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Mineral grades: an important indicator for environmental impact of mineral exploitation

Author

Listed:
  • Michael Priester

    (Projekt-Consult GmbH)

  • Magnus Ericsson

    (Luleå University of Technology, ETS/Economics)

  • Peter Dolega

    (Öko-Institut e.V.)

  • Olof Löf

    (RMG Consulting)

Abstract

We have collected and analysed grade information for nine metals: copper, gold, iron, lead, manganese, nickel, PGM, tin, and zinc. Based on this analysis, we have developed a proposal of “grade classes”, i.e., what could be considered low-grade, average-grade, and high-grade deposits for all these metals. We discuss the implications of possible developments into the future of the grades of ores, from which these metals are extracted. A focus on high-grade deposits will naturally reduce the environmental impact of mining. For six metals (copper, gold, iron, nickel, PGM, and zinc), we have further analysed the volumes available for the 10% cohort of projects and operating mines with the highest grades. Three metals (iron, PGM, and zinc) show considerable volumes, between 15 and 20% of total metal content in resources in this high-grade percentile. Copper and gold have between 5 and 10% while nickel has only 1.7% in the highest 10% grade percentile.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael Priester & Magnus Ericsson & Peter Dolega & Olof Löf, 2019. "Mineral grades: an important indicator for environmental impact of mineral exploitation," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 32(1), pages 49-73, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:32:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s13563-018-00168-x
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-018-00168-x
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mudd, Gavin M., 2007. "Global trends in gold mining: Towards quantifying environmental and resource sustainability," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 42-56.
    2. Friedrich -W. Wellmer & Roland W. Scholz, 2017. "Peak minerals: What can we learn from the history of mineral economics and the cases of gold and phosphorus?," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 30(2), pages 73-93, July.
    3. Mudd, Gavin M., 2010. "The Environmental sustainability of mining in Australia: key mega-trends and looming constraints," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 98-115, June.
    4. Crowson, Phillip, 2012. "Some observations on copper yields and ore grades," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 59-72.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yıldız, Taşkın Deniz, 2020. "Waste management costs (WMC) of mining companies in Turkey: Can waste recovery help meeting these costs?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 68(C).

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