Norilsk Nickel joins the multi-stakeholder initiative using blockchain technology.

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The world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel is joining a multi-stakeholder initiative using blockchain technology.

“Mining” may be most commonly used in the crypto industry to refer to the process by which digital currencies are collectively generated—but there are contexts in which firms are adopting blockchain infrastructure to manage the most physical mining supply chains.

The Russian company Norilsk Nickel — the world’s largest producer of palladium and high-grade nickel and a large producer of platinum and copper — has joined an initiative called the Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, according to an announcement published on Jan. 14.

The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network, or RSBN, is the outcome of an initiative by the global sourcing audit and advisory RCS Global Group. Aimed at improving the transparency, traceability and verification of sustainable practices in the minerals and metals industries, the RSBN network is built on the IBM Blockchain platform and is powered by Hyperledger Fabric.

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To join RSBN, companies must be assessed — at the outset, and then each year — according to the framework provided for by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. These requirements are outlined in “Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas.”

RCS Global Group also audits participating companies according to the sourcing standards laid down by an industry body known as the Responsible Minerals Initiative or RMI. As a member of RSBN, several of Nornickel’s supply chains will be audited from mines in the Russian Federation to refineries, both domestically and in Finland. The data from this audit will be tracked on the RSBN platform, providing a record of sustainable nickel and cobalt production and providing information on its maintenance and origin.

Nornickel’s participation in RSBN is part of the company’s wider digital technology strategy, which aims to make its supply chain more customer-centric, both in terms of providing more transparency and assurance about sustainable practices, and in terms of creating opportunities for Nornickel’s partners to track commodity flows “in near-real-time.”

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Nornickel is also adopting a platform called Atomyze tokenize physical assets for this second goal. Similarly to RSBN, Atomyze uses Hyperledger, with the participation of IBM.

Prior to Nornickel, British-Swiss commodity trading and mining company Glencore joined RSBN in late 2019, shortly after the World Economic Forum launched its own “Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative” initiative to promote responsible sourcing and sustainability practises in the global industry.


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