When a vessel carrying coal from Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal in Queensland sailed, it heralded the dawn of a new era in global bulk commodity logistics and trade.

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CommChain starting a revolution

With the shipment, Australian company CommChain had proven blockchain-enabled, end-to-end trade for bulk commodity logistics and trade settlement was a step closer to commercial reality.

The Japan-bound ship was the fourth and final vessel in a ground-breaking Proof of Concept for CommChain’s innovative platform, which digitises existing paper-based systems for logistics and trade settlement.

It is an industry first for the multi-billion-dollar global bulk commodity logistics and trade sector, which has relied on a manual processing framework.

The CommChain team is led by Gary Zamel, who said that CommChain’s vision was to create a “step-change” in the bulk commodity industry, which despite transporting AU$278 billion worth of exports, still used outdated systems.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.

“The successful trial of the CommChain platform is a step change. It will transform the way bulk commodity trades are processed.

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

“Immutable data is a great warehouse for data that can be analysed by AI to identify enhanced value capture if other choices were made. The CommChain platform offers a solution to the industry’s desire for greater visibility along the supply chain to support purchasing decisions and practices.”

Mr Zamel is joined by co-Founders Faith Dempsey, founder of Queensland-based TransCoal and TransBulk Logistics, and Phil McCarthy, respected veteran of the coal industry.

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 US$15.25 million and included departures from RG Tanna Coal Terminal.

Ms Dempsey said the experiment will improve efficiency and liquidity for companies as the speed and accuracy of information will lead to optimised asset utilisation on the supply chain and 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.

“tThe 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,” she said.

“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.”

*Article published in the October-December 2019 issue of The Asia Miner