Thursday, January 24, 2019



Congratulations
Silvia Peppoloni!


Congratulations to Silvia Peppoloni (IAPG Secretary General) for her new role within the International geoscience community!

Silvia is in charge as a new Councillor of the IUGS - International Union of Geological Sciences for 2018-2022. 

If you want to know more about Silvia, look at her profile published in Episodes (the journal of the IUGS): http://www.episodes.org/journalArchiveArticle.do

Some sentences from the Silvia's profile:
"Ever since I was a child, the grandeur of geological phenomena has fascinated me. For hours I used to listen astonished to my grandfather telling me stories about the Vesuvius Volcano: he was from Naples and had personally experienced the destruction of the last eruption in 1944. I remember perfectly the fear and wonder I was feeling while he talked me, the sense of impotence and precariousness that, in my imagination, the population must have felt; that perception of living in a “dancing land”, as my grandfather defined Italy. Perceiving that the Earth is a “living” planet and the strength of its processes is that generates similar responses in every living being: that’s where my love for geology comes from......."
(download Silvia's profile at: http://www.episodes.org/journalArchiveArticle.do)

Silvia's profile can be downloaded also at:
http://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/5195a5_7a2252617a064315810a1f970eb6350d.pdf


IUGS - International Union of Geological Sciences:
http://www.iugs.org



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IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics: 
http://www.geoethics.org

Wednesday, January 23, 2019



IAPG-Peru has a new coordinator


IAPG-Peru logo
Carlos Toledo Gutierrez (photo above) is the new coordinator of IAPG-Peru from 1 January 2019. "Have a good work!" Carlos.

Carlos Toledo Gutierrez is Geological Engineer, Magister in History, graduated with a master's degree in Engineering and Philosophy. Bachelor of Education, specialty history and geography and environmental education. Currently PhD studies in Philosophy. He is University professor and academic coordinator at the Antonio Ruiz de Montoya Jesuitas University and at the National University of San Marcos, and professor at the EAP Geological Engineering. He is also external mining consultant of EGEMASS - The Mining Society.

Sandra Paula Villacorta Chambi
Carlos takes over from Sandra Paula Villacorta Chambi in chairing the IAPG-Peru section.

IAPG wishes to thank Sandra Paula for the excellent job she has done in the last years, that brought IAPG-Peru to become the most important reality in actively promoting geoethics in South America.


IAPG has 30 national sections:
http://www.geoethics.org/sections



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IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics: 
http://www.geoethics.org

Thursday, January 17, 2019




Geoethics at the HEGC-1

Katmandu (Nepal), 12-13 May 2019


HEGC-1 - First Himalayan Engineering Geological Congress

IAPG Special Session:
Geoethics in Engineering Geology: doing the right thing while managing the geological environment


Ranjan Kumar Dahal
Convener:
Ranjan Kumar Dahal (IAPG-Nepal co-coordinator).

Description of the IAPG Special Session:
IAEG defines “Engineering Geology” as “the science devoted to the investigation, study and solution of the engineering and environmental problems which may arise as the result of the interaction between geology and the works and activities of man as well as to the prediction and of the development of measures for prevention or remediation of geological hazards”. This definition implies evident ethical and social implications in geo-engineering research and practice. In fact, the interaction man-Earth system produces surely modifications in natural dynamics and equilibria, so managing the natural/geological environment requires great responsibilities by scientists, practitioners and industry in order to minimize the impact on ecosystems, to use geo-resources prudently, to protect the geoheritage and geodiversity, to respect local populations and their cultures. In addition, engineering geology is a fundamental discipline to help society to face natural hazards, to reduce geo-risks and to improve the societal resilience, through accurate scientific studies and effective geoengineering design. Geo-education campaigns and communication to population should be considered as fundamental collateral activities and a real social duty of every scientific activity. This session will collect abstracts discussing ethical and social aspects in engineering geology, from theoretical to practical issues, including case-studies.

Website:
https://nseg.org.np/hegc-i/iapg-special-session/



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IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics: 
http://www.geoethics.org

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Failing at a triple-point,
the ‘Anthropocene proposal’?

Martin Bohle
(IAPG Board of Experts, Belgium)


Martin Bohle
Introduction

The ‘Anthropocene proposal’ is about amending the Geological Time Scale namely, to introduce a new epoch, the ‘Anthropocene’. This essay [*] starts at a triple-point: global anthropogenic change happens, scientific methodological rigour applies, and “the Anthropocene for the first time gave birth to a universal ‘Anthropos’” (Hamilton, 2017, p.118). Additionally, it is assumed that ‘Anthropocene proposal’ is rejected (Rull, 2018) because it does not match the methodological rigour of the Geological Time Scale; what would unlock an ethical dilemma that then has to be tackled.

To set off; the vigour of the debates about ‘Anthropocene proposal’ indicates a profound matter. Its essence, whether we witness emerging “a kind of hybrid Earth, of nature injected with human will, however responsibly or irresponsibly that will may have been exercised” (Hamilton & Grinevald, 2015, p.68). Hence, the debates about the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ are about the ‘human condition’ how contemporary people live, collectively. What are the nuts and bolts?

Societal context

During its prehistoric and historical times already, humankind modified natural environments to appropriate resources for living and wellbeing (Zalasiewicz et al., 2018). Contemporary societies abundantly apply geosciences for their economic activities that bind through global supply chains the entire globe into one system (Bohle, 2017). Crafts-person, technicians, architects, and engineers implicitly apply geoscience knowledge when altering natural environments or creating artefacts, e.g. extraction of minerals, the laying the foundations for buildings, or managing floodplains. Large-scale infrastructures like shore defences, hydropower plants or urban dwellings visibly interact with the geosphere and without profound geoscience knowledge could not have been built. Finally, global production systems or consumption patterns couple human activity with the geosphere at a planetary scale through cycles of matter, energy and information.

Since some decades, humankind's activity intersects the geosphere in a much ampler manner than ever before, either directly or intermediated through the biosphere (Barnosky et al., 2012). During the last century, the number of people on Earth and mostly the patterns of affluent consumption of resources culminated in a global, societal endeavour of anthropogenic change. When considering this outcome from a philosophical point of view, then the resulting global anthropogenic change is intended. It is driven by the ‘Anthropos’ applying hegemonic value system(s); for the good, the bad and the ugly (Dalby, 2015); or the inescapable (Dryzek, 2016).

Hence, anthropogenic change is about how people who, given their value systems, cultural choices and lifestyles, govern the appropriation of biotic and abiotic resources from the natural environments. The technological means, the scientific understanding and the economic resources confine which ‘endeavours of anthropogenic change’ are possible. Within the corpus of scientific understanding, geosciences are instrumental in how effective and efficient the change is. Subsequently, geoscientists are co-architects of the current times of global anthropogenic change. Recognising this ‘engagement’ and assuming the related responsibility is necessary (Jonas, 1984). Subsequently, it is not innocent how geoscientists use their expertise, including what to do with the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ that is made by some of their peers.

When considering global anthropogenic change in its societal context, then geosciences concerns any human being because s/he interacts with the Earth system. This ‘any human being’ needs insights or orientations to understand the functioning of the geosphere. The ‘Anthropocene proposal’ would summarise such insights and, subsequently, orientations about planetary boundaries would inform about the ‘do and do not’ that any responsible person should find helpful to have (Steffen et al., 2015). Hence, the importance that geoscientists, including the geologists, handle the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ in an ethically sound manner.

Ethical context

Science and research are a service to society (Bernal, 1939) and responsible science is a public good (Murphy et al. 2015). Hence, any undertaking of science and research is value laden (Douglas, 2009). Like many other science communities, the geosciences communities recently have strengthened their professional ethical frameworks (Di Capua et al., 2017).

During the last decade, the field of geoethics gained visibility within geosciences as an agent-centric virtue-ethics, as the ‘Cape Town Statement on Geoethics’ outlines: “It is essential to enrich the roles and responsibilities of geoscientists towards communities and the environments in which they dwell, … Human communities will face great environmental challenges in the future. Geoscientists have know-how that is essential to orientate societies towards more sustainable practices in our conscious interactions with the Earth system. Applying a wider knowledge-base than natural sciences, geoscientists need to take multidisciplinary approaches to economic and environmental problems, embracing (geo)ethical and social perspectives. Geoscientists are primarily at the service of society. This is the deeper purpose of their activity.” (Di Capua et al., 2017). To render these ideas operational a ‘Geoethical Promise’ has been formulated (Matteucci et al., 2014).

The ‘Anthropocene Proposal’ seen through the ‘Geoethical Promise’

The ‘geoethical promise’ (Matteucci et al., 2014) offers geologists, and beyond (Bohle and Ellis, 2017), a framework to analyse the ethical implications of options in a professional context. In this sense, the nine statements of ‘Geoethical Promise’ also inform how to appreciate the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ (see table): 



 

Statements made in the
"Geoethical Promise"
...when applied to the "Anthropocene proposal"


       I.           … I will practice geosciences being fully aware of the societal implications, and I will do my best for the protection of the Earth system for the benefit of humankind.
…then these statements can be interpreted as calling to make people aware of the ongoing global anthropogenic global change giving this awareness top priority. Naming the present times ‘Anthropocene’ would rise awareness to favour sustainable development.


     II.            … I understand my responsibilities towards society, future generations and the Earth for sustainable development.


    III.            … I will put the interest of society foremost in my work.

 

    IV.            … I will never misuse my geoscience knowledge, resisting constraint or coercion.
...then these statements call to be non-compromising vis-a-vis third party requests regarding the application of geoscience knowledge and methodology.

 

     V.            … I will always be ready to provide my professional assistance when needed, and I will be impartial in making my expertise available to decision makers.

   VI.            … I will continue lifelong development of my geoscientific knowledge.
n.a.

 

   VII.            … I will always maintain intellectual honesty in my work, being aware of the limits of my competencies and skills.
…then this statement calls for truthfulness in applying geoscience knowledge and methodology


 VIII.            … I will act to foster progress in the geosciences, the sharing of geoscientific knowledge, and the dissemination of the geoethical approach.
n.a.


    IX.            … I will always be fully respectful of Earth processes in my work as a geoscientist.
n.a.


  • The statements I, II and III of the ‘geoethical promise’ emphasize the societal responsibility of the geoscientists. Global anthropogenic change happens and threatens future living conditions of people. Therefore, people including individual and collective human agents with power to decide should be made aware of this threat. Naming the present geological times ‘Anthropocene’ would be an explicit message telling them about the size and nature of the ongoing change that they drive. 
  • Furthering the analysis; the statements VI, VIII and IX of ‘geoethical promise’ do not offer any insight on how to appreciate the ‘Anthropocene proposal’. 
  • In turn, the statements IV, V and VII imply, from various angles, are a reflection about scientific methods that applies to the ‘Anthropocene proposal’. To put it simply, these statements call for methodological rigour that does not compromise to (societal) pressures. Therefore, given these three statements the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ should not be looked upon favourably if it does not fit to the scientific methodology how to design the Geological Time Scale. 
Thus, the ‘geoethical promise’ does not give guidance regarding whether to accept or to reject the ‘Anthropocene proposal’, although it offers an approach how to take a decision. 

The debates within geoscience communities about the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ are about methods how to determine in a rigorous manner the Geological Time Scale. In case that the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ will be rejected an ethical dilemma will arise. In this circumstance two considerations are pitched against each other. On one side, the rigour of the scientific method, which is an important cultural value that needed centuries to establish. On the other side, the requirement to use scientific findings to improve how the human societies functions, which is the final cultural value ‘why to do science’.

This geoethical dilemma needs to be handled. Non-action is not a valid option. Given the societal responsibility that the geoscientists have they must assume to inform the society about the nature of present times. What to do, if the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ is methodically flawed when seen from the perspective of the Geological Time Scale?

A Remedy for the Anthropocene?

What to do? The eleventh thesis about Feuerbach [Marx, 1845]: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world …; the point is to change it,” offers an inspiration.

The Geological Time Scale (International Chronostratigraphic Chart) is an interpretation of the stratigraphic record. It describes the past, the geological history. Properly naming the current times of global anthropogenic change is a matter of the present, of contemporary history. To acknowledge this categorical difference, that is, considering the past and the present in a different manner, the Geological Time Scale would benefit from an end-date.

Amending the Geological Time Scale by an end-date, set by those who have the competence and authority to do it, would circumvent the ethical dilemma pitching values against each other. Instead, such a proposal would give geoscientists the opportunity to size the responsibility that imperatively (Jonas, 1984) follows from their scientific insights into the ongoing global anthropogenic change. Subsequently and elegantly, the ‘Anthropocene proposal’ could be made with all scientific rigour that it needs because of its societal relevance, although without compromising the methodological rigour that underpins the settings in Geological Time Scale.

To be practical, an end-date, for example, could be the peak of the Plutonium fallout (from the nuclear essays in the atmosphere). Some had proposed this features as a marker of the onset of the Anthropocene (Zalasiewicz et al., 2017) now it may serve as marker of the end of the geological past, including the end of the Holocene. The resulting messages, from the geoscience community, would be unequivocal.


[*] This post builds on a working paper that is available at the author’s profile on ResearchGate (doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.10735.28325). The working paper has been prepared in view of a contribution to a special issue of the journal Quaternary (see: Rull, V. (2018). What If the ‘Anthropocene’ Is Not Formalized as a New Geological Series/Epoch? Quaternary, 1(3), 24. doi:10.3390/quat1030024).  
This post, published at the IAPG blog and the author’s blog, is made to invite comments to nourish the author’s reflections for the final draft of the contribution to Quaternary that will be prepared in January 2019.


References

Barnosky, A. D., Hadly, E. A., Bascompte, J., Berlow, E. L., Brown, J. H., Fortelius, M., … Smith, A. B. (2012). Approaching a state shift in Earth’s biosphere. Nature, 486(7401), 52–58. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11018

Bernal, J. D. (1939). The Social Function of Science. London: Georg Routledge & Sons Ltd.

Bohle, M. (2017). Ideal-Type Narratives for Engineering a Human Niche. Geosciences, 7(1), 18. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences7010018

Bohle, M., & Ellis, E. (2017). Furthering Ethical Requirements for Applied Earth Science. Annals of Geophysics, 60(7). https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-7401

Dalby, S. (2015). Framing the Anthropocene: The good, the bad and the ugly. The Anthropocene Review, 3(1), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019615618681

Di Capua, G., Peppoloni, S., and Bobrowsky, P. (2017). The Cape Town Statement on Geoethics. Annals of Geophysics, 60(7). https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-7553

Douglas, H. E. (2009). Science, policy, and the value-free ideal. London: Sage Publications. University of Pittsburgh Press. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.tp.0000267424.88023.7b

Dryzek, J. S. (2016). Earth System Governance: World Politics in the Anthropocene. By Frank Biermann. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2014. 260p. Perspectives on Politics, 14(01), 176–178. https://doi.org/10.1017/S153759271500345X

Hamilton, C. (2017). Defiant Earth - The Fate of Humans in the Anthropocene. Cambridge: Wiley, Polity Press.

Hamilton, C., & Grinevald, J. (2015). Was the Anthropocene anticipated? The Anthropocene Review, 2(1), 59–72. https://doi.org/10.1177/2053019614567155

Jonas, H. (1984). The Imperative of Responsibility. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Matteucci, R., Gosso, G., Peppoloni, S., Piacente, S., Wasowski, J. (2014). The “Geoethical Promise”: A Proposal. Episodes, 37(3), 190–191.

Murphy, C., Gardoni, P., Bashir, H., Harris, C. E., & Masad, E. (2015). Engineering Ethics for a Globalized World. (E. Murphy, C., Gardoni, P., Bashir, H., Harris, C. E., & Masad, Ed.) (Vol. 22). Cham: Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-18260-5

Rull, V. (2018). What If the ‘Anthropocene’ Is Not Formalized as a New Geological Series/Epoch? Quaternary, 1(3), 24. https://doi.org/10.3390/quat1030024

Steffen, W., Richardson, K., Rockström, J., Cornell, S. E., Fetzer, I., Bennett, E. M., … Sorlin, S. (2015). Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science, 347(6223), 1259855–1259855. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1259855

Zalasiewicz, J., Waters, C. N., Summerhayes, C. P., Wolfe, A. P., Barnosky, A. D., Cearreta, A., … Williams, M. (2017). The Working Group on the Anthropocene: Summary of evidence and interim recommendations. Anthropocene, 19, 55–60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ancene.2017.09.001

Zalasiewicz, J., Waters, C., Summerhayes, C., & Williams, M. (2018). The Anthropocene. Geology Today, 34(5), 177–181. https://doi.org/10.1111/gto.12244


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Wednesday, January 9, 2019


Circular economy is about resource efficiency, not "only" recycling

Nikolaos Arvaniditis
(IAPG Task Group on Responsible Mining, Sweden)


Nikolaos Arvaniditis
What is Circular Economy?

Circular economy is aimed at creating and ensuring improved flows of goods and services. Product lifecycle should thereby be part of a closed cycle that keeps intact longer product life through efficient reuse of end of life products and / or waste recycling. Circular economy is shared with socio-economic and environmental aspects, and the term is often used in connection with sustainability as it applies to the entire chain, from production and consumption to waste management and marketing of secondary raw materials. The intention is to reduce resource consumption, reduce waste and, instead, lift reuse and recycling. In other words, changing the way the economy works today. For this to happen, you do not need to focus on the product life cycle length, but instead try to invest in innovative and efficient production and consumption paths.

European Union (EU) strategy and action plan
The EU Commission launched and adopted at the beginning of December 2015 a strategic direction and an action plan to make the EU economy more circular and increase recycling in the Member States. Achieving the new recycling targets would save € 600 trillion in EU enterprising, create 580,000 new jobs while making the EU more competitive and decreasing the demand for resources. This would also entail less environmental impact and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Europeans are asked to recycle 70% of municipal waste and 80% of packaging material by 2030. In addition, landfill of recyclable waste is prohibited from 2025. The transition to circular economy was supposed to be financed with € 650 million from Horizon 2020 (EU funding program for research and innovation), € 5.5 billion from Structural Funds for waste management, and investments in the circular economy at national level.
Research and innovation were considered to be key factors in the success of the circular economy. Therefore, Horizon 2020 program would contribute to the expertise needed to create a resource-efficient, green and competitive economy in the EU. The development towards a circular economy is central to the resource efficiency agenda established within the Europe 2020 strategy for smart and sustainable growth for all.

Circular economy in the mineral raw materials industry

Around 2050, the world economy is expected to quadruple and global population grow from 7.3 billion today to nearly 10 billion. This development will be enormously pressing for raw materials and energy resources, but also the environment. Within the framework of the sustainable growth goal, it could mean necessity for a more efficient use of resources. The way things are developing there is a growing interest and implementation for research and innovation project activities on the issue of resource-efficient and circular economy that concerns the exploitation and use of non-energy mineral resources. According to available information (UNEP, 2011; EU’s 2017 Critical Raw Materials list), less than one-third of about 60 metals have more than 50% recovery over their lifetime, while 34 elements have less than 1%. For example, the recycling rate is very low and is below 1% for most critical mineral raw materials, such as rare earth elements, indium, gallium, germanium and beryllium, which means that their production and supply will still depend on mining of primary mineral resources.

The resource efficiency is then central when it comes to lifting the circular economy model in relation to raw materials value chain linked to mineral, mining and metal industries. Previous studies that have recommended and proposed that the exploitation of mineral resources should be disconnected from needs and demand for increasing growth showed to be not realistic and irrelevant. On the other hand, the application of a more resource-efficient, inclusive and circular economy could then lead to achieving a sustainable use of mineral resources, from both environmental and socio-economic perspectives. However, due mainly to increasing global population, even though we manage to make resource efficiency and circular economy applications an everyday practice the demand for more mineral raw materials will continue to grow.

The application of the circular economy concept, as far as the mineral raw materials value chain concerns, is more about being resource efficient right across it, and at any production level and stage. Having the primary mineral resources’ main commodities and by-products recovered, recycled and/or reused when they’re still in the loop and before becoming and ending up as wastes. Of course, transforming existing mining waste (e.g. historical abandoned, current waste rocks, tailings and metallurgical residues) potential into secondary resources would also be targeted. Achieving this would require policy-related reforms, innovative technological capacity and well-defined business plans.  An important aspect to be also considered is whether resource efficiency and circular economy can contribute to limiting or managing in a better way the growing public opinion on mining.



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Monday, January 7, 2019




CALL FOR ABSTRACTS

Geoethics at the EGU 2019

Vienna, 7-12 April 2019

DEADLINE IS APPROACHING!!!


The abstract submission deadline is 10 January 2019, 13:00 CET.


Session EOS5.2
Geoethics: ethical, social and cultural implications of geoscience knowledge, education, communication, research and practice
Convenership: Silvia Peppoloni, Martin Bohle, Giuseppe Di Capua, Christopher M. Keane, Jonathan Rizzi.
This session is co-sponsored by IAPG and AGI - American Geosciences Institute
Session description: http://www.geoethics.org/egu2019

Session ITS2.1/EOS5.1/ERE4.5/HS1.2.14
Geoethics and geoscientists' responsibility towards society: doing the right thing to develop resources for future generations
Convenership: Giuseppe Di Capua, Nic Bilham, Jan Boon, Victor Correia, Eduardo Marone.
This session is co-sponsored by IAPG and EFG - European Federation of Geologists.
Session description: http://www.geoethics.org/egu2019

Session NH9.13/EOS5.3
Ethical Considerations of Natural Hazards Forecasting
Convenership: Robin Crockett, Gavin Gillmore, Annie Winson.
This session is sponsored by IAPG.
Session description: http://www.geoethics.org/egu2019



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IAPG - International Association for Promoting Geoethics: 
http://www.geoethics.org

Friday, January 4, 2019


Blockchain and Geoethics

David C. Ovadia
(IAPG-UK coordinator)


David C. Ovadia
In this blog I want to explore the possible value of blockchain technology in ensuring better Geoethics. What is the connection, I can hear you thinking. Well – like most people reading this, the whole concept of blockchain is new to me, and I know very little about how it actually works, but I have noticed it being mentioned increasingly in the context of minerals traceability, and hence as a potential tool to avoid some of the worst excesses of unethical mining. So here goes.

Firstly, what is the problem that this might help to solve? Let us admit that some mining activities have a very murky reputation, even today. You might remember the 2006 film ‘Blood Diamonds’ starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly and Djimon Hounsou. The film refers to diamonds mined in war zones and sold to finance conflicts, and thereby profit war lords and other undesirables. Although these problems eventually led to an international agreement, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, which sought to certify the origin of rough diamonds in order to curb the trade in conflict diamonds, its effectiveness is doubted because of the technical difficulties of identifying individual diamonds and the enormous political challenges of dealing with any irregularities.

So do these activities still go on? Probably, and not just with diamonds; gem stones, gold and other commodities are bought and sold across national and regulatory boundaries with some degree of impunity with, often, unpleasant consequences to countless people. Small wonder that mining is perceived by many, including governments and investors, to include some unethical dimensions that no amount of pronouncements about the need for standards and good behaviour will dispel.

So where does blockchain fit in? Describing blockchain, and how it works, is well beyond the scope of this blog, but very briefly blockchain is a process in which as each transaction occurs – and the parties agree to its details – it is encoded into a block of digital data and uniquely signed or identified. Each block is connected to the one before and after it — creating an irreversible, immutable chain. Blocks are chained together, preventing any block from being altered or a block being inserted between two existing blocks. Blockchain creates a shared system of record among business network members, eliminating the need to reconcile disparate ledgers. Each member of the network must have access privileges. Information is shared only on a need-to-know basis. Consensus is required from all members and all validated transactions are permanently recorded. Even a system administrator can’t delete a transaction (If you want to know more, a good starting point is published by IBM at www.ibm.com/blockchain/what-is-blockchain).

So blockchain is a business process – not to be confused with bitcoin, which is a digital currency that happens to use blockchain for its underlying transmission mechanism. As a business process, blockchain lends itself well to the complex paths taken by minerals as they flow from stage to stage, from place to place and from owner to owner in the value chain. As pointed out by IBM -in the diamond industry, for example, each party can access high-resolution photos, immutable payment records and certificates of authenticity. It is virtually impossible to manipulate documents or to insert false bills of lading or payment receipts. It doesn’t stop illegal mining, or money laundering, but it does provide the market and, importantly, ethical investors such as pension funds, with the ability to check that what they are putting their money into has, to a high degree of confidence, not been tampered with for nefarious purposes.

To what extent is blockchain being adopted in the mining sector? I think it is fair to say that we are only at the very beginning of this and, to date, the take up is so far very limited. However, there are encouraging signs of interest, such as by Cobalt Blockchain Inc., a Canadian resource company currently focused on exploring and developing high-grade cobalt assets in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). They are implementing a model that uses an innovative blockchain platform for mineral traceability, ensuring the ethical sourcing of materials. Further details are published at https://investingnews.com/company-profiles/cobalt-blockchain-strategic-cobalt-mining-congo/ which makes for interesting reading and points to various possibilities for improving the ethical basis of mining generally. In addition, a number of listed companies specialising in investing in the natural resources sector are also showing interest in helping to build blockchain, and other e-commerce, based businesses. This cannot be coincidence.

It seems to me that we will see more use of blockchain technology in mining businesses in the coming years. This is to be greatly encouraged given that a key benefit will be to facilitate better Geoethics in the sector, and is something that IAPG should remain interested in, and support.


BIOS

David C. Ovadia is a British geoscientist who was in charge of the International Division of the British Geological Survey from 2000 until 2011, since when he has focussed on a number of directorships at exploration and mining companies as well as maintaining links with academia and several EU Horizon 2020 projects. He is the UK coordinator of IAPG, and can be contacted by email at davidovadia@outlook.com.

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