BMBF research project NamiRo (2015-2017)

Mineral resources are traded according to their material quality. Information regarding the origin, the extraction and processing is not generally communicated within the supply chain or rather gets lost within the global treatment process. Companies producing with high environmental and social standards have therefore a competitive disadvantage and their achievements are often not recognized and, correspondingly, not honored. This leads to market distortions, especially in case of internationally traded resources, hindering innovations in sustainability.

Moreover, end-customers are requesting more and more often sustainably produced products, investors are in search of possibilities for sustainable investments and companies take responsibility for the whole supply chain of their products. Thus, actors at different positions of the supply chain start requesting information about the extent to which sustainability is assured during mineral exploitation and processing to fulfill their supply chain responsibility. Different interests exist for fostering market transparency of mineral resources and for making environmental and social contributions visible. Transparency can be ensured by standard setting processes, whose compliance can be verified by the business itself or by third parties.

Up to now, such standards exist particularly for conflict minerals, high-value resources such as gold and diamonds or raw materials for construction. The acceptance, effectiveness as well as intended and unintended consequences (for example regarding social implications of such standards), are determined by a number of factors rooted in the general framework and the development process of the respective standard.

Aim of the project:
NamiRo stands for sustainably produced mineral resources. The aim of the project is to develop a standard system for mineral resources which is able to foster transparency of sustainability issues alongside the supply chain of mineral resources.

By standard system we mean on the one hand the standard itself (a document that contains concrete requirements) and on the other hand the initiative (e.g. validation of compliance of requirements, financing, decision-making mechanisms).

“Develop” does not mean to add another standard (or initiative) to the recently increasing number of standards, but rather develop – based on a detailed analysis of existing standards – a blueprint, that constitutes how an ideal standard should look like:

  • which topics should be covered,
  • how could these topics be covered, especially on which existing standards could be drawn on in terms of topic or indicator,
  • what are features of a successful initiative?

The in-depth analysis addresses on results of the project-internal multi-stakeholder process: the sharply risen number of standards has increased the search and transaction costs of companies. Thus, there is a demand for an overview and consolidation.

In the course of the multi-stakeholder process, especially impacts on and chances of the various stakeholders are considered.