Blockchain technology is changing the world of commerce and law, now it can be used to track real world blocks instead of just digital blocks. The technology got attention thanks to the rise of Bitcoin, which is still going strong, and has been improved since then. More recent takes on the technology like Ethereum have evolved blockchains to be more robust, faster, and malleable for unique circumstances. A new startup, Peer Ledger, wants to use this technology to monitor ethical mining practices.
However, Ms. Jutla says there is mounting pressure from the international community to stop the unethical production of minerals, and she says Peer Ledger’s Mimosi product provides a solution to this problem. Mimosi uses a private permissioned blockchain, which chronologically and permanently logs information that’s copied across a computer network accessed by multiple collaborating parties. When a transaction is carried out, it’s grouped together in a cryptographically protected block. In the case of the Mimosi technology, every transaction involving a source of ore can be linked back to older blocks containing previous sales transactions for the ore. This allows Mimosi users to trace gold and other precious and industrial metals (mainly tin, tantalum and tungsten) from the refiner, to the processor, to the distributor.
Ms. Jutla is confident customers will want Mimosi. Not only does she think the technology will make it tougher for unethical sources of precious and industrial metals to make it into the supply chain, she says it will reduce a client’s compliance costs in this area by 75 per cent.
Despite our technological advances modern civilization relies on mineral resources just as much (if not more) than we did in the past. Our computers need rare earth material to work and other products need metals like aluminum. Recycling isn’t perfect and isn’t plentiful around the world. All of these factors contribute to our need for the mining industry. Unless we change our purchases we will continue to fund mining corporations.
Obviously, the first thing you can do to help alleviate mining pressure on the world is to consume less. The second thing you can do is buy used goods, then lastly recycle. The saying “reduce, reuse, recycle” is in that order for a reason.
For a more direct approach you can join the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network which is an organization focussed on making the world a better place. This week in Toronto there is a major mining convention and the MISN is there trying to (ironically) disrupt it and educate people. The first step to positive change is knowing that it’s needed and that’s what MISN is trying to do.
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), organizes the world’s largest mining convention every year in Toronto in March and carries out lobbying efforts in favour of the Canadian mining industry throughout the rest of the year. They describe themself as “the leading voice of the mineral exploration and development community” and claim to encourage “best practices in technical, operational, environmental, safety and social performance”. Meanwhile, Canadian mining companies are far and away the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world (according to a global study commissioned by PDAC itself but never made public).
The PDAC convention is dedicated to telling compelling stories about the mining industry’s successes and innovations, especially in the realm of “corporate social responsibility” and sustainability. But we know better! Let’s not let them get away with using this convention as yet another shiny PR opportunity to cover up industry harms and repress dissent.
Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala have been resisting the push of Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals into their land. This resistance has been met by dubious practices by the Toronto-based mining corporation and now they are being brought to court. A group supporting the Q’eqchi’ communities is looking to bring attention to this matter as well as gather signatures to present.
Q’eqchi’ communities in the Izabal region of Guatemala have faced an onslaught of these and other abuses over the past five decades at the hands of a series of Canadian mining companies who have owned the Fenix Nickel Project.
On April 4th 2014 a criminal trial will begin in Guatemala to seek justice for some of the countless acts of violence communities have faced – and continue to face – at the hands of these mining companies. On this day, Mynor Padilla, the former Head of Security for the mine, under the ownership of Canadian company Hudbay Minerals and local subsidiary CGN, will be tried for the murder of Aldofo Ich Chamán. Ich Chamán was a respected Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader, father of six, and an open critic of human rights violations and environmental damage caused by corporate mining activities. Padilla will also be tried for the shooting of seven others on the same date, September 27, 2009 near El Estor, Izabal: Haroldo Cucul Cucul, German Chub Coc, Alejandro Chuc, Ricardo Acte Coc, Samuel Coc Chub, Alfredo Tzi Ich, and Luciano Choc. One man, German Chub, lives with a number of grave medical conditions as a result of this shooting, including a collapsed lung and a spinal cord injury that has left him paraplegic.
In a series of separate civil cases being heard in Canada, Hudbay Minerals and CGN are being tried for these shootings and the murder of Ich Chamán, while Hudbay Minerals is additionally being tried for gang-rapes committed in a nearby community during an eviction.