From Mine to Market: Navigating the Complexities of the Mining Supply Chain

Supply chains
Mining supply chain prone to human rights abuses. diginex develops a traceability platform to monitor risks & promote responsible mining.
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Published on
May 13, 2024

Our world relies on minerals – from the copper in our phones to the lithium in our batteries, these resources fuel our technological advancements. But the path these minerals take from extraction to consumption can be paved with human rights abuses. The mining value chain is a complex network, stretching from exploration and extraction to processing, transportation, and use. At each stage, there's a risk of human rights violations.

Here are some of the most concerning issues:

  • Forced and Child Labor: Desperate poverty and weak enforcement push children and vulnerable adults into dangerous mining conditions, often for little to no pay.
  • Unsafe Working Conditions: Poor safety standards, inadequate equipment, and exposure to toxic materials put miners at constant risk of injuries and illness.
  • Community Displacement: Mining operations can force entire communities from their ancestral lands, disrupting their livelihoods and cultural heritage.
  • Environmental Degradation: Mining activities can pollute water sources, destroy ecosystems, and contribute to climate change, impacting the health and well-being of surrounding communities.

Whilst multinational corporations seek to identify and mitigate human rights risks through sourcing from industrial mines to ensure greater transparency on the source of minerals. The challenge for companies is that artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) enter the supply chain due to the lack of oversight and registration. This means minerals are easily smuggled across the border or, enter via depots resulting in companies being complicit without their knowledge. To illustrate:




For the industry to keep up with production demands, ASM is a necessary source for accessing minerals. Not to mention that with more than 150 million people in more than 120 countries are working in ASM compared to about 7 million people working in industrial mining worldwide[1], it is also a key employer for many people.


Breaking the Cycle:

So, what can be done? Here are some steps towards a more responsible mining industry:

  • Stronger Regulations: Governments need to implement and enforce stricter regulations to ensure mining companies operate ethically and respect human rights.
  • Supply Chain Transparency: Increased transparency throughout the supply chain is crucial to identify and address human rights abuses. Consumers can also make informed choices by demanding ethically sourced minerals.
  • Community Engagement: Meaningful consultation and collaboration with local communities throughout the mining process ensures their voices are heard and their rights are protected.
  • Technological Solutions: Use of supply chain mapping technology and satellite monitoring can improve transparency and track minerals from mine to market.


As a disruptive technology provider, we are at the forefront of implementing innovate software that supports clients on their traceability journey. diginex is supporting a US Department of Labor (DOL), Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB) funded project to implement the Global Trace Protocol lead by LRQA. As the technical lead on this project, diginex is developing a commodity agnostic platform that can be used to trace products and monitor risks for indications of child labour and forced labour from source through to processing.  While initially piloting in cotton supply chains in Pakistan, there have been calls for the traceability platform to be used in cobalt supply chains in Democratic Republic of Congo.


To find out more about diginex technology solutions and our work with the Global Trace Protocol contact us here


[1] Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining: Addressing Challenges in Global Supply Chains, by Laura Much  on January 29, 2020.

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