible mineral tracking, has been awarded a grant of over €180,000 ($213,732) from the EIT Raw Materials Booster Programme.

The program aims to support start-ups and SMEs in creating innovative products and services that will positively impact the raw materials sector, according to Minespider.

The grant will help Minespider develop OreSource, a due diligence product that helps mines and smelters capture key information that importers in the European Union need to comply with EU Conflict Mineral Regulation. The regulation, which comes into force in January 2021, requires EU importers of 3TG (tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold) to perform due diligence to determine whether their material comes from a conflict affected or high-risk area.

Minespider Founder and CEO, Nathan Williams, said: “European importers need to have better access to data to operate in this new regulatory environment. They require certain data to be included with the materials they purchase.”

The OreSource product extends the capabilities of Minespider’s open, public blockchain protocol, which allows companies to track their raw material shipments, demonstrating where the materials come from and the conditions under which they were produced, the company says. This blockchain creates digital certificates that separate data into three different layers, depending on whether the data should be publicly visible, transparent between members of the same supply chain, or private between a company and their customer.

“This allows their clients, including Volkswagen and Google, to share sensitive transparency information with their customers and other supply chain participants securely,” Minespider says.

The OreSource app allows mines and smelters to provide information to distinguish their products from the rest of the market. Mines and smelters who use the app upload key data such as bills of lading, invoices, company policies, and third-party certifications, which are assembled into a digital certificate and linked along the supply chain.

By affixing a QR code to a mineral shipment, or on an invoice, the recipients of the materials have all the data they need to ensure their compliance with the EU regulation, secured on Minespider’s public blockchain protocol, the company claims.

Williams continued: “Responsible producers are often at a disadvantage in the global market. OreSource is a solid first step toward making responsibly sourced material the norm instead of the exception.”

Companies importing material into Europe benefit from this information, as they have all they need to conduct due diligence. “This means they can view transport routes, analyse production site responsibility, and demonstrate a chain of custody for their raw materials,” Minespider says.

OreSource will also offer analytical tools that allow material importers to identify potential conflict areas and other red flags, the company says, enabling them to ask further questions when needed and ensure all of their imports have been sourced responsibly.

Williams concluded: “The EU and other government agencies are spearheading a new global era of sustainable sourcing. OreSource will support these efforts by ensuring that key data from mineral producers is captured in a transparent manner, and communicated along the supply chain. We are moving away from a world of anonymous commodities, to one of trusted products.”

Minespider looks to scale blockchain platform following fundraising

Minespider says it has raised a total of €2.8 million ($3.05 million) to continue developing its open blockchain protocol for supply chain tracking.

The money came from combined sources, including the EU Commission’s H2020’s SME Instrument Phase 2 program.

Minespider Founder and CEO, Nathan Williams, called the successful fundraising “an immense step forward” for the company and its “vision of a future where supply chains are transparent and sustainable”.

Minespider is an open blockchain protocol founded in 2018. As a team of 10, Minespider is based in Berlin, Germany, with operations in both Switzerland and Brazil. Its platform allows companies to create digital passports for their raw materials that keep track of where the materials come from and the conditions under which they were produced. The passports contain data that allows companies to verify that the materials they receive were produced in environmentally and socially sustainable ways, according to Minespider.

“Minespider passports separate data into three different layers, depending on whether the data should be publicly visible, visible to members of the same supply chain, or private between a company and their customer,” the company explained. “This allows companies to share sensitive transparency information with their customers and others further down the supply chain securely.”

Minespider makes this possible without a single trusted company running the system, using an advanced encryption system. This means that companies using Minespider retain total control over their own data.

Since its founding, Minespider has launched several traceability projects with industry players.

In 2018, Minespider partnered with Google to create a multi-stakeholder end-to-end mineral traceability consortium for the tin supply chain. The project formally commenced in 2019, with the addition of Cisco, SGS, Volkswagen, and Peru mining company Minsur (pictured at the San Rafael tin mine here), and has successfully tracked tin end-to-end and is now planning to incorporate new members.

In spring 2019, Minespider announced a joint project with Volkswagen to track its lead battery supply chain. This ongoing circular economy project involves two-thirds of the company’s global lead supply, according to the company. “Volkswagen intends this as a first step to employ blockchain technology for additional raw materials and supply chains,” the company said.

Williams added: “It has been an amazing experience to bring together so many industry leaders to work together on traceability. Now, with the backing of the European Commission and our investors we can scale the platform, bringing on many more participants who believe in the vision of transparent and responsible products.”

Part of funding came from the Horizon 2020 programme, where the European Commission selects potentially disruptive businesses to invest in and support as part of the SME Instrument. Minespider says it was chosen as a highly innovative SME and awarded ‘Very Good to Excellent (4.5 – 5)’ for all three key assessment criteria.

Williams said: “This funding shows how ready the EU Commission is to invest in these emerging and future technologies.”

Volkswagen signs up blockchain specialist Minespider to track lead supply

Beginning in April, Minespider says it is to partner with Volkswagen in an initial pilot focusing on tracking the carmaker’s lead supply, working with suppliers and sub-suppliers accounting for more than two-thirds of the group’s total lead starter battery requirements.

Volkswagen’s ultimate aim, according to the blockchain specialist, is to ensure all of its raw materials are sourced in a socially and environmentally sound manner.

“In the automotive sector, like in many other industries, supply chain transparency is a major issue, and to ensure sustainable mobility, responsible procurement is essential,” Minespider said. “Minespider and Volkswagen are working together to make procurement both more transparent and secure. Blockchain allows participants to trace the supply chain from the point of origin to the factory.”

Marco Philippi, Head of Strategy for Volkswagen Group Procurement, said sustainability in the supply chain is one of the company’s top priorities. “We see blockchain technology as part of the solution to ensure compliance with environmental and social standards along the entire supply chain,” he said.

Minespider is an open source, public blockchain protocol that offers stakeholders the opportunity to track the origin of their raw materials and present a complete chain of custody from certified mine to end manufacturer, according to the company. It was originally founded to address increasing global conflict mineral legislation, including the Dodd-Frank Act Section 1502 and the EU’s Conflict Minerals Regulation, which require companies to know who is supplying their gold, tin, tantalum, and tungsten.

“With industry interest turning toward increased transparency, the Minespider team are also launching initiatives into other key materials,” the company said. “The public protocol approach is a departure from previous supply chain tracking initiatives that used private, permissioned blockchains. This avoids the risk of a large player with a private blockchain creating a monopoly on the global mineral supply chain. By using a token-driven design, they provide the mechanism for decentralising protocol governance.”

Minespider’s Founder, Nathan Williams (pictured), said: “Ultimately, we would like to see an industry-wide transformation, a public protocol that any responsible supplier can join.”

Minespider’s protocol uses nested encryption to ensure a company’s data remains private on a public blockchain, it says. Digital “certificates” are created at certified mineral sources, such as mines or recyclers, which are then encrypted with the company’s public key and posted in a publicly accessible database.

As mineral shipments are sold, responsibility data of the new owner is added to the certificate which is re-encrypted with the public key of the new owner, creating a layered encryption like a “Russian doll”, Minespider says. “This ensures that only the owner is able to access the supply chain data, even though it is in a verifiable, immutable public data store, enabling supply chain transparency without sacrificing data security.”