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Strengthening Integrity and Transparency within the Gold Industry: A Deep Dive into Digital Innovation with the Royal Canadian Mint and aXedras

Updated: Jun 7

As a London Good Delivery refiner dedicated to continually improving the accountability and transparency of its precious metal sourcing, the Royal Canadian Mint (the Mint) has implemented a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) based gold tracing solution, Bullion GENESIS, that is powered in part by aXedras.


Bullion GENESIS offers the possibility to perform end-to-end tracing and certify the provenance of gold deposited and processed at the Mint’s refinery. In this interview with Rob Sargent and Lorne Whitmore we discuss how aXedras' Bullion Integrity Ledger™ solution is being applied at the Mint to transform their gold refining business and the precious metals industry.

Whitmore, LorneI am the Managing Director of Sales for our Precious Metal Products and Services group at the Mint, which includes bullion, numismatics, refining, storage, and our exchange-traded receipts programs. I have been with the Mint for almost seven years.

Sargent, RobI am the Director of Refining and Inventory Management and have been with the Mint for 15 years. I have operational responsibility for refining and assaying, as well as for the allocated storage or vaulting business, and oversee the precious metal reconciliation process at the Mint.


Philipp Stockinger

What are some of the current trends in transparency and traceability that the Mint has observed in the precious metal industry, and how has the Mint addressed these?


Whitmore, Lorne

We observed quite some time ago that there was an increasing interest from different parts of the value chain to understand the source of the metal: responsible sourcing has clearly been a priority of the industry for some time. At the same time, on the consumer side—whether it is the investment or manufacturing sector—there has been an increased level of scrutiny around the sources of precious metals, such as gold or other precious metals, because it is particularly important for delivering on a brand promise in terms of responsible sourcing.

Both concerns have really called for a solution that allows participants in that value chain to have transparency about the sourcing of metal throughout its lifecycle. We had already implemented a number of measures before adopting DLT with aXedras. Prior to that, we had implemented measures to segregate our materials so that we could identify in a more specific way the sourcing of each metal and track it from intake from the producer to the refinery, through the processing, and outwardly to our customers.

What we have done more recently is implement DLT to help provide stronger evidence of this. These measures tend to have, I would say, a lot of momentum and are generating a lot of value for people across the industry.


Sargent, Rob

In addition to our clients within the value chain, there’s also governance within the precious metals industry from organizations such as the LBMA (London Bullion Market Association), the World Gold Council, and the Responsible Jewellery Council, who can create a pinch point between producers, mines, recyclers, and end users. There is increasing pressure on us to provide that level of transparency to governing bodies, so that even the bullion markets are comfortable with the sources of the gold being supplied—not necessarily linking that source directly to the bar itself, but embracing the concept of increased transparency overall.

Moreover, there is an industry movement demanding greater transparency, not only concerning the location of the gold but also regarding all the sustainability and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) practices from where this gold originates. It is not just about verifying that the gold came from a legitimate mine, but also examining what mining practices are employed, their sustainability efforts, their engagement with local stakeholders and Indigenous communities, and the commitment to creating a workplace that is diverse, equitable and inclusive. As the need for more transparency grows, we require more tools to assist with this.

aXedras plays a crucial role here: We do all this work, but how do we transparently demonstrate it to the external world? aXedras’ platform helps us operationally to position ourselves to meet requests from downstream clients for gold of a very specific provenance. We can manufacture, refine, segregate, and deliver, and we maintain not only proof of segregation within our Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system but also use aXedras’ platform to transparently support this endeavour.

 

Philipp Stockinger

How would you describe the Mint’s novel approach to supporting proof of provenance and traceability of precious metals and can you tell us how it is unique in the industry?


Sargent, Rob

As a refiner, we maintain strict batch controls and have all the necessary methods for segregation, but these were embedded within our ERP system, which is not accessible externally. To demonstrate our capability to offer segregated gold of a specified provenance to potential clients or to the world, we needed a solution that could bridge this gap, and the aXedras platform provides that.


We are at the leading edge of adopting this technology. The uniqueness lies in the fact that we are among the few who have embraced this technology for tracking the provenance of precious metals, and are looking to expand its use.


Whitmore, Lorne

As industry leaders, we are committed to leading initiatives that benefit the entire ecosystem surrounding precious metals. It is in our interest to operate in a healthy environment that inspires trust and confidence in what we all do.

© Royal Canadian Mint


Philipp Stockinger

Why did the Mint decide to take an active role to digitize its precious metal supply chain, and what does it mean for your customers?


Whitmore, Lorne

It is important for producers of precious metals, for example mines, to ensure that all their responsible sourcing efforts are apparent to the marketplace. Similarly, downstream, whether it is for investment purposes or manufacturing—be it jewellery, electronics, or medical devices—their customers are increasingly demanding that they demonstrate not only strong sourcing practices but also ones that inspire confidence with clear proof points.

The stakes have been raised, and we felt it was crucial for our upstream customers, for whom we refine, to provide tools that allow their gold to be recognized in the marketplace for what it truly is. This also fulfills a need for those looking to source gold, enabling them to have both confidence and more specific knowledge about its origin because this can have brand implications. In some cases, it responds to broader corporate ESG initiatives.

For the investment side, understanding the sourcing of gold can impact its value, particularly by avoiding factors that might devalue the investment. Knowing that the metal comes from responsibly sourced origins supports the value of precious metals throughout the chain.

 

Philipp Stockinger

What do you value most about leveraging aXedras precious metals tracing solution?


Sargent, Rob

From day one, whether it was the global Gold Bar Integrity pilot or our internal testing, aXedras’ solution has been easy to configure and use. It allows us to quickly get up to speed and input data into the platform to achieve the transparency we are seeking. The learning curve is not steep, and it is relatively quick to become operational. aXedras and their customer service team provided us with excellent support. Their comprehensive documentation also made the process easier.

The system’s architecture, which is structured peer-to-peer and private, is of particular value. As a Canadian Crown corporation, this provides greater confidence in the security and integrity of the data.


© Royal Canadian Mint


Philipp Stockinger

What is your vision when it comes to digital transformation? Where do you see the Mint and the precious metal industry in three to five years from now on?


Whitmore, Lorne

There are two parts to this question. The first is broader and relates to our and our partners commitment to ESG principles. This commitment has long-term benefits and supports our vision for the future. There is a sustained need in the marketplace to uphold ESG standards, which is why we continue to invest in it.

 

The second part relates to digitization. We are still relatively early in the lifecycle of these solutions, and many use cases are still being invented or imagined. Certainly, the transparency in the supply chain offers a very clear value proposition. Once you start digitizing information about both the source and other attributes of precious metals, it enables more precise business models, especially in investment products, and facilitates insights into vault inventories and their attributes.

We are currently witnessing a surge in digital investment offerings, for instance. Creating an end-to-end platform that digitizes information about precious metals opens an array of new business models and products in the marketplace. We anticipate that this trend will continue unabated for some time.

Having a platform like aXedras' allows us to capitalize on these future opportunities and ensure that the market remains vibrant. I would also suggest that there may be new audiences for precious metals. Having a digital platform opens new ways of introducing precious metals, whether for investment or other purposes, to a different audience because you can offer it in a unique way.

Returning to the topic of market participants, there are a number of published sources that suggest that younger generations are typically more attuned to responsible sourcing, ESG, and socially responsible practices. We see this as a growing trend that will persist over time and having tools to support these values will appeal to new demographics.


Sargent, Rob

The Mint is undergoing a digital transformation. We recently introduced a new client portal, a security feature, aXedras’ DLT-based platform, and are implementing a new ERP system. Obviously, we would like all these components to work seamlessly together.

Five or six years from now, I envision more participants across the supply chain being able to interact seamlessly. From my perspective, we need to integrate smoothly with whatever systems the World Gold Council develops, allowing their member mines to send information and alleviate some of the pain points around the Know Your Customer or KTC process. For example, we often hear, ‘Hey, we already provided this information to them; why do we have to do it again for you?’

Can we digitize and share that information to relieve some of the governance pressure and make it easier for clients who have already uploaded their data as World Gold Council members? Can we pull it? Can we push data seamlessly to the LBMA?

These tasks will presumably be easier through aXedras’ platform, but conceptually, there will be other platforms where we will want to push data. How do we ensure that we can integrate them all so that they work seamlessly together in the future? There will be a lot of opportunity to streamline data flow to make it easier for everyone in the supply chain—on top of the value of a digitized market and the investment opportunities it presents.

 


 

About aXedras

Founded in 2018 and headquartered in Zug, Switzerland, aXedras is an independent software solutions provider dedicated to advancing the precious metals industry through innovative digital solutions. Its primary focus is on ensuring the integrity of gold bars and other precious metals. At the core of its offerings is the Bullion Integrity Ledger™️, a secure, DLT-based platform designed to digitalize global supply chains. This member-based ecosystem facilitates peer-to-peer interactions among stakeholders in the precious metals market, strengthening integrity, transparency and traceability, and confidentiality in data and business transactions. Learn more at www.axedras.com.

 

About the Royal Canadian Mint

The Royal Canadian Mint is the Crown corporation responsible for the minting and distribution of Canada’s circulation coins. The Mint is one of the largest and most versatile mints in the world, producing award-winning collector coins, market-leading bullion products, as well as Canada’s prestigious military and civilian honours.

As an established London and COMEX Good Delivery refiner, the Mint also offers a full spectrum of best-in-class gold and silver refining services. As an organization that strives to take better care of the environment, to cultivate safe and inclusive workplaces and to make a positive impact on the communities where it operates, the Mint integrates environmental, social and governance practices in every aspect of its operations.

For more information on the Mint, its products, and services, visit www.mint.ca.

 

Press Contact

aXedras AG

Philipp Stockinger, Head of Business Development, philipp.stockinger@axedras.com, +41 (0) 58 806 2228


Royal Canadian Mint

Alex Reeves, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, reeves@mint.ca, +1 (0) 613 884 5370

Note: This interview is for informational purposes only. The information does not constitute investment advice or an offer to invest.

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