Tag Archives: supply chain

MineHub adds BHP, China Baowu to blockchain-based supply chain platform

BHP and China Baowu have completed their first iron ore trade on MineHub Technologies’ blockchain-based platform, according to the Vancouver-based digital supply chain company.

This is the first of a series of transactions with various industry partners, guiding the next evolution of functionality on the MineHub platform that will ultimately provide commodity supply chains with a fully digital end-to-end fulfilment process, MineHub said. “It also reflects MineHub’s development approach – hands-on collaboration and continuous validation with industry – to ensure that the platform delivers on the value and user experience expectations.”

The MineHub platform is built on the IBM Blockchain platform using the open-source Hyperledger Fabric standards. MineHub allows its customers to benefit from several innovations, according to the company, with the parties involved in selling, buying, delivering and paying for a cargo of minerals now able to collaborate securely in real-time, “working in an integrated cross-company workflow, sharing electronic information rather than couriering or emailing paper documents that are subject to interception, fraud and cyber threats”, MineHub said.

Arnoud Star Busmann, CEO of MineHub, said working with the world’s biggest miner and one of the world’s largest steel producers on “designing the digital future of critical supply chains” like iron ore is incredibly exciting.

“This series of transactions, each focusing on different aspects of the post-trade process, will allow MineHub to incrementally expand the platform’s functionality and scalability into the iron ore and other mineral commodity markets, incorporating real-life user experience,” he added.

MineHub is also developing and validating digital solutions in complementary settings and in collaboration with other industry partners, it said, adding that work was underway, for instance, in base metals concentrates, structured finance and emissions tracking.

Star Busmann continued: “We will incorporate these learnings into the next MineHub release, planned for Q4 (December quarter) 2020, which will start to provide a solution to the increasingly urgent need for industry-wide digitalisation, by boosting both safety, transparency and resilience of critical supply chains. Especially as current pandemic events and fraud cases in the commodity trading industry are causing a step change in the adoption of digital solutions.”

MineHub says its blockchain-based platform helps the parties in a mineral transaction to virtually integrate their trade operations processes like contracting, logistics, specifications and financing services. This streamlines communication channels and also provides the transaction participants with security and certainty via a reliable, real-time single source of truth.

“The underlying blockchain technology ensures that each party can control the privacy, integrity and geographical residence of their data, whilst allowing trading and financing partners to use or verify the integrity of shared information,” MineHub says.

BHP increases procurement due diligence with new Ethical Supply Chain program

BHP says the launch of the BHP Ethical Supply Chain program will engage its suppliers in efforts to manage human rights risks throughout their supply chains and position the miner to respond to the evolving human rights landscape across its own supply chain.

The company said it recognised many men, women and children are today victims of human rights abuses, and a growth in regulatory instruments around the world is indicative of the increasing expectations on businesses to help address applicable human rights risks.

“We remain committed to the ongoing partnership with our suppliers to build long-lasting, productive and sustainable relationships to unlock shared value for all of our businesses,” BHP said.

As one of the world’s leading resources company with a procurement spend of $20 billion across 10,000 suppliers, BHP was aware of the responsibility and opportunity it has to identify, understand and seek to mitigate human rights risks across its supply chain together, it said.

In this respect, the launch of the BHP Ethical Supply Chain program is a key next step in the company’s shared sustainability journey.

BHP’s Chief Procurement Officer, Sundeep Singh, said: “The Ethical Supply Chain program continues our commitment to increasing the level of transparency in our supply chain and partnering with our supply base to do this – it remains a critical consideration for anyone that wants to do business with us.

“With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we must continue our positive collaboration and recognise the need to be aware of and reactive to the risks for downstream supply chain workers and vulnerable people. Human rights violations are the furthest anyone could possibly be from the shared value we want to generate with our partners.”

BHP’s Ethical Supply Chain Guide provides industry standards and guiding principles to help suppliers develop their own policies and processes to meet the recently updated Minimum Requirements for Suppliers, it said.

Adhering to these minimum requirements are a prerequisite to doing business with BHP, it said.

The program will be underpinned by supplier due diligence processes, which will be managed by the company’s Ethical Supply Chain team, the company added.

Epiroc posts Q1 results as it braces for future COVID-19 impacts

“We expect that the demand both for equipment and in the aftermarket will be lower and that the effects of the pandemic will have a significant negative impact on revenues and profit in Q2 (June quarter).” That is the headline quote from Epiroc CEO, Helena Hedblom, in the mining OEM’s March quarter results.

While the prospects for the current quarter look far from rosy, the results for the March quarter were reasonably strong: revenues dipped only 7% (SEK9.134 billion ($903 million)) year-on-year, profits rose 3% to SEK1.4 billion and operating cash flow jumped 225% to SEK1.5 billion.

Despite Epiroc’s China business being hit in February, and its manufacturing facilities for consumables in India, South Africa, and Canada (Quebec) being temporarily closed from the end of March, there were limited COVID-19-related effects on its March quarter results, the company stated.

As the impacts of the pandemic continue to grow with restrictions from various governments and authorities, the impact has started to be felt more acutely by Epiroc. Hedblom told analysts after the results release that the commissioning of new equipment was becoming harder with such restrictions in place, as was the transportation of its products. On the latter, the company commented that its costs had risen.

Fortunately, the company is in the middle of a wide-ranging revamp to its supply chain that is seeing key parts and service personnel redeployed to hubs near its major customers. Although this program is not yet complete, the availability of local inventory has somewhat dampened the impact of the COVID-19-related restrictions to date.

Similarly, the company has managed to navigate a supply shortage of certain components in Europe, Hedblom said. Speaking to IM after the analyst call, she said the manufacturing teams were utilising existing component stockpiles to complete outstanding tasks.

Just how many future tasks the manufacturing team has all depends on how long mine stoppages in the likes of South Africa, Canada, Peru and India continue. While South Africa miners are set for a phased ramp up of operations and those miners in Quebec have been given the go ahead to reopen, there are many mines that remain on care and maintenances.

Hedblom said these dynamics were very different to financial downturns where specific commodities and companies with lower margins were hit due to cashflow issues.

“It is evenly split between different commodities,” she said referring to the shutdowns. “There are plenty of gold mines in there, for instance, and that is despite the gold price holding up well.”

During this time – and factoring in potential future supply chain issues – Epiroc is prioritising its aftermarket customers to keep existing mines operating.

One would estimate the percentage of revenue associated with aftermarket sales would, therefore, grow beyond the 72% registered in the March quarter (which itself is an 8% rise from the December quarter) based on the assumption mining companies would defer new equipment purchases until restrictions had been lifted and global economies had stabilised.

This would also mirror the March quarter results where Epiroc recognised a 12% organic increase in service orders, compared with the previous year, at the same time as orders for equipment, rock drilling tools and attachments decreased.

Yet, this all depends on how long existing mine stoppages are enforced.

Epiroc said: “Mining is deemed essential in many countries, which means that most mines continue to operate, but in some cases mines have temporarily stopped operations or operate at reduced capacity due to restrictions from governments and authorities.

“As a consequence, Epiroc estimates that revenues from the aftermarket will be negatively impacted in Q2. The magnitude of the impact will depend on how the restrictions will develop during the quarter.”

While the company is up front in its assessment that revenues and profits will be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the June quarter, the new CEO said the company would continue to invest in R&D throughout this period.

“We have consolidated in admin and marketing, in addition to manufacturing (see the latest announcement on its North Bay facility), but I am protecting R&D,” Hedblom told IM. In late November, Hedblom said the company was currently investing 2-3% of revenue in R&D.

Previous R&D investments have led to the development of many innovative products from Epiroc – mainly geared towards automation, digitalisation and electrification – and Hedblom said some “very exciting products” would be launched later this year, regardless of COVID-19 restrictions.

Some of these new products will likely help miners continue operating in environments such as those being experienced now, with Hedblom seeing the automation trend the company recognised, pre-COVID-19, picking up where it left off, post-COVID-19.

“The more people you can remove from the mine site and the more you can control the environment in which they work (remote operations, for instance), the better,” she said.

BHP supports local suppliers with reduced payment terms

As part of its response to the spread of COVID-19, BHP says it is accelerating payment of outstanding invoices and the reduction of payment terms for its small business partners and regional communities.

This support will see payment terms cut from 30 days to seven days for more than 1,100 small Australian businesses from next week, it said.

The accelerated payment program is expected to deliver around A$100 million ($57 million) more quickly into the hands of its small business partners, the company said. In this context, a small business is defined as generating less than A$10 million in revenue.

BHP CEO, Mike Henry, said looking after the wellbeing and safety of its people, communities and partners is the highest priority.

“We are taking action to reduce the risk of transmission at our sites, in our offices and in our communities. Our local and small business partners play a critical role in supporting our operations and our people, and we know this is a very difficult time for them. We must look out for each other as we manage through this together,” Henry said.

BHP has also created a A$6 million fund to support its labour hire companies and their employees. The fund will be used for one-off payments for people quarantined after entering Australia and pay for labour hire employees not entitled to sick leave but affected by COVID-19, it said.

The miner said operations at its sites continue with additional monitoring and procedures in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among its workforce, clarifying that, as things currently stand, there have been no material impacts on its operations or supply chain.

MineHub adds commodity trade finance expert to blockchain platform

MineHub has added London-based asset management company Kimura Capital to its growing consortium of industry participants.

The news comes just a few weeks after the technology platform to improve efficiency in trading operations and environmental and social governance (ESG) compliance in mining and metals supply chains confirmed it was ready for its first blockchain customers.

Kimura, a specialist in commodity trade finance with expertise in financing complex logistical operations, is a member of the Alternative Investment Management Association.

“Kimura’s experience in finance will provide another important source of financial liquidity within the mining and metals ecosystem,” MineHub said. “The partnership with MineHub will be instrumental in driving the innovation within the industry.”

The company continued: “With financial institutions adapting to a changing regulatory environment, the provision of alternative finance plays an increasingly important role in facilitating the availability of credit, not just for trade finance, but also project and institutional finance. Improving access to capital is therefore a core part of the MineHub value proposition and a key area of focus is on enabling an integrated mix of institutional and alternative finance actors to provide new financing structures.”

MineHub has been working on this technology platform in collaboration with IBM and leaders across the mining supply chain including ING Group, Wheaton Precious Metals, Ocean Partners USA, Kutcho Copper, Capstone Mining and White & Case LLP. It went live earlier this month, with the company saying initial usage and transactions with consortium members was anticipated to commence within the next few weeks.

Arnoud Star Busmann, CEO of MineHub, said having Kimura on board as a consortium member is very strategic for MineHub.

“Offering optionality in financing sources is core to our strategy and Kimura is a clear leader in this sector, both in size and diversity, as well as their commitment to innovation, technology and sustainability.”

He added: “Working with Kimura and their peers, in conjunction with commercial banks and other financial institutions, MineHub will improve the working capital options and costs for miners, traders and other users. Our solutions will serve both large corporates and SMEs within the market, whilst contributing to responsible supply chains by linking risk pricing to ESG profiles of minerals.”

Kristofer Tremaine, CEO and Founder of Kimura Capital, said digitisation is the future for the market.

“Kimura has developed its business by selecting best-in-class partners in order to strengthen its overall offering. We are delighted to begin a partnership with MineHub whom have outstanding potential and represent Kimura’s first cooperation in the digitisation of commodity trade flows.”

MineHub added: “Digitalisation, transparency and automation will help reduce operational and fraud risks, thereby lowering the barriers to entry for alternative financing sources. Increased operational efficiencies and automation of ESG compliance will enable alternative financing houses to serve more clients without increasing operations and overheads.”

Weir Minerals Africa’s supply chain efforts providing miner payback

Weir Minerals Africa has been upgrading its supply chain system over the past four years and the company says its mining customers are feeling the positive effects.

According to Weir Minerals Africa’s supply chain director Luhann Holtzhausen, the company ships almost 800,000 bespoke items each year from its main distribution hub in Alrode, near Johannesburg, South Africa.

Leveraging both modern technology and an innovative management approach, it has raised its warehouse stock accuracies to 98% over the past four years, above the global benchmark of around 95%, the company said.

Holtzhausen said: “Our streamlined supply chain management ensures 70% of our products and components are delivered within two weeks of a sales order being received. Our inventory accuracy has also raised the on-time delivery performance over the last year above 90%.”

Between 3,000 and 5,000 parts are shipped each day from the Weir Minerals Africa Alrode facility. These volumes have grown 20% year-on-year since 2016, which the new systems can still comfortably manage in a single-shift operation, according to the company.

Eleven to 14 super-link trucks, which range in capacity up to 30 t, leave the facility each week to destinations in southern and central Africa. In addition, there are two to four container loads shipped to other destinations by sea.

Holtzhausen said: “Our new systems and processes provide management with real-time visibility of demand and stock in all offices across Weir Minerals Africa’s 75 stocking locations. This also gives us end-to-end velocity measurement to monitor the flow of goods from receipt at our warehouse to the actual time of delivery at the customer’s location.”

The same systems are installed at the company’s newly upgraded Kitwe distribution facility in Zambia, streamlining its capacity as a strategic distribution hub for central and east Africa, Weir said.

The benefits for customers of these improvements in supply chain efficiency include reduced lead times and less possibility of stock-outs on customer’s sites, the company said. “This, in turn, gives mines improved availability of equipment, less downtime and higher productivity.”

Holtzhausen concluded: “A significant advantage of optimal supply chain management is that customers gain confidence in our ability to deliver. This means that they can start holding less stock themselves and free up substantial amounts of their working capital.”