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How blockchain technology amplifies mining industry efficiency


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mining equipment

The mining and metals sector has been around for thousands of years. As the founder of a tech company setting out to innovate the industry, I’m often asked why innovate given the industry’s continued success.

At MineHub, we asked ourselves how can large companies adopt innovative technologies to generate efficiencies, without creating disruption?

You see, lots of technology companies boast about the disruptive potential of their offerings, but in truth, most companies don’t want to be disrupted. MineHub’s core focus is to innovate fast and efficiently — and to do so without creating a large amount of disruption. Our goal is to create change with as little disruption as possible.

A barrier to efficiency — access to accurate, real-time information

Innovating to create efficiencies in large enterprises, including those in the mining industry, often comes down to better access to accurate, real-time information.

Today, the choice for sharing information usually comes down to two methods: using email to send documents and information directly or using a trusted third party acting as a data repository. Both methods are cumbersome, often insecure, and information is out of date as soon as it’s sent.

Blockchain technology unlocks the door to efficient information sharing

Blockchain technology solves several problems with traditional information-sharing technologies. MineHub has established a consortium of leading industry participants — including industry-leading mining, technology and banking companies — to help build a blockchain platform to manage high-value assets across the supply chain, from the mine to end buyer. Companies participate in a common network on which to share data, eliminating the need for a trusted third-party to manage the data and transactions.

The MineHub blockchain platform gives all the consortium members secure access to the real-time data relevant to them. Participants retain full control, security and ownership of their own data. It still resides on their servers under their security policies, and they decide the permissions for who sees the data. But now, they can seamlessly share that data with their relevant counterparts, which allows all parties to make much more informed and often faster business decisions — a critical component to driving operational efficiency.

Each type of supply chain participant will see its own relevant benefits. For example, mining companies gain real-time visibility on whether their assets are moving through the platform to the intended recipient. For banks on the MineHub platform, the ability to issue and track letters of credit for assets in real time provides better liquidity management.

MineHub consortium relies on industry-leading technology, services

MineHub initially developed the consortium independently, but we then decided to seek out technology partners with blockchain expertise. We ultimately selected IBM for both its IBM Blockchain technology and the business value and expertise of its technical services.

Because of its existing relationships with many of the consortium members on the platform, IBM’s participation helped boost confidence that we could deliver the technology based on the requirements and timelines that we laid out. Using IBM Blockchain Platform allowed us to build a very secure and private blockchain platform that not only meets, but also exceeds the requirements of the MineHub consortium members.

The IBM technical team not only helped us build the core infrastructure but is also helping us explore our larger business strategy. In addition to providing their technical expertise, they’re also a critical part of our go-to-market strategy and developing and scaling the MineHub business and platform.

Future challenges and opportunities for the blockchain consortium

If someone is thinking of building a similar consortium supported by blockchain technology, the first thing I would say is that the technology itself is not that complex.

The bigger challenges we face are integrating the technology into multiple companies at the same time and managing the governance of the platform as we build the consortium. We keep in mind that our purpose in building smarter business through technology for the mining industry is all about innovation and efficiency, with minimal disruption. As we evolve and decide on the future features for the MineHub platform, we ensure each member has a seat at the table.

Want to make your supply chain more secure and accurate with real-time visibility?

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders, academic experts and partners, to share their opinions and insights on current trends in blockchain to the Blockchain Pulse blog. While the opinions in these blog posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM, this blog strives to welcome all points of view to the conversation.

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