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CERA: A Global Certification to Ensure Future Sustainability in the Use of Raw Materials

November 15, 2019 by Luke James

Due to be launched next year, a group of European bodies and companies have joined forces to create the first global certification scheme ensuring consistent standards of environmental, social, and economic impact.

CERA (Certification of Raw Materials) was conceived in 2015 by German engineering and consulting firm DMT Group. CERA is designed to ensure consistent standards of environmental, social, and economic impact through the entire raw materials value chain.


The CERA Announcement

Announced at the end of October, CERA pilot projects will address sustainability in the exploration, extraction, and processing of lithium and cobalt. In early 2020, CERA will identify pilot project partners for a chain of custody and will be accepting candidate applications from 2020 with a view to issuing its first certificate in 2021. 

At present, there are currently 40 different certification schemes for global mining alone and additional schemes for the full value chain, some being specific to a single process, mineral, geographical process, or humanitarian concern. 

In a statement concerning CERA, DMT Group said, "Existing certification processes are complex, expensive and inconsistent, resulting in a porous and diffuse approach to how 'sustainability' and 'ethics' are defined from country to country, mineral to mineral and company to company.

“The CERA certification programme has solved this global industry-wide issue with the development of a new universal standard, providing an affordable and consistent evaluation of environmental, social and economic sustainability along the entire raw materials value chain,” 


CERA certification logo.

CERA certification of raw materials logo. Image Credit: Universiteit Leiden.


What Makes CERA Different?

Unlike current certification schemes that are applicable only to single processes or materials, for example, CERA is valid for all materials and manufacturing processes. This means that the CERA standard is applicable at every single stage along the value chain worldwide—from initial mineral exploration to the final product. 

Using blockchain technology, CERA will enable raw materials to be traced along the value chain and create a public ledger where certifications can be viewed and verified. 

CERA, therefore, solves complexity and inconsistencies that currently plague sustainability standards in raw materials. Andreas Hucke, CERA Project Director and Head of Raw Materials Sustainability at DMT, said CERA solves the problems created by the… "different approaches to how sustainability and ethics are defined from country to country, mineral to mineral, and company to company,”

The CERA certification scheme is wholly comprehensive and goes further than other certification schemes to contribute positively to sustainability, the environment, and ethics.


Meeting the EU’s Clean Energy Goals

CERA will also help the EU meet its goals for transitioning wholly to clean energy

At present, the EU relies heavily on imports for many of the raw materials used throughout the European industry. These are vitally important for the continued growth and support of large-scale development and deployment of all kinds of technology, an example being that of electric vehicles (EVs).

Whilst it is admirable that the EU plans to have 60 million EVs on the road by 2030, meeting this goal will cause a rapid rise in the demand for these imported materials. At the same time, other countries that are also pursuing cleaner energy and carbon neutrality will face an increase in demand for materials such as neodymium and dysprosium to produce not only their EVs but other technologies such as modern wind turbines. 

By involving stakeholders from a variety of sectors and making the sourcing of these and other materials more traceable, and the companies that source them more accountable, CERA and the CERA certification will go a long way to ensuring sustainability which, in turn, will positively contribute to the development of clean energy alternatives. 

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