Rethinking the concept of small-scale mining for technologically advanced raw materials production
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CitationSidorenko, Olga. Sairinen, Rauno. Moore, Kathryn. (2020). Rethinking the concept of small-scale mining for technologically advanced raw materials production. Resources policy, 68, 101712. 10.1016/j.resourpol.2020.101712.
The purpose of this paper is conceptual analysis and critique, informing development of a modern technologically-advanced small-scale mining (SSM) concept. The need for SSM has recently been articulated in a European mining policy context. In an attempt to secure access to minerals, European strategy includes the development of new approaches to the extraction of resources from ore deposits, including by SSM operations. However, the application of traditional thinking and definitions of small-scale mining to a European context is problematic, such that the evolution of modern smaller scale mining also requires re-thinking of the underpinning concepts. We discuss various company structures, scales of mining and their specific features. We differentiate SSM from “artisanal small-scale mining” (ASM) and discuss its relationship to “large-scale mining” (LSM). From this analysis, we distill the key features and criteria of SSM and raise important questions concerning social and environmental sustainability in relation to SSM. We suggest that greater definition of what constitutes technological small-scale mining in a European context will substantially improve further research in the development of mining solutions and contribute to the discussion on the future of mining both within and outside of Europe.