Metals and mining-focused blockchain platform MineHub has bought Waybridge Technologies, a commodities ecosystem for industrial consumers of metals, creating an end-to-end digital solution for the entire mine-to-market supply chain.
Launched in 2019 with industry partners including Wheaton Precious Metals, ING Bank, BHP, Vale, Kimura Capital, China Baowu and IBM, the MineHub platform focuses on trade operations and document flows between companies in the raw materials sector. It allows parties involved in selling, buying, delivering and paying for a cargo of minerals to collaborate securely in real time, sharing electronic information rather than couriering or emailing documents that are subject to interception, fraud and cyber threats.
It has carried out several transactions – including what it says was the first-ever blockchain-based iron ore trade in 2020, in which BHP delivered US$14mn of iron ore to China Baowu, a state-owned iron and steel company, with trade confirmation, logistics, assay exchange, notifications and document sharing all carried out on the platform.
In 2021, it completed an oversubscribed US$10mn financing and listing on Canada’s TSX Venture Exchange, before transitioning to revenue generation with its first commercial agreement, bringing in BHP as a paying client. This was followed by further deals with Sumitomo and Capstone Copper.
Waybridge’s solution, meanwhile, is aimed at digitising the selling and sourcing end of the chain. It provides order processing, real-time shipment tracking and inventory management and reporting, and currently counts over 90 companies interacting digitally on its platform, including global manufacturers, miners, warehouses and shipping companies. In 2021, it raised US$30mn in series B funding co-led by Rucker Park Capital and Craft Ventures, with participation from Venrock, taking its total funds raised to US$40mn. Last year, its customers managed more than US$7bn of raw materials via the platform.
“MineHub launched with a strong focus on connecting sales operations within mining companies to their customers for bulk commodities such as iron ore and metal concentrates. Waybridge started from the manufacturing side, connecting procurement operations with their metal suppliers. Both companies are working with industry leaders – Waybridge more focused in North America, and MineHub in Asia,” says Arnoud Star Busmann, CEO at MineHub. “Both platforms have been adopted by industry leaders that have the scale to influence market practices. We have the potential to significantly reduce timelines to reach critical mass and become an industry standard, creating network value for our customers.”
Under the terms of the deal, MineHub is paying US$2.5mn in shares for the company, which will be combined into the MineHub corporate structure. Scott Evans, Waybridge founder and CEO, will be appointed to MineHub’s advisory board and assist the MineHub executive team with commercialisation and strategy.
“MineHub and Waybridge are uniquely aligned in their vision to digitise commodity supply chains and unlock the value that technology can bring to one of the world’s most critical industries,” says Evans. “Together, we will transform the way market participants interact with each other by providing unprecedented visibility and data analytics, robust sustainability reporting and operational efficiency to the foundational layer of the global economy.”
The tie-up comes amid tough times for blockchain-based platforms in trade. Last year saw the demise of we.trade, a bank-backed network for open account trade, and TradeLens, a supply chain ecosystem that facilitated information exchange for more than 65% of containerised trade, as well as the decision by fraud prevention fintech MonetaGo to scrap the technology, asserting it was not competitive at scale. This year is not auguring much better: in February, the Irish High Court appointed provisional liquidators to trade finance blockchain consortium Marco Polo Network after it was unsuccessful in its attempts to raise enough cash to keep going.
However, MineHub asserts that it has developed a platform with the functionality and utility that industry both needs and wants, starting at the mine and moving downstream to processors, fabricators and manufacturers. It adds that the combination of the two companies – which between them count operations and customers in the top three industrial economies of the US, China and Japan and the key mining jurisdictions of Chile, Australia and Canada – will create an “accelerated path to critical mass” for mining and metals supply chain digitisation.