Innovation and Technology Responsible Production

Using Blockchain Technology to Support Supply Chain Transparency

March 17, 2022

Germanium is an internationally recognized critical mineral, which is used in creating technology like fiberoptic cables.
Photo: Germanium is an internationally recognized critical mineral, which is used in creating technology like fiberoptic cables.


The Importance of Traceability

People and companies around the world are increasingly asking where their products come from, and what are the impacts of the raw materials that went into the items they use every day. To meet this increasing expectation, Teck is harnessing blockchain technology to develop a secure approach to end-to-end traceability, ensuring that our customers and communities can be confident that our products are responsibly sourced from mine to manufacturer.

Teck’s Product Passport

Teck is an industry leader in responsible production, as a member of the International Council of Mining and Metals, the Mining Association of Canada’s Towards Sustainable Mining program, the International Zinc Association, International Lead Association, Copper Mark, and more.

Building on this strong track record of sustainability performance, we’re working to create a product passport that would allow secure documentation of our responsible mining practices from the mine site all the way to end customers and manufacturers. Additionally, this approach would support our work to ensure that third-party suppliers to our Trail metallurgical facility are likewise sourcing raw materials from responsible sources.

In 2020, Teck partnered with DLT Labs to develop a blockchain-enabled solution to digitally attach product and sustainability information to each shipment of germanium products, a by-product of the zinc refining process. Teck selected germanium as the product for this pilot project due to its relatively simple supply chain and Teck’s large contribution to the global germanium market. Germanium is an internationally recognized critical mineral, which is used in creating fiberoptic cables, optical instruments like microscopes, cameras and night vision, high speed electronic circuits and high-efficiency LEDs. It is also seen as an essential resource for telecommunications and the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The importance of this mineral coupled with a relatively streamlined supply chain led to the selection of this product to develop a pilot product passport system. The project created a digital dataset of product and location information related to the shipments of our zinc concentrate from Teck’s Red Dog Operations in Alaska, through ship and rail transportation to our Trail operations in B.C., and finally out to customers. Examples of data traced in the project included:

  • The mineral composition of concentrates throughout the supply chain as mined material is refined into germanium

  • Mine site origin information

  • Greenhouse gas emissions

  • ISO and health and safety certifications

  • Sustainability performance

We engaged with multiple Teck site and corporate departments, as well as our direct customers to ensure we built a thorough and complete system.

As the pilot system is finalized, Teck will further engage with our customers to demonstrate the system and confirm that the contained information meets downstream expectations.

Learn more about our approach to Responsible Production on our website.


First Published on March 17, 2022