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Mining & Metals Companies To Use Blockchain For Sustainability Practices

Seven leading mining and metals companies have partnered with the World Economic Forum to experiment, design and deploy blockchain solutions that will accelerate responsible sourcing and sustainability practices.

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. It aims to be a neutral enabler for the industry, addressing the lack of standardization and improving efficiency. The intention is to send out a signal of inclusivity and collaboration across the industry. The group will look to develop joint proof-of-concepts for an inclusive blockchain platform. Over time, this could help the industry collectively increase transparency, efficiency or improve reporting of carbon emissions.

“As a responsible player in the mining and metals industry, we are committed to build a sustainable future,” said T.V. Narendran, CEO of Tata Steel Limited. “We believe enhanced collaboration across the industry to facilitate collective action, leveraging technology to reduce emissions, and conserving the environment is imperative and critical in our journey towards attaining a carbon-neutral future.”

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. This new initiative is owned and driven by the industry, for the industry. Members will examine issues related to governance, develop case studies and establish a working group.

“The distributed nature of blockchain technology makes it the ultimate networked technology,” said Nadia Hewett, Blockchain Project Lead, World Economic Forum. “Forward-thinking organizations are starting to understand the disruptive potential of blockchain to solve pain points, but are now also recognizing that industry-wide collaboration around blockchain is necessary.”

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 standardization and to track provenance, chain of custody and production methods.

“Material value chains are undergoing profound change and disruption”, said Jörgen Sandström, Head of the Mining and Metals Industry, World Economic Forum. “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 World Economic Forum has offered its platform and expertise to help industry leaders better understand the impact and potential of blockchain technology. It will provide guidance on governance issues related to the delivery of a neutral industry platform and the expansion of members.

“The mining and metals industries produce the commodities required to advance everyday life,” said Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore International AG. “We welcome the development of technology that can facilitate industry reporting to improve compliance across the supply chain.”

Competitors within the same industry who research and experiment with blockchain or distributed ledger technology are increasingly exploring consortium formation to accelerate and strengthen blockchain technology knowledge and potential research and development. This trend is reflected in the Deloitte Global Blockchain survey published in May, where the overwhelming majority (92 percent) of respondents say they either belong to a consortium or plan to join one in the next 12 months.

“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”, said Ivan Arriagada, CEO of Antofagasta Minerals.

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