How consumers are driving change in mineral supply chains

We are closer to minerals than we think.

The smartphones in our pockets are powered by them. So are many other key drivers of the clean tech transition such as electric vehicles.

There are signs of the increasing influence of the ethical consumer. We increasingly want to know the provenance of what we are consuming – whether that is food or technology.

This poses an interesting challenge for the big tech companies which are driving our clean tech transition. They need increasing quantities of minerals but, more and more, they are being asked by consumers and required by regulators to be doing the right thing  with regulation mandating carbon tracking in batteries in the EU.

A recent report the World Gold Council concluded that a key challenge for the international gold market in relation to Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining production (which accounts for 20% of newly mined annual supply) is how to facilitate the channelling of material produced by ‘responsible’ ASGM into formal channels. 

This then comes down to how certain companies can be about the strength of their supply chain as, by their very nature, they are incredibly complex.

There are companies which are showing real leadership in this regard.

Apple is one of them.

It takes significant steps and is firmly committed to responsible sourcing of minerals.

As it says in its  filing earlier this year to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission “Apple works to protect the environment and to safeguard the well-being of the millions of people touched by its supply chain, from the mining level to the facilities where products are assembled.”

This is a global challenge and there are many players in the tech ecosystem.

We, at Minexx, operate in this ecosystem but at the other end of the supply chain to smartphone and electric vehicle manufacturers – at the artisanal mining level.

We believe that responsibility applies to every link of the supply chain. We also believe that, through technology, we are able to redesign a very outdated system – indeed the most unsophisticated $100Bn market in the world.

Earlier this year, in a world first, Minexx exported minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo with full financial traceability, transparency and trust, by processing US$250 000 of digital, blockchain certified payments.

We operate as a strategic partner, bringing benefits to miners, smelters, traders, tech companies and governments – and all parties have a role to play.

We believe that increased transparency is key to the mineral supply chain and technology, through blockchain, is bringing much need traceability and trust to the system. But scale is also fundamental to moving the dial, from improving the lot of artisanal miners through to enabling a fair and efficient climate transition.

The faster the uptake of technological supply chain solutions the smoother the transition will be. Consumers can then rest assured that, when they are behind the wheel of their electric vehicle, they really are driving change.