We’re in the year of blockchain.
Blockchain technology has already gained widespread traction. Blockchain technology is creating new and emerging opportunities for organisations in all sectors are emerging to create and deliver compelling services to customers using the power of disruptive innovation. Always looking for ways to improvising and cutting inefficiencies, mining sector can sure leverage blockchain as pioneer.
Use Case 1. Digital Identity (DIAP) for Assets and People
Security is an integral part of mine operations. It is designed to protect the integrity of the company, people working in the operations, equipment assets and physical property against hostile acts with people being the principal assets. No wonders, in most mines all potential employees and contractors are subject to the successful completion of a rigorous background screening. Sensitive areas in precious mineral mining are full of multi-layered physical and technological safeguards like controlled access to high-security areas, constant surveillance etc. The landscape is quite challenging
- The mining industry relies on large numbers of staff and machinery constantly moving around sites with adverse environmental conditions. This results in varying system components that can span across multiple mine sites and regions.
- The advancements in technology have enabled machines to be operated from remote locations. The Internet of Things (IoT) is adding to the complexity by introducing capabilities to manage complete digital mines from remote locations.
- Cyber security is adding to the challenges.
The Solution- The first step to security is establishing the identity. Blockchain infrastructure that uses public/private key encryption and data hashing to safely store and exchange identity data holds tremendous potential as mining companies can enhance security by introducing an innovative, mobile identity management solution using blockchain (DIAP). This identity data may include biometrics like fingerprints, facial maps, iris patterns, and voice depending upon the sensitivity of the information and access.
Implementation of a mobile DIAP has various advantages that range from the convergence of IT and physical security presence; integration of process control to accurate reporting and frauds. Blockchain technology’s use of a group-consensus algorithm can be used to catch intentional or inadvertent double spending of an asset, an accounts-receivable blockchain application can provide “multiple eyes” to prevent double invoicing. Similarly, a counterfeit-catching purchasing blockchain can enable counterfeits from entering the systems immutable ledger that allows third parties to validate that the original data or certification has not been changed or misrepresented.
Use Case 2. Data Integrity
One of the most useful use case of blockchain includes creating trust and transparency. Blockchain is helpful in ensuring data integrity as each block of information from mining operations (like rig data) is time stamped and verified
Use Case 3. Provenance
One of the most useful use case of blockchain includes creating trust and transparency. Provenance of products is one important aspect in mining industry to
- Prevent conflicts
- Establish the geochemical characterizations of metals to eliminate corruption at the source
- Carbon footprints to ensure sustainability and cost advantage
- Enable anyone to trace ownership as well as the specific geographic location of the ore beneath the earth’s surface.
- Ensuring data integrity as each block of information from mining operations (like rig data) is time stamped and verified
The Kimberly Process, responsible for providing certificates of origin and serial numbers to ensure diamonds on the market are not blood diamonds, is already investigating moving to a blockchain based system. A paper based certificate might be forged but not the blockchain. Similarly, another process takes care of forgery in gold by putting gold bars on a blockchain for tracking,
Use Case 4. Cradle to grave blockchain for the Assets
Creating a cradle to grave ledger of assets including maintenance records will enable multiple advantages especially as this ledger can be shared in the ecosystem of equipment owner, OEM and service providers to drive decisions.
- Predictive maintenance of assets- to increase in uptime of assets via better predictive maintenance of assets thus optimizing the equipment usage and reducing costs.
- Better usage of assets- It will also enable better visibility of assets enabling sharing of assets across sites.
- Ecosystem partners can assess the shared ledger to take decisions on regular and preventive maintenance. Even an asset (intelligent) could analyse the blockchain for maintenance and operator information and send reminders if proper maintenance has not been done
- Automated payments once work is completed
- Detection of intentional or inadvertent double spending of an asset (use of a group-consensus algorithm)
- Prevent double invoicing (An accounts-receivable blockchain application can provide “multiple eyes”)
- Prevent counterfeits from entering the system (A counterfeit-catching purchasing blockchain)
- A proof of system maintenance for internal and external compliance
Use Case 5. Workflow Automation by combining digital technologies like IoT with Blockchain
Mine operations have specifics and can be quite complex. Automation of processes, increase Efficiency and reduces cost.
Mining companies can use Blockchain Technology to more efficiently process the rapidly growing amounts of data being generated from connected devices. As data from IoT devices is created as usable blocks, it can be used to further optimize the business processes to enable near self-managing IoT.
- Automate the workflow and analytics to achieve digital mines
- Automatic reordering of consumable stock when supplies run low
- Automation of payment upon completion of work
- In September 2016, BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining firm by market value, announced that it was planning to use Blockchain technology to record movements of fluid samples and wellbore rock and to secure the data that is transmitted during delivery. It planned to use this technology to collect live data by the end of 2016. According to their analysis, through Blockchain, they would be replacing the current system in which samples worth up to $100 million are inefficiently tracked through email and spreadsheets.
Use Case 6. Supply Chains Optimization
Blockchain could also be used in more complex supply chains.
- Tracking and traceability for minerals from extraction to the point of sale, satisfying increasing consumer demand for both increased supply chain transparency and more environmentally sound products.
- Identifying any supply chain weak spots or substitution risks
- Better acceptance of products sourced in less regulated environments by identifying the substitution risks
- Blockchain technology can be used for automation of invoice factoring process. The whole process of suppliers posting invoices on this platform, approvals to release funds against approved invoices can be automated once a trust based mechanism is implemented. This drastically reduces time and effort involved in to and fro of information for taking approvals and eliminates physical paper work.
- When product is delivered to a customer, either the customer or even the transportation vehicle itself can assert to the blockchain that delivery has happened and the terms of payment get automatically executed and settled.
- Posted invoices can be tokenized, thus making it impossible to make any alteration and hence eliminating fraudulent invoices.
- Blockchain based Smart contracts can be used to create models and simulations to test various outcomes based on any number of factors, and because they execute against a blockchain, execution and settlement tend to happen simultaneously.
Use Case 7. Use case- Tokenized Mines
Blockchain technology can be used to tokenize complete mines or its smaller units, like single cubic meter parcels.
- Liquid Marketplace- Once tokenized, the geo-tagged mine and parcels could then be traded thus providing a boost to the liquidity situation of miners much in advance of actual production while creating value for the unmined ore (A blockchain model for energy trading is already in the offing)
- Allow for the distribution, sale and trading without the costs and overhead involved in equivalent physical world manipulations of the asset.
- Enables the governments to securitize reserves before auctions and in fixing the royalty from mining operations
- Linking tokens to the physical tag enables in detection of fraud like the ore body is physically moved or otherwise disturbed and may notify the ore’s owners or even initiate law enforcement.
Use Case 8. Use case- Workforce health record
Work Health and Safety is a major concern in entire mine sector. Any non- compliance is punishable in most countries. Countries like Zambia have already introduced One Health Record System (OHRS)”, for all workers in the mining and related industries. The regulations include not just maintaining the data, but also transfer of information between workplaces, health providers, and different companies when workers changed jobs, role or places of work.
- Blockchain technology can be used to securely store and share electronic medical records of the mining workers while ensuring compliance to the regulations. Blockchains applied to healthcare will solve the interoperability challenge of electronic medical records.
Use Case 9. Human Resources Management
Human Resources, also tasked with managing and protecting corporate and personal information at scale as well as keeping employees motivated. Any technology that enables better management of employee related tasks is always welcomed by HR. Block chain a faster, more efficient way to
- Verify and maintain the credentials of job candidates, a system that could save precious time and dollars in confirming the education, certifications, work experience or skills of applicants
- makes international payroll less complex and costly, allowing for more timely and efficient cross-border payments to global employees.
- Managing worker benefits like insurance and settlements