Fun one for Friday. Focusing on the question: would you buy your mineral concentrates on eBay?
That’s what one group of industry insiders is aiming for this week. Announcing plans for an online platform to connect buyers and sellers in the mining business, with the hopes of disrupting global sales.
The venture is called Open Mineral. Founded by a group of former metals traders at world-leading intermediary Glencore — who think it’s time to modernize how concentrates are marketed worldwide.
Open Mineral said this week that it is preparing to launch an “eBay style” online marketplace for concentrates. Where miners of zinc, lead, copper, gold and silver can post their product — to be browsed for direct purchase by buyers in the smelting industry around the world.
That would be a big change from how concentrates are sold today. With the bulk of purchases from mines currently made by trading houses like Glencore — which then look to re-market concentrates to final end users.
Such intermediary buyers have a big role in the market because they know what users in the smelter space are looking for. With each end user generally having very specific requirements for the chemistry of the concentrates they can accept.
Right now, traders use their industry contacts to search out concentrates they know fit their clients’ needs. But an online platform like Open Mineral could render that function obsolete — by allowing smelters to directly see what concentrates are available globally.
Such technology is being driven by another big change in global commodities: the rise of blockchain, the electronic tracking mechanism that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Blockchain tech allows for tracking and certification of concentrate batches as they’re sold and moved around the world. Making it easier for buyers and sellers to connect and trust each other.
That could allow online platforms for direct sales to succeed to a greater degree than ever before. Watch for the official launch of Open Mineral in August — and to see what the response will be from the industry in terms of sales volumes.