Open Mineral plans blockchain consortium for minerals trading

LONDON, July 9 (Reuters) - Online metal concentrates exchange Open Mineral is seeking to build a consortium of mining companies and financial institutions to create a blockchain system for minerals trading and logistics.

Swiss-based Open Mineral said in a statement on Monday it was joining forces with U.S. blockchain start-up ConsenSys to establish Minerac, aiming to make mineral trading and supply chains more efficient.

“Logistics are complex, financing is difficult to acquire and the entire process is very paper heavy,” said Open Mineral Chief Executive Boris Eykher.

“Thus, the industry is primed for blockchain disruption to simplify the trading process, (and) increase efficiency and profitability.”

ConsenSys, which uses the Ethereum blockchain platform, has already set up consortiums for the oil industry and trade finance, Eykher said.

Blockchain works as a huge, decentralised ledger of transactions, which is verified and shared by a global computer network and therefore virtually tamper-proof.

Some mining firms have already signed up to the consortium while discussions are underway with other miners and financial institutions, he added, declining to identify them.

“Minerac will allow stakeholders to securely exchange critical trade documents, such as bills of lading and letters of credit, via the use of smart contracts,” the statement said.

A group of former traders from commodity house Glencore last year launched Open Mineral, an online platform that aims to allow mining companies and smelters to cut out the middlemen and save cash on deals for concentrates.

Minerac aims to connect the minerals supply chain from mining to shipping, surveying, warehousing and financing.

Sealed bags of minerals would be stamped with tamper-proof identification that will allow them to be traced to help ensure that they are coming from compliant and conflict-free regions, the statement said. (Reporting by Eric Onstad; Editing by Jan Harvey)