Jun 1, 2020

BHP makes plans for blockchain iron ore sales

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

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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Jun 30, 2021

Rio Tinto and Alcoa begin construction with ELYSIS tech

Rio Tinto
3 min
Rio Tinto and Alcoa’s JV project ELYSIS has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint

Eliminating all direct greenhouse gases from aluminium smelting has taken a major step forward with the start of construction on the first commercial-scale prototype cells of ELYSIS’ inert anode technology, at Rio Tinto’s Alma smelter in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec.

ELYSIS has the potential to reduce the carbon footprint of aluminium production

ELYSIS is a joint venture company led by Rio Tinto and Alcoa that is developing a new breakthrough technology, known as inert anode, that eliminates all direct greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the traditional smelting process and instead produces oxygen.

The technology has the potential to transform the aluminium industry, with a significant reduction in its carbon footprint.

The inert anode prototype cells will operate on a commercial scale typical for large modern aluminium smelters, using an electrical current of 450 kiloamperes (kA).

The Honourable Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry joined representatives from ELYSIS, Rio Tinto and Alcoa to mark the start of construction and announce a further CAD $20mn financial contribution from the Government of Canada to support the project.

The federal government's financial support will enable the creation of a unique commercial size inert anode technology showroom for future customers and will help develop the supply chain by involving local and regional equipment manufacturers and suppliers in the project.

ELYSIS is working to complete the technology demonstration by 2024 followed by the commercialization activities.

ELYSIS technology at a glance:

  • The ELYSIS technology addresses the global trend towards producing low carbon footprint products, from mobile phones to cars, planes and building materials.
  • The new process will reduce operating costs ofaluminiumsmelters while increasing production capacity. It could be used in both new and existing aluminium smelters.
  • In Canada alone, the ELYSIS technology has the potential to reduce GHG emissions by 7 million tons, the equivalent of removing 1.8 million cars from the roads.
  • ELYSIS will also sell next-generation anode and cathode materials, which will last more than 30 times longer than traditional components.

Alcoa and Rio Tinto will continue to support the ELYSIS development program alongside the Governments of Canada and Quebec.

ELYSIS is working closely with Alcoa's Technical Center, where the zero-carbon smelting technology was invented, and the Rio Tinto technology design team in France.

Alcoa's Technical Center supports ELYSIS in the manufacture of proprietary materials for the new anodes and cathodes that are essential to the ELYSIS process. The Rio Tinto technology team in France is creating commercial scale designs for the ELYSIS technology.


Vincent Christ, CEO, ELYSIS commented: “This is a great day for ELYSIS. It means that we are becoming the first technology company in the world to build commercial-size inert anode cells. While we refine the technology in our R&D Centre, we start the construction of our prototype cells. This shows our confidence in our process and in the know-how of our team. The combination of ELYSIS' zero CO2 technology and Quebec's renewable energy will be great competitive advantage for the future. I would like to thank the government for its support and all the partners for their commitment.”

Samir Cairae, Rio Tinto Aluminium managing director Atlantic Operations and ELYSIS board member added: “Today marks a real step towards the future of the aluminium industry, by progressing this breakthrough technology to cut carbon emissions. Rio Tinto is committed to supporting its ongoing development here in Quebec where we already use clean hydropower to deliver some of the world’s lowest carbon aluminium. Combining this technology with renewable hydropower holds the promise of zero carbon aluminium smelting.”

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