This week, German mining engineering firm DMT launched CERA, the first global certification scheme to guarantee a consistent standard of environmental, social and economic impact throughout the entire raw materials value chain.

Currently, at least 40 different certification schemes exist for mining activity alone, increasing exponentially when considering the entire value chain, with some certificates specific to a single geography, process or humanitarian concern, and others to a single mineral. This results in a porous and diffuse approach to how sustainability and ethics are defined from country to country, mineral to mineral, and company to company.

The CERA certification program is a new universal standard, providing an affordable and consistent evaluation of environmental, social and economic sustainability along the entire raw materials value chain. CERA has also created the first definition of sustainability valid for all materials and manufacturing processes, meaning the CERA standard will be applicable at every stage of the value chain from mineral exploration to the final product, and covering every raw material, across every country, under a single scheme, following a formal launch in 2020.

CERA will also use blockchain technology to enable the traceability of raw materials along the entire value chain for the first time. Utilizing a proprietary hybrid database, CERA will create a public ledger where CERA certification can be viewed and verified. CERA said it has chosen to use blockchain technology to ensure greatest accuracy and security of information throughout the raw materials value chain.

CERA has been in development since 2015 and it received financial support from EIT RawMaterials. CERA’s Advisory Board includes Volkswagen, Fairphone, Euromines, University of Southern Denmark, United Nations ECE and the EU Joint Research Centre (JRC). Additional Advisory Board members will be announced in 2020.

Formal CERA pilot projects addressing sustainability in the exploration, extraction and processing of lithium and cobalt will commence in late 2019. CERA will also be identifying pilot project partners for Chain of Custody, set to begin in 2020. CERA will welcome candidate applications from 2020 and issue first certificates in 2021.