Blockchain might have been initially just associated with the crypto industry, the latter being the technology’s first successful use case, over the years, it has been a disruptive force across industries. In the past decade of its existence blockchain has successfully made a strong impression on major global sectors, with scalable applications and system integration.
The blockchain reformation in different sectors continues, with landmark changes in the mining sector, which has been hitting the headlines for a while now. The growing influence and use of blockchain technology in the mining industry are assuring transparency, traceability, and accountability within the mineral supply chain, emphasizing the ones that are mined in high-risk conflict zones.
Blockchain in Mining Industry
Provenance tracing of mineral ore is not unheard of in the mining industry. Several mining companies use paperwork in the form of certificates to track the production, sourcing, and manufacturing. The age of digitization and the advent of blockchain has led to the evolution of that process, where instead of a paper trail, all sourcing and supply details are now stored and tracked on a blockchain network. This adds more security and accountability to the whole supply chain management.
Blockchain presents a decentralized database that upholds a better infrastructure that is more secure, enabling the tracing of raw minerals from the point of their origin through digital certificates. These certificates all the companies involved in the supply chain to verify whether the mineral has been sourced sustainably without breaking any environmental and humanitarian laws. The aim of using blockchain in the mining industry is to fight corruption, child labor, human rights abuse, and environmental degradation.
In a blockchain-integrated system, the data is recorded in the form of blocks throughout the distributed network creating a chain of immutable records. In the mining industry, he blocks comprise of information related to mineral sourcing and mining along with the other steps involved in the supply chain. Once information is entered into the blockchain it cannot be changed or altered without a consensus from the majority of the network participants. Even then the alteration has to be saved in a fresh block.
Blockchain-Mining Use Cases
Now, that it is clear how blockchain in the mining industry work let’s discuss the real-life use cases that have set precedence in the world and the industry.
USA-based HashCash Consultants has been pioneering the blockchain integration of the mineral supply chain. They have two notable projects in that area, one of which involves diamond sourcing and supply and the other is related to cobalt mining. In collaboration with a consortium of global diamond merchants, banks, and other key industry players, HashCash played a crucial role in the development of the Diamante blockchain, a DLT network used for supply chain management of diamonds. The leading blockchain development company has also forged a partnership with a leading mining corporation and multiple small mining groups in Congo for ethical sourcing of cobalt for the manufacture of batteries for Electric cars.
Minespider, a technology start-up based out of Berlin has initiated an open-source blockchain protocol that facilitates responsible sourcing and tracking of raw materials. Founded in 2018, the company has collaborated with Google to enable tracking the tin supply chain transparently. In a separate collaboration, the company is tracing the supply of lead with Volkswagen from its point of origin to the manufacturing factories. The Minespider blockchain protocol generates digital certificates separating the data into three layers, with variations concerning the visibility of the data publicly, or maintaining transparency just between participants of the supply chain, or a completely private infrastructure between the company and the consumer.
Depending on the adoption of blockchain in the mining industry, experts are saying that it will become clearer which supply chain actors are maintaining responsibility and participating transparently, also abolishing any kind of anonymity within the supply chain that is uncalled for in this technologically evolved world. Companies that presently track on the blockchain are the ones that are doing good and honest work, which created a benchmark in the industry, promoting and upholding the responsibility that the industry has in maintaining integrity in the mineral sourcing supply chain. Hopefully, this advancement will accelerate a robust change within the industry globally and educate the consumers about their responsibility as well.