BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT

In contrast to other sectors such as the forestry, food or textile sector, in which a comprehensive certification scheme for production and transport is already established an all-encompassing standard for the certification of mineral resources does not yet exist.

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Based on this, the consumer’s moral and ethical principles, in the consumption of sustainably extracted and manufactured products, as well as a political demand for compliance with social, environmental and financial principles, the necessity to establish a complete and generally accepted certification system for the production, processing, and a traceable transport of all mineral resources is increasing and necessary.

STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE

Previous research work in this area has revealed that several initiatives for specific mineral resources or regions have been founded over the last 10-15 years. However, many initiatives do not cover both, global mining activities and all mineral resources. Proven and trustworthy initiatives will be considered in order to avoid increasing the compliance responsibilities on the company to be certified.

With all of the above in mind, a group of partners are seeking to develop an initiative for the EU covering mining, processing and trade processes on a global scale and not focusing on a specific mineral resource. Especially the customer’s trust in the product is of high interest of this innovation work. The ultimate objective of this innovation work is to establish a label on mineral, which is planned to be extended on a global scale in the long run. For this establishment the development of certification standards is necessary.

The establishment of this universal initiative and EU label is planned to be carried out by the partners DMT GmbH & Co. KG, TÜV NORD CERT GmbH, the Montanuniversitaet Leoben, and Universiteit Leiden, all of which bring different competencies, highly relevant for the certification of mineral resources. The DMT has long-term mining consulting and engineering experience and is engaged in the preparation of bankable feasibility studies. Also, the DMT executes audits related to environmental and occupational health and safety aspects.

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TÜV NORD CERT has extensive expertise in the field of auditing and certification and is engaged in the development of certification systems as well as the execution of certification processes e.g. regarding forestry or environmental management systems. Among further expertise of the Montanuniversitaet Leoben, the Chair of Geology and Economic Geology specialises in the application of geological, mineralogical, geochemical and statistical methods in mineral exploration, deposits evaluation and orcharacterisation.

Additional competencies are brought to the project through the Universiteit Leiden. Here, the Department of Industrial Ecology of the Institute of Environmental Science conducts fundamental and policy-oriented research in the area of the use and management of natural resources and the impacts of resources use and the environment. Additionally, Universiteit Leiden is operating a network of consistently highly regarded members within the consumer goods industry.

For the certification of raw materials the following skills/qualities are required:

  • Expertise in exploration, extraction and processing of mineral resources
  • Experience in certification processes
  • Managing a network of companies involved in the supply chain of mineral resources

OBJECTIVES

 

The ultimate objective of this project is to establish a label for mineral resources which will confirm that the product meets certain, ethical, environmental and sustainability criteria. Over the long term, it is intended that this will be a globally recognised label. In order for this to be established, it is necessary to develop an all encompassing global standard which incorporates all of the other standards which currently exist for raw materials.

 

OUTPUT OF THE PROJECT

The targeted output of this innovation work can best be described by means of, for example the certification of coffee or tea. It is known that certified producers showed substantial improvements in performance in comparison with non-certified producers. Coffee producers named main benefits of certification such as the reduction in production costs, a better price for the product, quality improvements of the product, access to new markets, environmental improvements, better cost management of the production,  traceability of the production process, and most importantly improvements of working conditions. These benefits, amongst others, are also the focus of the certification of mineral resources. Additionally, an improvement in the image of certified producers as well as increasing sales could be possible advantages of a label for mineral resources.

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The input of various stakeholders will only serve to improve the quality of the standard. As such, we would value your thoughts by completing our questionnaire and play your part in helping us to develop the most universal certification system relevant to your needs.

 

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Increase the producer’s sense of responsibility for sustainable extraction, production and processing as well as traceable transport and trade of mineral resources

Implement a universal and comprehensive certification program in order to avoid market distortions resulting from regional limitations

Establish a standardisation and homogenisation of the market for certification of mineral resources in form of a EU-Standard

Comply with the ethical principles of the EU and gain trust of customers in the implementation of a comprehensive certification program

Gradual adaption of the certification system at international level – beyond the European Union

Transpose the new holistic theoretical framework into academic education

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT
OF A CERTIFICATION SYSTEM

Basis for the new certification standard

Within the project, systemisation and categorisation of the requirements for a certification scheme, covering all mineral resources must be carried out, taking into account existing certification schemes. Subsequently, minerals will be clustered into categories and a certification scheme for different minerals resources, or mineral groups respectively, will be developed. Within this scheme, criteria for certification and the necessary technical tools will be developed. As a last step, the developed certification schemes will be evaluated in in-situ certification processes. Finally, testing and validation of a developed certification program will be carried out at the end of the project. At the conclusion of the project, it is envisaged that an EU label would be available within three to four years after that date.

Expertise in exploration, extraction and processing of mineral resources

Experience in certification processes

Managing a network to companies involved in the value chain of mineral resources

IMPACTS AND BENEFITS

Several aspects described in the strategic agenda of EIT Raw Materials can be connected to the ideas and values of the proposed solution. These are as follows:

INDUSTRIAL COMPETITIVENESS

The main objective of this unified certification program, representing a European initiative, is that producers and processors of mineral resources as well as end-product manufacturers will be certified to the new standard. This is expected to have a long-term positive impact on the competitiveness over non-certified producers.

INNOVATION
CAPACITY

For example, The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)  is limited exclusively to the financial sector of the minerals industry focusing on aspects such as bribery, corruption and tax evasion. The proposed solution is truly innovative because, apart from including those aspects,  it also hopes to cover the entire market regarding transparency in the production, processing and trade of mineral resources. Within the solution socioeconomic and environmental,,as well as aspects concerning occupational health and safety will be considered, evaluated and improved.

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS

The certification scheme to be developed mainly takes into consideration aspects concerning the environment as well as social sustainability.

HUMAN CAPITAL

The solution contributes highly to transparency of market mechanisms and additionally to development of new services.

DEVELOPMENT OF NEW SKILLS

New skills and Intellectual Property (IP) are expected to be developed/created through the development of a certification framework/scheme by a multinational cooperation of consortium partners.

NEW OR EXTENDED PARTNERSHIPS / INCREASED COOPERATION

The development of this unified certification program enables an increased cooperation between partners of the consortium and new partnerships and cooperation with entities participating in the value chain from production of mineral resources to end consumer.

ADDED VALUE ACCRUING TO POTENTIAL USERS, COMPANIES, OR SOCIETY AT LARGE

Ethical and moral aspects are of major importance and are therefore particularly promoted through the certification system, resulting in possible benefits for society at large.

SHARING OF EXPERIENCE

An objective of the proposed solution is to develop an open and transparent system, from which all participants within the Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) can benefit. Moreover, companies   along the value chain of the raw material industry can also profit from the developed label on mineral resources. 

WORK PACKAGES

WP 0

Feasibility Study

The main target of the feasibility study (WP0) is to further substantiate the information which was already provided within the proposal submission.

This includes, among others, a realistic and relevant analysis of the market conditions, total available market size and growth rate, competitors and competitive solutions and key stakeholders. Furthermore, target customers have to be identified and segmented according to their characteristics. To fulfil this part of the feasibility study, a questionnaire has been created. The information, collected from the questionnaire, can help to develop a Go To Market Strategy (WP7).

The strategy plan for commercialisation is well established, including additional dissemination measures after finishing the project. In addition, there has to always be the possibility of “freedom to operate” and a strategy to protect the knowledge. Regulatory and/or standard requirements are well addressed. Finally, risk factors have to be identified and analysed as well options to mitigate these.

To summarise, WP0 can be separated into 3 steps, as follows:

  1. Development of a questionnaire
  2. Evaluating the questionnaire to form the basis for the market entry strategy 
  3. Description of the ideas for how to reach the market

WP 1

Project Management

Project management is part of every work package and besides administrative and economic tasks, internal and opposite to EIT Raw Materials the organization and connection of the different tasks in the work packages and the communication between the project partners is to arrange.

The individual members of the CERA project are experienced and professionals in their field, which includes Systems Certification. This makes us ideally placed to create a qualified and reliable certification system for raw materials.

To work with transparency and openly and the aid the exchange of information, an advisory board has been formed, consisting of Euromines JRC, Fairphone, University of South Denmark and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. If required, the advisory board can be expanded.​

WP 2

Systematisation, Characterisation and Clustering into Categories

Work package 2 provides the basis for the WP 3 “Development of Certification schemes per Categories”. Thus, it is of vital importance to understand which catergories raw materials are classified into.. For this purpose, the team will develop a sophisticated system based on raw material characterisation. Moreover, aspects such as transportation, processing, smelting and further relative criteria have to be taken into account.

Systematisation

A fundamental premise is to analyse every mineral resource including fossil fuels (oil, natural gas). The approach is to determine appropriate characteristics forming the foundation of the cluster analysis. In addition to mineral properties, an analysis should be undertaken as to which parameters are mandatory to achieve the ambition of an environmental, social and economically sustainable certificate. Particular emphasis will be placed on a traceable and secure certification.

Characterisation

On the base of the previous output, the minerals will be subdivided in different characteristics. Among others, it will contain different aspects such as mining or processing method and different parameters such as proof of origin and deposit type.

Clustering

The objective is to determine a suitable clustering algorithm. Decisions have to be taken regarding the validation of characteristics and the identification of the main clustering groups. 

Task/Deliverables

  • Overview of used minerals
  • Lists of characteristics and parameters
  • Identification of clusters

WP 3

Development of Certification schemes per Category

Within this WP, the basic certification scheme, i.e. standard, which will form the foundation for the issuance of a label on mineral resources, will be developed.

As a first step existing schemes will be screened and evaluated concerning the applicability of the task at hand. However, it is expected that none of the existing schemes will adequately meet the all-encompassing criteria of a holistic certification scheme for all mineral resources. Still, they will offer a helpful insight on how certification of raw materials should be conducted and are thus a valuable resource.

As a second step, overarching criteria for the development of the certification scheme are defined. These should refer to the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards.

Possible core principles are:

Sustainability

Impartiality

Improvement

Transparency

Relevance

Accessibility

Rigour

Truthfulness

Engagement

Efficiency

 

These criteria provide a general guidance on how a certification scheme should be developed and how those using the scheme should act when performing audits etc.

The actual standard is going to be created in two parts:

The first part provides general provisions for sustainability requirements for all of the clusters identified in WP2.

In the second part and for each individual cluster, a performance and a Chain of Custody (CoC) standard are developed. The performance standard addresses sustainability issues relevant to the value chain(s) of the individual cluster and provides guidance on related Environmental, Social and Governance sustainability issues. The CoC standard defines requirements for relevant CoC management systems such as accounting methods, mass balancing to coverboth the performance and the CoC standard.

Another standard will define verification steps and methodologies as well as auditor competence requirements.

To identify relevant sustainability issues, stakeholder analysis and engagement procedures should be applied for all relevant clusters.

A review process, in which the draft standard will be open for public consultation, will be established. All of the development procedures for the standards will be designed by following widely accepted standards such as ISEAL and ISO/IEC 59 “Code of good practice for standardization”.

Tasks/Deliverables

  • Review of existing certification schemes
  • Stakeholder analysis and engagement plan
  • Development of an overarching set of criteria for raw material certification
  • Development of a specific set of certification criteria regarding each raw material cluster
  • Development of auditor qualification criteria
  • Draft review process

 

 

WP 4

Analysis of technical Tools for Certification

In WP4, the team would first screen the raw materials sector for existing initiatives of raw material certification that use or require the use of analytical methods. Then the team will establish the reasons for applying analytical fingerprinting methods (customer requirements and needs, political incentives). After that, the team would evaluate the possibility of developing a fingerprinting method based on geological, geochemical and mineralogical parameters for various materials identified in steps 1 and 2. The chances of obtaining the control samples and database necessary would then be assessed, and a discussion around the methods that should be applied should be held. The final step is the data evaluation using multivariate statistics, data mining, machine learning tools and chemometrics. With such methods applied to the data, decision rules and match criteria may be developed.

Development of Analytical Fingerprint (AFP) methods will differ from raw material to raw material. The methods used depend on the questions asked, the parameters that must be analysed, the methods available on site, the possibility to set up a data base of reference samples etc. Representative sampling is an issue of utmost importance, and probably the most difficult part, especially for ores and mineral concentrates. However, the team might be able to provide a generalised scheme that can be applied to different raw materials and will also formulate the risks and pitfalls associated with analytical methods to provide a framework for decision-makers that may enable them to judge if a method for a certain material should be developed or not.

Tasks proposed in WP4                                    

  1. Screening phase (initiatives)
  2. Catalogue of reasons
  3. Characterization of the material; criteria selection
  4. Development of a data base
  5. Analytical methods
  6. Data evaluation

WP 5

Ensuring the Chain of custody

Analyse a more dynamic approach towards certification: In order to arrive at sustainable supply chains from mine to consumer, more dynamics can be introduced into the certification schemes. Instead of focusing on static certification standards, a choice can be made to focus on a process of continuous improvements of working conditions and environmental impacts of mining and refining operations. This is less static in two ways:

a) it allows for supply chains that do not yet comply with the standards IF a scheme is implemented of continuous improvements. This thus allows for small-scale artisanal mining to be on board, removing the barriers of strict certification standards.  Similar approaches can be found in the agri-world where co-operations of small farmers can acquire fair trade labels;

b) it ensures that improvements simply do not stop when the certification criteria are met and thus stimulates improvements beyond these standards.

Implement a Chain of Custody in order to make the certification useful for end users such as the consumer electronics industry: This Chain of Custody is aimed to develop a certification mechanism to ensure the traceability of certified mineral resources from mining operations to the end customers. This will serve as a basis for the societal trustworthiness of the certification program.

Deliverables

  1. Overview of existing initiatives for sustainable minerals (raw materials) with an analysis of their methodologies, challenges and limitations.
  2. Overview (map) of mineral supply chains and analysis of traceability and transparency in the mineral supply chain.
  3. Analysis of a more dynamic approach towards certification.
  4. A roadmap for a dynamic certification mechanism and of an administrative certification mechanism to ensure the chain of custody.

WP 6

Standardisation and Finalisation, Conclusion, Evaluation

Objective

Within this WP the information gained via review and stakeholder consultation will be integrated into the draft standards developed in WP3.

Those draft standards will be reviewed in two further rounds of public consultation.

For each consultation round, a distinct engagement plan will be implemented to facilitate a successful and productive dialogue with consortium partners and key stakeholders.

After consultation the draft standards as well as other applicable documents (guidance documents etc.) will be finalised and submitted for approval.

Following the approval of all consortium partners as well as the EIT Raw Materials, the standards will be published and translated into different languages (if deemed necessary).

The standards will be reviewed via open consultation in a recurring cycle.

Potential project partners will be contacted regarding exemplary testing of the developed standards and the associated label.

Tasks

  • Review of the standards development process
  • Coordination of consultation dialogues with multiple stakeholders, consortium partners, EIT
  • Preparation of the certification standard documents and other applicable documents

WP 7

Dissemination and Market Entry Strategy, Exemplary Testing & Validation

The market entry strategy is defined as the planning and implementation of services for a new target market. In general, the entry of new services to a market faces three major issues:

  1. Marketing - which countries, which segments, how to manage and implement marketing effort, how to enter - with intermediaries or directly, with what information?
  2. Sourcing - whether to obtain services or provide?
  3. Investment and control - joint venture, global partner, acquisition?

Based on the prior obtained results of WP0, the above-mentioned issues and questions will be answered. Therefore, an appropriate strategic framework has to be determined. In addition to the market entry strategy, the method of dissemination is crucial for the successful implementation of raw material certificates. The question needs to be evaluated regarding the best way to reach the desired target audiences. Initial considerations contain the following dissemination methods:

  • Website
  • Video
  • Conferences
  • Exhibitions
  • Seminar or meetings
  • Articles in a professional magazine or news paper
  • Organisations that could help with dissemination

In parallel with the dissemination and market entry strategy, exemplary testing and validation of the developed certificates will be executed.

The required content of the exemplary testing and validation is provided by WP3 – WP4. In this part of WP7 as many companies as possible with which we have contacts to, will be asked to test the certification. We will also be asking these companies for feedback with regards to the suitability of the certification and how it compares with other such schemes. End user feedback is very important to the success of the scheme and hence this will be reviewed extensively and incorporated, where possible, into the revised standard.