Our analysis also reveals that the incentives for investment in exploration
are not always aligned with societal needs and constraints. The market
determines investment based on short-term returns rather than long-term
The mining, resource extraction, industries have the longest planning horizons of any organisation upon the planet. You start drilling holes in the ground now to check something out and you’re thinking about what’ll be happening 50 years into the future as you do so. Absolutely no one plans like this other than this industry. Governments certainly don’t….
Ah, yes, they are being as stupid as I thought they were going to be:
However, none of the current international
agencies has a mandate to plan, oversee or realize efficient and
effective exploitation of mineral resources. Even though there is considerable
fatigue with too many international treaties, as noted by major
resource powers such as China37, we propose that a linkage between the
International Resource Panel (Box 1) and the Intergovernmental Forum
on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development could use
existing treaty mechanisms for more effective resource planning. The
recently established United Nations Environment Assembly38 could play a
convening role to help ensure that ecological constraints are duly incorporated
into effective planning.
We’re going to put the UN in charge of mineral extraction to make it more efficient. Err, yes, that’ll work, won’t it?
2. Monitor impacts of mineral production and consumption. There is an
urgent need to establish a system for tracking mineral use along the entire
value chain, from source to end of life, perhaps based on the ‘fingerprinting’
developed by the German Geological Survey for tantalum39,40
Idiots, damn fool idiots. Yes, I do know those German guys and bloody good work they’ve done too. But their tracking only lasts until you first refine the metal. It’s absolutely useless, cannot in any manner work at all, after that first refining.
Such a system could also incorporate a global chain-of-custody programme,
similar to that of the food industry. Furthermore, there is a
need to promote domestic production and consumer cognizance of
mineral use, incorporating a notion of ‘metal miles’; that is, reduction
of the environmental cost of transport through increased consumption
of local products.
We’re going to have a global plan for minerals extraction so as to make sure that it’s all efficient. So that people then use only local minerals for local people? These folks are insane.
And they’re fools too:
Extraction processes should
be improved. Typical copper grades are less than 1% of the total mass and
the recovery rate of this small amount should be optimized.
Yep, every miner right around the world is just copacetic about his extraction rates. No one ever works to try to improve the percentage of the valuable stuff he extracts. The entire industry just ignores the most obvious method of profit enhancement. Yup, really, they do. They spend fortunes digging vast holes in the ground, erecting huge factories to process the dirt, and they don’t pay any attention at all to how efficiently they extract the gold from the dirt.
But putting the UN in charge would change all of that, wouldn’t it?
How do these people remember how to breathe?
all valuable metals contained in the ore should be recovered rather than
ending up in the tailings dam (for example, indium or germanium in zinc
ores, or gallium in bauxite).
Absurdly twattish. Gallium from bauxite for example. Yep, it’s there. And the world uses perhaps 400 tonnes a year of Ga, about half from scrap (mostly process scrap) recycling. So, maybe 200 tonnes of virgin material (old numbers but still useful). There’s a few thousand tonnes of Ga in the bauxite processed each year. If we start to dump thousands of tonnes into a market that demands hundreds of tonnes what does that do to the price? Yep, it falls. Almost certainly to below the price of extracting the Ga from bauxite.
The reason we don’t do this therefore is that it’s not a valuable material, all that Ga in bauxite.
We recognize that in many cases commodity pricing signals run
contrary to ecological goals. Regulatory mechanisms would be needed
for companies to focus on longer-term resource conservation planning.
Facepalm. Let’s abolish the price system. That always works well.
coordination is needed to ensure that minerals are produced in the most
ecologically and economically efficient way
By abolishing the price system?
Ultimately, international legal mechanisms
may be needed to anticipate and respond to future mineral availability