CERA 4in1 will be a standardized certification scheme ensuring environmental, social and economic sustainability in extraction, processing, trading and manufacturing of all mineral raw materials including fossil fuels.


CERA 4in1 will be the first universal and comprehensive certification scheme that accommodates all minerals and all regions.

In contrast to other sectors such as the forestry, food or textile sector, in which a comprehensive certification scheme for production and transport is already established an all-encompassing standard for the certification of mineral resources does not yet exist. In addition, the moral and ethical principles of the consumer when buying sustainably obtained and manufactured products and the political demand for compliance with social, ecological and financial principles are increasing. This implies the need to establish a complete and universally recognised certification system for the production, processing and traceable transport of all mineral resources.

The path that takes raw materials into the hands of consumers, from exploration and deposit, via processing, manufacturing and sales, is long and complex. It is a supply chain that draws together human and automated processes, developed and developing countries and varying tolerances towards a range of ethical considerations. Historically, along this supply chain it has been incumbent upon each extractive company, mineral processer, transporter or manufacturer to police and monitor its own standards over issues as diverse as corruption, environmental impact, working conditions, child labour and social good. The result is a porous and diffuse approach to how sustainability and ethics are defined from country to country, mineral to mineral, and organisation to organisation.

But in the last decade, the emphasis on ensuring that the production of raw materials meets a minimum standard of ethical, environmental and sustainability criteria has intensified. Partly this is as a result of increased consumer diligence and discernment on the high-street in the Global North. But punitive legislative environments, increased scrutiny from NGOs, wider ESG considerations and narrowing margins for competitive advantage, has persuaded constituent parts of the supply chain proactively to make clear the assurances they offer over the ethical, environmental and sustainability footprint of their operations and linkages.

This demand for transparency and traceability in the supply chain has been partly satisfied via the creation of certification schemes. But for modern consumer goods, the complexity of the supply chain for each raw material is now exponentiated by the complexity of the individual material makeup of the end product – from smart phones and laptops to Swiss watches and electric vehicles. Despite the interest of producers and consumers, the status quo renders it virtually impossible for any manufacturer to assure any consumer that the constituent parts of any purchased product have each been certified to any consistent standard.

Because whilst some effective certification schemes have been successfully incorporated into the supply chain for certain minerals, each is limited in scope by a specific geographical or ethical focus, a single mineral, a specific aspect of the upstream and downstream production or limited by the scale to which it is applicable. In spite of the growing demand for higher transparency, no universal metric, methodology, appraiser nor success criteria exist to guarantee the ethical and sustainable supply and use of raw materials. To address this, CERA 4in1 will be the first universal and comprehensive certification scheme that accommodates all minerals and all regions.

CERA 4in1 will be the first certification scheme that ensures a cost-effective, universal and standardised evaluation of environmental, social and economic sustainability in extraction, processing, trading and manufacturing of all raw materials. CERA 4in1 will also guarantee traceability and sustainable production processes of certified materials along the entire value chain, making “seamless sustainability” a possibility for the first time.

There are currently over 100 different certification schemes for raw materials, so CERA 4in1 will solve a cross-industry problem of universality and standardisation by creating the first holistic solution for a comprehensive certification regarding all mineral resources and regions at a systemic level. CERA 4in1 will act as a host framework to allow existing and successful certification schemes to coexist, provided they are considered to meet the general CERA 4in1 requirements. The coexistence and cooperation of various certification schemes under the CERA 4in1 scheme will result in the development of top‐level quality certification standards that will benefit all participating stakeholders and actors along the value chain. Ultimately this will enable the end‐user to make informed choices, while streamlining the method through which value chain actors guarantee the environmental, social and economic sustainability of their operations and linkages.

How it WORKS

The CERA 4in1 system brings together four consecutive standards under one certification scheme, with each considering a different aspect and stage of the raw materials value chain while building on each other. CERA 4in1 certification addresses Readiness, Performance, Chain of Custody and Final Product.

Under CERA 4in1, applicant value chain actors apply to the CERA 4in1 Association for candidacy and in pursuit of certification for their exploration, processing or handling of raw materials. Applicants’ existing performance is audited and compared to the relevant CERA 4in1 criteria with a gap analysis identifying areas in which performance does not meet the CERA 4in1 standard requirements. CERA 4in1 candidates can work with consultants to improve processes to meet the CERA 4in1 standard requirements and following a final on-site audit a CERA 4in1 certificate can be issued.

CERA 4in1’s certification will be hosted on a public ledger which allows third-parties to verify the validity of any CERA 4in1 certificate attached to documents, processes or raw materials. CERA 4in1 will operate a Hybrid database model. This model combines a public and a classified database, with detailed information about documents, processes, price and materials accessible only to certificate owners and business users via blockchain technology; whilst public access will be limited only to validate certificates.

CERA 4in1 Roles

To enshrine expertise, independence and impartiality at each stage of the CERA 4in1 certification process, several parties are involved in how CERA 4in1’s standards are defined, measured and audited.

The CERA 4in1 Association owns the CERA 4in1 standards and is responsible for the standard set-up, training, revisions and administration. The Association publishes lists of CERA 4in1 candidates, CERA 4in1-certified organisations, and nominates the accreditation bodies, registers consultants and certification bodies, and is responsible for issuing CERA 4in1 certificates and labels. The CERA 4in1 Association will be established during 2020.

The Accreditation Body is responsible for accreditation, surveillance and re-accreditation of certification bodies, granting authority to perform certification audits under the CERA 4in1 standards.

The Certification Body certifies if all rules, requirements and implementation details of the respective CERA 4in1 standard are met. It communicates the result of its certification of a CERA 4in1 candidate to the CERA 4in1 Association.

Where gaps from analysis are identified in the course of assessement, CERA 4in1 Candidates may require additional advice or guidance on meeting the CERA 4in1 standard and can work with consultants. Consultants interested in offering their services to CERA 4in1 candidates or CERA 4in1 certified organisations can register with the CERA 4in1 Association.

CERA 4in1 candidates include any organisation requesting certification under the CERA 4in1 certification scheme. Prospective candidates signal their request for certification to the CERA 4in1 Association by letter of intent, stating its intention to fulfil the CERA 4in1 standards criteria within one year of application. If a CERA 4in1 candidate cannot show compliance with all relevant CERA 4in1 requirements within one year, it loses the CERA 4in1 candidate status. Following completion of the certification process, successful candidates are awarded a CERA 4in1 certificate and may communicate this status with a CERA 4in1 label. In case of the Chain of Custody, the material in question rather than the company, is awarded the CERA 4in1 label.