Blockchain for Metal Traceability and Transparency

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Blockchain technology is being implemented in the low-carbon metals sector to enhance traceability and transparency throughout the metal supply chain. This involves creating a secure and immutable digital record of the origin, processing history, and ethical sourcing practices associated with metals, enabling businesses and consumers to verify the sustainability and provenance of the materials they use.

Impact on climate action

Blockchain for Metal Traceability and Transparency revolutionizes low-carbon metals by ensuring accountability throughout the supply chain. By enabling real-time tracking and immutable records, it enhances transparency, fostering trust among stakeholders. This innovation boosts climate action by promoting sustainable practices and mitigating environmental impacts associated with metal production.


  • Blockchain Technology: A distributed ledger technology that securely records transactions and tracks the movement of assets across a network of computers. Each transaction is cryptographically secured and added to a “block,” creating an unalterable chain of information.
  • Metal Traceability: Using blockchain to record the journey of metal from its origin (mine or recycled source) through various processing stages to its final product, providing a comprehensive audit trail.
  • Transparency and Trust: The decentralized and immutable nature of blockchain enhances transparency and builds trust by providing a verifiable record that can be accessed by authorized stakeholders.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Smart Contracts for Automated Processes: Integrating smart contracts, self-executing agreements stored on the blockchain, to automate processes like payments, quality verification, and compliance checks, streamlining the supply chain.
  • Tokenization of Metals: Representing metals as digital tokens on a blockchain can facilitate fractional ownership, streamline trading, and enable new financial instruments for sustainable metal financing.
  • Integration with IoT and AI: Combining blockchain with the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) can enable real-time data collection and analysis on material flows, environmental impact, and ethical sourcing practices.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Decentralized Metal Tracking
  • Immutable Metal Records
  • Blockchain-Powered Traceability
  • Transparency in Metal Sourcing
  • Secure Metal Transaction Records
  • Ethical Sourcing Verification
  • Automated Supply Chain Processes
  • Smart Contract Integration
  • Metal Provenance Assurance
  • Tokenized Metal Ownership
  • Digital Metal Assets
  • Streamlined Metal Trading
  • Real-Time Metal Data Analytics
  • Environmental Impact Monitoring
  • Ethical Sourcing Insights
  • Blockchain-IoT Integration
  • AI-Enhanced Metal Tracking
  • Verifiable Metal Supply Chains

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Circulor (UK):
    • Technology Focus: Circulor specializes in utilizing blockchain technology to trace materials through the supply chain, particularly focusing on metals. Their platform likely enables the tracking of metal production, processing, and distribution, providing transparency and accountability.
    • Uniqueness: Circulor’s uniqueness may lie in its comprehensive approach to supply chain traceability, utilizing blockchain to ensure ethical sourcing, environmental sustainability, and compliance with regulations.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions are likely targeted towards industries that rely on metals, such as automotive, aerospace, electronics, and renewable energy, where transparency and responsible sourcing are paramount.
  • MineHub Technologies (Canada):
    • Technology Focus: MineHub Technologies specializes in leveraging blockchain for supply chain optimization in the mining industry. Their platform may focus on digitizing and automating processes related to metal extraction, refining, and trading.
    • Uniqueness: MineHub’s uniqueness may stem from its focus on the mining sector, offering tailored solutions to address the specific challenges and complexities of metal supply chains, such as provenance tracking and regulatory compliance.
    • End-User Segments: Their target segments likely include mining companies, metal traders, smelters, and manufacturers sourcing raw materials, seeking to enhance efficiency, transparency, and sustainability in their supply chains.
  • Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN):
    • Technology Focus: RSBN is likely focused on utilizing blockchain to ensure responsible sourcing of metals, addressing issues such as conflict minerals and human rights abuses in the supply chain. Their platform may enable stakeholders to track the origin and journey of metals, ensuring compliance with ethical standards.
    • Uniqueness: RSBN’s uniqueness may lie in its collaborative approach, bringing together multiple stakeholders across industries to establish a shared blockchain infrastructure for responsible sourcing of metals, fostering transparency and trust.
    • End-User Segments: Their solutions may appeal to industries with a strong focus on ethical sourcing and corporate social responsibility, such as electronics, jewelry, and automotive, where ensuring the integrity of the supply chain is essential.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Technology Enhancements: MIT researchers are pioneering the integration of blockchain technology into the supply chain of low-carbon metals. They are developing decentralized ledger systems that enable transparent tracking of metal production processes, from extraction to manufacturing, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions throughout the supply chain.
    • Uniqueness of Research: MIT’s approach involves combining blockchain with other emerging technologies such as Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices and smart contracts to create a comprehensive platform for metal traceability and carbon footprint monitoring. By leveraging blockchain’s immutability and transparency, MIT aims to enhance accountability and trust in the low-carbon metal industry.
    • End-use Applications: The research at MIT has implications for industries that rely on low-carbon metals, including renewable energy, electric vehicles, and sustainable infrastructure development. By ensuring the traceability and sustainability of metal supply chains, companies can meet regulatory requirements, reduce reputational risks, and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business:
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Business are exploring the use of blockchain technology to improve the transparency and efficiency of low-carbon metal markets. They are developing blockchain-based platforms that facilitate secure and decentralized trading of low-carbon metal credits, allowing buyers and sellers to verify the origin and carbon footprint of metals.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Stanford’s research emphasizes the role of blockchain in creating new market mechanisms for incentivizing low-carbon metal production and consumption. By tokenizing carbon credits on a blockchain, Stanford aims to create a liquid market for environmental credits, encouraging investments in low-carbon technologies and rewarding sustainable practices.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Stanford has implications for companies seeking to reduce their carbon footprint and comply with environmental regulations. By participating in blockchain-enabled carbon markets, companies can offset their emissions, support renewable energy projects, and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability to investors and stakeholders.
  • University of Oxford (UK):
    • Technology Enhancements: Researchers at the University of Oxford are exploring the use of blockchain technology to enhance the transparency and accountability of low-carbon metal supply chains. They are developing blockchain-based systems that enable real-time tracking of metal transactions and carbon emissions data, facilitating more informed decision-making and risk management.
    • Uniqueness of Research: Oxford’s research focuses on the intersection of blockchain technology, environmental sustainability, and corporate governance. By creating transparent and auditable records of metal transactions on a blockchain, Oxford aims to improve corporate accountability and foster greater trust among stakeholders in the low-carbon metal industry.
    • End-use Applications: The research at Oxford has implications for businesses operating in sectors such as manufacturing, construction, and electronics. By adopting blockchain-enabled supply chain solutions, companies can ensure the ethical sourcing of low-carbon metals, mitigate supply chain risks, and enhance their reputation as responsible corporate citizens.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Blockchain-based traceability systems are gaining traction in the low-carbon metals sector. Companies like Circulor and MineHub Technologies are working with major metal producers and manufacturers to implement blockchain solutions for supply chain transparency and responsible sourcing.