The term mining is often used in the cryptocurrency industry to refer to the process of collectively creating digital currencies, but there are contexts in which companies are adopting blockchain technology infrastructure to manage multiple physical mining supply chains.
The Russian company Norilsk Nickel – the world’s largest producer of high-quality palladium and nickel and a major producer of platinum and copper – has joined an initiative called the Blockchain Network, which is responsible for sourcing, according to an announcement published on January 14.
Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, or RSBN, is the result of an initiative by Global Source Auditing and the RCS Global Advisory Group. RSBN is built on the IBM Blockchain platform and managed by Hyperledger Fabric with the aim of increasing transparency, traceability and validating sustainable practices in the metals industry.
To join RSBN, companies must be assessed – initially and every year thereafter – in accordance with the framework set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or the OECD. These requirements are defined in the Guidelines for Due Diligence of Responsible Mineral Supply Chains from Conflict and High-Risk Areas.
RCS Global Group also evaluates participating companies against procurement standards set by an industry body known as the Responsible Minerals Initiative or RMI. As a member of RSBN, many of Norilsk Nickel’s supply chains will be audited across the entire business, from mines in Russia to refineries, both domestically and in Finland. This revision will be tracked on the RSBN platform and will provide an overview of sustainable nickel and cobalt production, as well as service and source information.
Norilsk Nickel’s participation in RSBN is part of the company’s broader digital strategy, which aims to make the supply chain more “customer-centric”. This appears to indicate greater transparency and assurances about sustainable practices, and also creates opportunities for Norilsk Nickel’s partners to track the flow of goods “in near real time.”
To achieve this second goal, Norilsk Nickel also uses a platform called Atomyze, which encodes physical assets. Like RSBN, Atomyze uses Hyperledger with contributions from IBM.
Prior to Norilsk Nickel, UK-Swiss trading and mining company Glencore joined RSBN at the end of 2019, shortly after the World Economic Forum launched the “Blockchain Initiative for the Mining and Metals Industry”, which aims to promote responsible purchasing and sustainable practices in the global industry.