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Blockchain Technology Is Expected To Have More Profound Use In The Mining Industry

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In recent years, the word ‘blockchain’ has become synonymous with the latest disruptive technology the world has embraced. Though it has diverse applications, blockchain has gained prominence in the financial sector, which calls for the highest levels of security for data transmission. The staggering rise of crypto-currencies highlights the increasing acceptance of this technology.

So what is blockchain?

The blockchain is simply a growing list of records or blocks which are linked by cryptography. It is an open ledger which collectively records transactions in a peer-to-peer network. Each of the computers connected to this network is called a node. Blockchain adheres to specific protocols for inter-node communications and validating new blocks.

A more simple explanation goes like this: Think of an MS-Word file being edited and then shared with a second person for modification. Till the Word file is with the second person, the first author can neither view the modified version nor edit it. The file has to be obtained from the second person to do so. Now, let’s think of a Word file available over a network accessible at all times by everyone and can be edited by anyone who wishes to and has the authority, something like ‘Google Docs’. It does not call for much rumination on how such a metamorphosis can be favourable for businesses worldwide, involving numerous legal contracts and their execution.

Blockchain technology has several advantageous features like its built-in robustness and incorruptible nature. There is no single point failure because no single authority controls the information stored through blockchain. Data is embedded within the specified network as a whole, and by definition, it is public in a broad sense. It is incorruptible as alterations cannot be made by changing data at any one node; it has to be altered on all nodes present on the network, which would require enormous computing power, though theoretically possible, but not practically. It, thus, eliminates the risks arising from a centralised data repository.

Why blockchain?

Since 2010, there have been as many as 17 instances of cyber-attack on 22 separate entities in the mining sector. These attacks accounted for a range of intentions such as thwarts in mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property stealth, and theft of personal information. According to Symantec’s 2016 report, the mining industry is the number one target from spam emails, and correspondingly one-third of these emails contain malignant content. Blockchain technology can help mitigate these risks by decentralising the data storage and thus making it much difficult to get hold of central storage and alter data. However, the application of this technology extends much beyond than simply storing proprietary data. A primer of the emerging uses is outlined in this article.

Governance

Blockchain can be used for effective governance by making data transparent to all the stakeholders as it can be accessed by anyone connected to the node network and in extended cases, by anyone connected to the internet.

Supply Chain Audit

A blockchain ledger can be maintained wherein the end product would carry a signature of the origin. This is more prominent in the diamond mining industry where there are chances of desegregation of legally mined diamonds and the one procured unethically. A UK based firm, Everledger, has created digital records of over two million diamond stones with dozens of attributes inscribed by laser on the crown or the girdle of the stone. Such initiatives can and are already replacing paper-based tracking. Thus, instead of obtaining certificates on quality and ethics, a potential buyer, in a few years time and with the development of further advances, may hope to gather all the information of a stone just by scanning it with a smartphone.

Internet of Things (Iot)

The emergence and the subsequent usage of Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry (ADEPT) are revolutionising how the whole process of maintenance of assets and consumption of resources is carried out in the mining industry. This sector has a number of consumables such as diesel, tires, electricity etc. Predictive maintenance is quite a challenge too due to a huge intake and maintenance of an inventory of spares. A combination of sensors, software and network, can trigger automated contracts sent out to vendors when these essentials run below a preset value. The payment is similarly automated when the order is received. This can not only reduce time and costs but also provide an excellent base for data analytics.

Immutable Record of Major Data

The integrity and authenticity of important data such as wellbore sample information and lab analysis reports are challenging to maintain as these are handled by a number of internal and external parties. Presently, these are shared through spreadsheets and databases and hence are prone to alteration either due to human-error or malign intentions. Blockchain can safeguard against such possibilities by providing a base for records that is incorruptible. BHP Billiton Ltd., a market leader, is already using this technology for the movement of wellbore rock and fluid samples and to secure real-time data generated during the delivery of mined ore. Previously, tracked by using spreadsheets, the new method is driving internal efficiencies upwards.

The blockchain is bound to have even more profound usages in the coming times. Though disruptive, in a capital-intensive industry like mining, a movement towards it has to be lead by even more elaborate research and implementation at a much smaller scale before being applied to the whole industry.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position,view or opinion of any organization the author is part of.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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