Startup uses blockchain to ensure minerals come from ethical sources – by Darren Campbell (Globe and Mail – May 18, 2017)

Dawn Jutla says her company has the technology to help put an end to the shady practice of mining precious and industrial metals to finance war.

Ms. Jutla, the president and CEO of Halifax-based startup Peer Ledger, is staking its future on a blockchain technology called Mimosi that it says can track precious metals throughout the supply chain to ensure every milligram purchased by buyers has come from an ethical source and is not funding armed conflict in war-torn countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“This is important because of the damage buyers are seeing being done at the source mines among the Indigenous people who live in the area,” says Ms. Jutla, a professor of technology, entrepreneurship and innovation at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. “When I say damage I am talking about children being raped and used for labour in mines. End users of these metals are trying to use their purchasing power to prevent that.”

But tracking the origin of metals like gold and silver to ensure they don’t come from a mine run by armed groups can be difficult. For example, a bar of gold is usually produced from ore from several sources requiring end users to track those multiple sources. And while standards, programs and guidelines exist aimed at verifying the source of these metals, it can be time-consuming and costly to gather that documentation.

However, Ms. Jutla says there is mounting pressure from the international community to stop the unethical production of minerals, and she says Peer Ledger’s Mimosi product provides a solution to this problem. Mimosi uses a private permissioned blockchain, which chronologically and permanently logs information that’s copied across a computer network accessed by multiple collaborating parties.

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