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Australian company CommChain has used Central Queensland coal shipments in a ground-breaking Proof of Concept for a blockchain-based system for bulk commodities.

The fourth and final vessel in the July trial left Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal for Japan last week.

CommChain says the trial proved blockchain-enabled, end-to-end trade for bulk commodity logistics and trade settlement was a step closer to commercial reality.

Executive chairman Gary Zamel said the company’s vision was to create a “step-change” in the bulk commodity industry which, despite transporting $278 billion worth of exports, still used outdated systems.

Mr Zamel said the success of the Proof of Concept was timely given the release of a report by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) that notes the inevitability of digital disruption in Australian society.

“This Proof of Concept has illustrated that blockchain-based processes are commercially viable and bringing enormous benefits to industry in the form of savings of both cost and time, security and provenance,” Mr Zamel said.

“Immutable data is a great warehouse for data that can be analysed by AI to identify enhanced value capture if other choices were made.

“Further, the CommChain platform offers a solution to the industry’s desire for greater visibility along the supply chain to support purchasing decisions and practices.

“We have received significant interest from stakeholders, which includes our suppliers, transport logistics, traders and buyers.”

The CommChain Proof of Concept was conducted through TransCoal in collaboration with several parties along the supply chain, including Jellinbah Resources and Stanmore Coal.

The four cargoes exported during the July Proof of Concept were valued at $US15.25 million and included departures from RG Tanna Coal Terminal.

Faster payments, better asset utilisation

CommChain co-founder and director Faith Dempsey said the experiment would improve efficiency and liquidity for companies as the speed and accuracy of information would optimise asset utilisation on the supply chain and lead to faster payments.

“An immediate benefit to the coal industry is the elimination of the liquidity ‘air-gap’ for those sales agreements which rely on paper-based shipping documents being delivered to the buyer to commence the payment process,” she said.

“In addition, the risk of losing or delaying document delivery via couriers is eliminated. These efficiencies can also be applied to the buyer’s business with their end-users if blockchain technology is used.

“I’m excited about what a mature blockchain environment can deliver for our rail and port operators.   If we can deliver them the ‘big data’ that will allow them to maximise and more efficiently run their operations, then all parties should benefit with moving more coal through existing infrastructure and thereby delivering those most-needed cost reductions.

“Let the Australian resources industry be a leader in this field, not a follower.”

New global trading process trialed for bulk commodities