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Teck teams up with DLT Labs on blockchain initiative to trace germanium

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Teck Resources (TSX: TCK.A; TCK.B; NYSE: TECK) is the latest company to explore the use of blockchain technology to track material through the supply chain, from production to final product. The diversified miner is teaming up with Toronto-based DLT Labs to trace germanium, a critical mineral that is found at Teck’s Red Dog zinc-lead mine in Alaska. 

DLT is a leading provider of blockchain-enabled technology and enterprise solutions for supply chain management and financing. 

Teck is the largest germanium producer in North America, but China accounts for more than half of global production. In addition to other applications, the silvery-grey metal is used in the manufacturing of fiber optic cable and solar cells. 

The pilot project will support Teck’s sustainability strategy goal to develop a product passport, providing traceability into the raw materials supply chain beyond germanium. The pilot will trace germanium from its origin at Red Dog in northwest Alaska, through transport and comingling with other sources, refining at Teck’s Trail metallurgical facility and finally to a manufacturer of fiber optic cable. 

Blockchain technology will be used to embed data including information on responsible environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices along the supply chain, such as greenhouse gas emissions, product certifications and responsible production assessments. 

While still in the early days of the application, blockchain is already being used to trace minerals – including cobalt, nickel, diamonds and gold – from mining to end manufactured product. There are also traceability initiatives for steel and aluminum (Rio Tinto’s START), as well as for copper concentrate shipments.

(This article first appeared in the Canadian Mining Journal)