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Mining productivity and the fourth industrial revolution

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  • David Humphreys

    (Dundee University)

Abstract

Rising productivity, alongside exploration, is the principal means by which mining can combat resource depletion. Over the past one hundred and fifty years, the mining industry has been remarkably successful in growing its productivity. However, since 2000, there are signs of a slowdown. Some aspects of this are clearly cyclical but there are increasing concerns that some of the underlying, longer term, factors which have kept productivity growing in the past are losing their force. Key amongst these factors are the physical contributions that the second industrial revolution, beginning in the late nineteenth century, brought to mining, most notably in the form of larger equipment operating in larger mines. There is much discussion in the industry around the arrival of a fourth industrial revolution and how this might ‘disrupt’ the sector and deliver a new boost to productivity through the promotion of intelligent mining but thus far there is little the evidence of such a boost. In its absence, the mining industry faces the prospect of rising costs as grades fall and waste volumes grow.

Suggested Citation

  • David Humphreys, 2020. "Mining productivity and the fourth industrial revolution," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 33(1), pages 115-125, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:33:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1007_s13563-019-00172-9
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-019-00172-9
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. de Solminihac, Hernán & Gonzales, Luis E. & Cerda, Rodrigo, 2018. "Copper mining productivity: Lessons from Chile," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 182-193.
    2. Vernon Topp & Leo Soames & Dean Parham & Harry Bloch, 2008. "Productivity in the Mining Industry: Measurement and Interpretation," Staff Working Papers 0807, Productivity Commission, Government of Australia.
    3. Humphreys, D., 2001. "Sustainable development: can the mining industry afford it?," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 1-7, March.
    4. Crowson, Phillip, 2003. "Mine size and the structure of costs," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 15-36.
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    Cited by:

    1. Olga Janikowska & Joanna Kulczycka, 2021. "Impact of minerals policy on sustainable development of mining sector – a comparative assessment of selected EU countries," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 34(2), pages 305-314, July.
    2. H. C. S. Subasinghe & Amila Sandaruwan Ratnayake & K. A. G. Sameera, 2021. "State-of-the-art and perspectives in the heavy mineral industry of Sri Lanka," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 34(3), pages 427-439, October.
    3. Zauresh Atakhanova, 2021. "Support services in the extractive industries and the role of innovation," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 34(1), pages 141-150, April.

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