Australian mining giant BHP has reportedly said it is to explore the use of blockchain for the sale of iron ore.

Chinese firm Baosteel is the expected buyer, with the deal to be taking place “soon”.

As with all things blockchain related, the threat is that any explanation will devolve into hype and buzzwords, so it is helpful to have a clear definition of what blockchain involves. Essentially a distributed list or ledger, the blockchain contains chronological records of transactions signed cryptographically, shared between all participants in a network. Its benefits lie in its traceability, making transparent dealings along a supply chain, as well as its ability to secure the authenticity of items.

The blockchain market has been estimated to be worth $8.68bn by the end of 2024. A survey conducted last year by Deloitte found that 83% of respondents said that their organisations could see compelling use cases for the technology, with more than half seeing blockchain as a critical priority.

Blockchain itself was identified by Gartner as a top 10 tech trend for 2020, with this news from BHP seemingly verifying their choice. BHP has recently been in the news for its ongoing efforts as the sector is hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with the firm implementing social distancing, health screening and hygiene accessibility measures.

The news comes as BHP completed a transaction of iron ore to China Baoshan Iron & Steel Co Ltd in China’s RMB currency. Worth nearly $14.1mn, the sale came after Baosteel also used RMB to pay for iron ore from Brazilian firm Vale SA in January, representing a trend for RMB to be used internationally.

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