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New partnership to ensure transparency in mineral supply chain

LuNa Smelter, the sole producer and exporter of tin in both Eastern and Central Africa, has entered partnership with Minespider, Google, and the Rwanda Mines, Petroleum, and Gas Board (RMB) to pilot a tool that will foster transparency in mineral supply chain in Rwanda.

Dubbed OreSource blockchain, the tool is expected to help in capturing key information that European Union importers require to comply with the new EU Conflict Mineral Regulation coming into force in January 2021.

 

With the new tool, by affixing a simple QR code to a mineral shipment, or to an invoice, the recipients of the materials will receive all the data they need to ensure their compliance with the EU regulation, secured on Minespider’s public blockchain protocol.

 

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.

 

The tool is being developed under the grant awarded to Minespider by EIT Raw Materials earlier this year.

According to Olena Wiaderna, Director of Sustainability and Supply Chain Due Diligence at LuNa Smelter says that the tool comes at the right time.

“The industry is still unsure about how to comply with the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation. OreSource will give us a tool to provide the information that is required, and help European importers collect the required data,” she said.

According to Francis Gatare, the CEO of Rwanda Mines, Petroleum and Gas Board, the tool comes to add to already-existing measures by the government to ensure transparency in the mining sector.

He 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.”

RMB has already deployed different due diligence measures, including the development of tag managers at mining sites to seal and track the minerals extracted, a directive that arguably reduced the risk of potential illegal trade in minerals.

Under the new agreement, Google will provide input and offer industry expertise to ensure OreSource is aligned with importer and manufacturer requirements.

Minespider and Google have previously implemented a traceability project, tracking tin from the mine to the end-user, along with other group members such as Volkswagen, and the Peruvian mining company Minsur.

Rwanda’s mining industry is among sectors affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and is among priority sectors that the government seeks to revive under its Economic Recovery Plan, which runs from May, 2020 to December 2021.

Under the Plan, the government plans to re-organize small-scale mining operators, consolidating many of them into collective investment groups.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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