Zombie transparency refers to the release of so much data that it’s impossible to make sense of. And it’s a problem in the mining sector.

Companies have access to so much data that they don’t actually know what to do with it or how it interconnects. Zombie transparency allows companies to adhere to accountability laws without actually making any real movements towards it. Therefore it’s essentially ‘opaque’ transparency.

As PDAC 2019 draws to an end, we look at the subject of one of their most unique sessions.

How does zombie transparency factor into mining?

Miners have access to so much data that it can seem overwhelming and hard to make sense. It is, however, a mining company’s responsibility to make data consumable for the public.

Transparency should transfer over to multiple areas, including:

  • Financial (expense and revenue)
  • Environmental/ethical impact
  • Sustainable development
  • International corporate transparency

Unfortunately, this isn’t always reality. Some companies release data that is ‘opaque’ – hard to understand, generally not relevant, and in large quantities. They release so much information that it’s almost impossible for somebody to work out what, exactly, is the important data. Entire transparency by a company requires a conscious and definitive effort. This therefore means dedicating resources to positive growth and displaying this positive growth, which isn’t always the main priority of a company.

Different types of zombie transparency

According to Daniel Kaufmann, member of the board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, there are different types of zombie transparency. One is releasing difficult-to-understand data. The other is releasing important information, but not making it publicly available (and to release it is a crime). Both of these give the illusion of transparency without the actuality of it.

Transparency is necessary, but it’s a specific necessity, and must be implemented with a combination of other things. Partial or zombie transparency is not enough. And as Kaufmann points out, “Transparency…is so important in a major way, but it’s insufficient on its own.”

While mining isn’t the only sector where zombie transparency occurs, it is certainly one of the most important.

Blockchain’s role in defeating zombie transparency

To avoid zombie transparency, miners must adopt widespread honesty throughout their company.

This means:

  • Being clear and concise with data
  • Honesty on a global level without repercussions
  • Not releasing excessive amounts of indecipherable data

This is to avoid bribery, corruption and unethical practices.


Using blockchain could be the key to getting rid of zombie transparency. It’s permanent, decentralised and provides an accessible way of demonstrating data. Blockchain fosters transparency, and an important type of transparency. That’s what makes it ideal.

In addition, if the information is placed on a public blockchain, then it’s accessible, tamper-proof and visible. Blockchain has benefits not just for the public, who want transparency, but also for the company’s own benefit. Because it’s immutable, it provokes trust – and that trust is integral in disclosing company data. It can’t be changed, or deleted, once it’s on the blockchain.

Blockchain could be the underlying technology to the future of mining transparency. We’re pioneering the way with our platform STAMP. Read about it here.