The role of the global mining industry now and in the future

Bohdan Andrushchak, Lee Harwood, Suman Khadka and Sara Maukonen *)

*) The report was generated for Kompassi in a Project course of South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, Environmental Engineering Diploma Program. The valuable input of students and teachers is hereby acknowledged.


This report contains information about global mining industry, its history, and its current and future challenges. The focus is especially on the drivers of the mining industry and what effects mining has on the environment.


The mining activities vaguely started during the homo sapiens era. The first mining efforts involved digging for the best cutting stones and stone tools. As homo sapiens developed they started trading the mined materials i.e., Tribes that had access to obsidian or chert materials traded with other tribes that had access to clay for making bowls, pots, or other tools. Mineral’s trading could be considered as the base of civilization as they required effective communication skills. The first known mine for specific mineral was coal from southern Africa, appearing worked 40,000 to 20,000 years ago (Earth System, 2021).

Mining began to evolve as a significant industry when the civilizations developed 10,000 to 7000 years ago. Copper were the most abundantly mined minerals at earlier times because they were found in a metallic state in nature. The application of applying fire to mined material became an innovative method to extract minerals. Metals could be melted and shaped into different forms. This resulted to the development of the process called ‘’smelting’’. The Egyptians and Sumerians smelted gold and silver from ore 6000 years ago. They traded them between people of different cultures that contributed to the rise in value of these minerals. Approximately 5500 years ago, tin was discovered in the history of mining. The experiment of mixing one mineral with another led to the discovery of new mineral i.e., tin mixed with copped made bronze (alloy metal). As Mediterranean civilizations developed, mining industries evolved as one of the most growing sectors in the world. People used shaft and galleries system supported by stone columns as timber became scarce. Athens grew wealthy by extracting silver mines. Soon after Sparta took control over Athens silver mines (Laurion mines). The Romans expanded in the pursuit of mines. The development of civilizations needed several aspects to finance its operation such as money, military equipment and infrastructure which pushed the function of the government. During the rise of Europe, the miners were permitted extensive rights to acquire land and mine. The governments were paid a portion of revenue from mining. The intensive mining activities led to the progress in civilization with an increase in amount of mined material to meet the daily life necessities and uplift the economy (Earth System, 2021).

Mining industry has always been a growing business since prehistoric era. Coal and other metals extraction and manufacturing still remains the most significant industries in the world till date. US mine production has been increasing rapidly. According to U.S. Geological survey, US mines produced approximately $86.3 billion in minerals in 2019 – more than $2 billion higher than revised 2018 production totals (USGS, 2020). Our future depends on mined resources. The growth of electronic equipment’s needs copper, the construction of clean energy technologies (PV solar panels, turbines) requires aluminium and other alloys to manufacture. Today, mining industries are applying innovative\improved technologies. Rio Tinto’s iron ore mines in Western Australia launched Rio Tinto’s Mine of the future program in 2008 with an aim to find innovative ways of extracting minerals while reducing workers health risk and environmental impacts. The program achieved number of advancements and further helped the company to become the world’s largest owner and operator of autonomous haulage system (Rio Tinto,2020). Likewise, In Mongolia, mining sector has driven the country to be one of the world’s fastest growing economies. The 2018 EITI report states that the share of mining sector in total industrial production of Mongolia was 57,63% on average for the last 3 years (EITI,2021). The World Bank has also been supporting 41 mining sector reform (technical assistance) projects in 24 countries since 1988. The reform aimed to increase the investment in mining sector and associated economic indicators i.e., exports, GDP and fiscal revenues in the recipient countries (The World Bank, 2021).


Based on an article by Helmers and Marx (2012, 2) 26% of global primary energy is used for transportation and 23% of greenhouse gas emissions is energy related. Concluding from this, reducing the use of fossil fuels in transportation would have a big impact in reducing global greenhouse gasses. The problems arise when we start to think of how to substitute the non-renewable energy sources. Renewable energy production is often considered environmentally friendly, despite many concerning aspects in energy production methods.

Since people have started to pay more attention to being environmentally friendly, the demand for electric cars has raised in the past few years. Electric cars admittedly have good attributes like reducing impurities in city air and the opportunity to use renewable energy option to charge the car. ( Yet there are some aspects to consider regarding the sustainability of electric cars.

Based on a review by Romare and Dahllöf (2017, 42) greenhouse gas emissions of 150-200 kg CO2-eq/kWh battery looks to correspond to the greenhouse gas burden of current battery production as of 2017. Energy use for battery manufacturing with then current technology is about 350 – 650 MJ/kWh battery. The results from different assessments vary due to a number of factors including battery design, inventory data, modelling and manufacturing. (Romare and Dahllöf 2017, 42)

Electric and hybrid car batteries are usually Lithium-ion based batteries (LiBs) or nickel metal hybride batteries (NiMH), which contain parts that are difficult to recycle. All battery compounds do not degrade well, causing a problem in their recycling. If they are discarded to municipal waste, they pose a risk to soil, underground water, and air. The batteries also consist of extinguishing metals of which some are Rare Earth Elements (REEs). LiBs and NiMH batteries are also used in many portable electronics. (Al-Thybat et al. 2013, 4)

Minerals that are often used for producing LiBs batteries are copper, graphite, lithium, aluminium, chromium, iron, manganese. NiMH batteries contain a bit different metals including nickel, iron, copper, lanthanum, praseodymium, neodymium, samarium, and cerium. Some of these are Rare Earth Elements (REEs) (Al-Thybat et al. 2013, 4)
REEs consist of 15 lanthanides, scandium, and yttrium. The REE resources are sufficient and meet the consumption needs for a long time. The current challenge is to locate these elements and to mine them fast without causing harm to the environment. Rare Earth Elements have become vital for clean energy products such as solar cells and wind turbines. (Yang et al. 2012, 131-133)


The top 10 biggest mineral extractors in the world combined turned over a staggering 544bn € (US$643.55bn) during the year 2019 (Mining Technology 2020). Whilst we can assume economic viability, this part of the project will ‘dig a little deeper’ into who they are and what they do ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ with regards to the other two pillars of sustainability (The University of Nottingham 2021) (Figure 1).

Figure 1 The three pillars of sustainability (University of Nottingham 2021)

As Figure 1 indicates, to achieve true sustainability any organization must strive to be not only economically viable, but also to adhere to sound social and environmental policies. This part of the project report cannot estimate sustainability on every mine (some companies own 10s or even hundreds of mines) but will concentrate on the top 3 earning companies as singular entities.

4.1 Glencore (181.83bn €)
Founded in 1974 (as Marc Rich + Co), Glencore originally was solely a commodities trading company which ignored international trade embargoes and traded with anyone. Their clients included apartheid era South Africa, Castro’s Cuba, and Gaddafi’s Libya. (Rankin 2013.) Clearly no social conscience exhibited there. Nowadays Glencore appears to be attempting to make environmental and social amends with the 2019 “intention to cap our annual coal output at 150 million tonnes” for example. However, Glencore’s registered office is on the Channel Island of Jersey (Glencore 2021) and the reason for that is simple. Jersey’s standard corporate tax rate is 0% (Kreston 2016).

4.2 China MinMetals Corporation (72.58bn €)
This corporation, founded in 1950, ranked at 92 in the Fortune Global 500 companies in 2020. What is interesting is that, on the company website, it is proudly proclaimed to be 92nd in 2020 but, sustainability reports (under the banner of social contribution) only exist for the years 2014 to 2017. (Minmetals 2021)

4.3 ArcelorMittal (59.7bn €)
ArcelorMittal is a Luxembourg-based steel manufacturer with production facilities located in 18 countries. They supply products to some 160 countries around the world. Along with actively being aligned with 4 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (2015), they have their own “10 sustainable development outcomes” which was also launched in 2015. (ArcelorMittal 2021)


Mining industry plays an important role in the economic and social development in each country. However, despite its importance there are many concerns regarding the influence of this industry on humans and environment. According to the European Commission, waste coming from the mining industry, including extraction and processing of raw materials, accounts a large share of the total waste generated in the EU. Some of the wastes does not bring any harm to the environment. On the other hand there are some pollutants that may cause significant damage to the ecosystem and its inhabitants. Those impacts could have serious environmental, social and economic effects which are difficult and costly to manage. Therefore, waste from the mining industry has to be addressed well in order to have a stable and reliable waste regulation system among EU member states. Thus, EU developed and established several documents that set guidelines on how to deal with waste coming from the extractive processes. (European Commission)

5.1 Mining Waste Directive 2006/21/EC

Mining waste directive (MWD) was established in 2006. This document was made in order to have some standard regarding the management of extractive waste among the EU member states. According to the MWD, extractive waste can be defined as something that is an outcome from the extraction, treatment, processing or storage of mineral resources and is aimed to discard. (European Parliament, 2017)

There are three main categories of extractive waste:

  1. Extractive waste resulting from the excavation of mineral resources which can be waste-rock, overburden, or interburden. For example this category can include rock and soil which have to be removed to access the ore. On the other hand, unpolluted topsoil can be used for site rehabilitation and is thus not considered as waste material. Nevertheless, if discarded, topsoil may be classified as extractive waste;
  2. Mining waste resulting from the processing of mineral resources which can include tailings, wastes from washing and cleaning of minerals, wastes from stone cutting and sawing, waste sand, waste gravel or crushed rocks;
  3. Extractive waste resulting from the exploration and production of oil and gas: e.g. fresh water, oil-containing, baryte-containing, or chloride-containing drilling muds and/or other materials classified as extractive waste according to the provisions of Directive 2006/21/EC. This may also include fluids such as flowback and produced water when classified as extractive waste. (Garbarino et al., 2018)

The main objective of the directive is to prevent and reduce any negative effects on the environment or humans resulting from the management of the waste coming from mining industry. The MWD requires EU member states to do the following:

  • Take all the possible actions in order to guarantee that extractive waste is managed appropriately and does not cause any danger to the environment (water, air, soil, flora and fauna) or human health.
  • Make sure that the abandonment, dumping or uncontrolled depositing of extractive waste are not allowed
  • Ensure that people who work at the extractive waste facilities are acknowledged about the proper management of mining waste and take all necessary measures to meet the main objective of the directive. In addition, any waste facility, also after its closure, must be managed in accordance to the set regulations and major accidents involving that facility and its impact on the environment and human health must be taken into consideration. (European Parliament, 2017)

In order to have least possible effects on environment and humans operators of the mining facilities should use the Best Available Techniques (BAT) which are mentioned in the corresponding document. Lastly, the MWD does not prescribe the use of any technique or specific technology. Every Member state will choose the method itself depending on the technical characteristics of the waste facility, its geographical location and the local environmental conditions. (European Parliament, 2017)

One of the instruments regarding the management of waste facilities is the Waste management plan. The main objectives of this plan are:

  • Prevent and reduce the generation of the waste from mining industry and its impacts;
  • Encourage the recovery of extractive waste by recycling, reusing and reclaiming of such waste where this is environmentally appropriately in accordance with existing EU environmental standards and the MWD itself;
  • Guarantee short and long-term safe disposal of extractive waste. (European Parliament, 2017)

Moreover, the directive also specifies the content of the Waste management plan. For example, the plan must specify the classification of the facility and the waste characterization. The plan must contain approximate total quantities of extractive waste that are expected to be produced during the operation phase of the facility. Lastly, this paper must describe the processes during which such waste is generated and give information on any subsequent treatment to which it will be subject. (European Parliament, 2017)

5.2 Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document for the Management of Waste from Extractive Industries

The Best Available Techniques (BAT) on the management of tailings and waste-rock in mining activities, abbreviated as MTWR BREF, was drafted in the period 2001-2004 and published by the European Commission in January 2009. (Garbarino et al., 2018)

This document aims to provide extractive industries, competent authorities and other relevant stakeholders with up-to-date information and data on the management of extractive waste. In addition, this paper tries to support different decision makers by providing a list of identified BAT to prevent or reduce as far as possible any adverse effects on the environment and human health brought as result of the management of extractive waste. Moreover, the document provides and describes techniques which are divided into two groups:

  1. Generic BAT which are generally applicable, unless otherwise stated;
  2. Risk-specific BAT, which are applicable to sites where specific risks of adverse effects on the environment or human health are identified through a proper Environmental Risk and Impact Evaluation. (Garbarino et al., 2018)

For example, the main target groups of the Generic BAT are

  • corporate management;
  • information and data management;
  • waste hierarchy

On the other hand, Risk-specific BAT encompass such techniques as:

  • BAT identified to prevent or reduce as far as possible specific risks. For example, BAT for sites where a risk of a major accident or risk of pollutant release is identified;
  • BAT on the prevention or minimization of ground and surface water status deterioration and air & soil pollution;
  • BAT which are relevant for sites where other environmental or human health risks are identified. These can include prevention of noise emissions from the management of extractive waste; minimization of odor nuisance from the management of extractive waste; prevention of visual and footprint impacts from the management of extractive waste; management of extractive waste containing Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORMs). (Garbarino et al., 2018)

5.3 EU Raw Material Initiative

In order to improve the availability of the raw material the European Commission has established the Raw Material initiative in 2008. According to this initiative, the market of raw materials must be open and transparent. The document emphasizes the importance of improvement of production and consumption methods in the mining industry. The initiative also promotes sustainable recycling and re-usage of raw materials. In addition, enhancing infrastructure and bringing new technologies into the industry must be considered as a target. Other proposals mentioned in the initiative are:

  • Determine critical raw materials
  • Establish a sustainable access to raw materials
  • Improve the efficiency of resources and find possible substitutions to some raw materials
  • Increase the usage of secondary raw materials
  • Promote knowledge, skills and technologies in mining industry
  • Fair and sustainable supply of raw materials

Moreover, according to the Europe 2020 plan, EU must develop economy that is based on sustainable development and efficient resource usage. The European Commission also established goals that are focusing on sustainable growth, establishment of new jobs places, reducing emissions and investing in research and development. Figure below depicts the most critical raw materials in the EU. With bold text are mentioned raw materials that are deposited in Finland. (GTK)

Figure 2. Critical raw materials in the EU (Source: GTK)


Mining industry is a big source of pollution especially for freshwater ecosystems. Waste that comes from extractive industries is approximately 29% of total waste in the EU. Figure below depicts how waste from mining industry can spread into the environment. In order to prevent wastage from mining, the facility that contains the waste from extractive industries must be managed appropriately. (Gelabert et al. 2003)

Figure 3. Ways in which waste can spread from the mining facilities (Gelabert et al., 2003)

According to Eurostat 2015, between 2004 and 2014 the total EU-28 waste produced by the extractive industries was approximately from 550 Mt to 750 Mt annually. More than 99% of the waste produced by the mineral extractive industries include the mineral and solidified wastes, excluding mineral waste from construction and demolition, also the sludge and liquid wastes. On the other hand, less than 1 %, includes all the other waste streams. (Garbarino et al, 2018)

The recycling of mining waste is problematic due to lack of legislation and bad economic value. In South Africa, mining and metallurgical wastes constitute one of the biggest challenges to the environment. If not managed properly, the anthropogenic effects of these mining and metal extraction activities can result in irreversible damage to the environment and a hazard to humans. In South Africa, mining waste is usually dumbed to landfills. (Matinde et al. 2018, 825) This poses a great risk to the environment, because the waste may cause acid mine drainage where acidic, sulphate-, and metal- containing wastewater leaks into the environment. The waste cannot be burned because it releases toxins to the atmosphere. (Matinde et al. 2018, 829)

Figure 4. Impacts of mining industry on biodiversity (Garbarino et al., 2018)

Mining does not only cause recycling problems. Mining caused extensive deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon forest between 2005 and 2015. Deforestation within mining leases was triple the average Amazon clearing rate, caused by the direct consequences of mining. However, mining indirectly caused more extensive deforestation off-lease. (Sonter et al. 2017, 4) Mining is not only the problem itself, but it also causes lack of biodiversity when the land is modified to suit the mining process. It is also possible that chemical fallouts, transportation emissions, and any waste products born as a side effect of mining can end up in the Amazon river and cause further harm to the ecosystem. Possible emissions can also travel far by these water routes and destabilize more of the ecosystem.

Garbarino et al. (2018) state that collapsing of extracting waste facility can cause short and long- term effects. The short-term effects include flooding, release of dangerous substances, poisoning, damage of infrastructure and others. On the other hand, long-lasting effects include contamination of soil, water and air. Also, negative impact on plants, animals, and humans.

Extractive waste facilities can generate into air Total Suspended Solids like silt and clay particles. Also, Total Suspended Particles such as PM10 and PM2.5. In addition, dangerous substances used during the processing of minerals can cause different pollution. This may include nitrates, cyanides, xanthates and caustic soda contamination. Greenhouse gas emissions, volatile compounds and other toxic by-products that occur from different processes in the mining industry can also cause air pollution. The usage of water for managing of extractive waste can have local environmental impacts on water availability, quality and quantity. In some cases noise and odour pollution can disturb local inhabitants. Land use impacts may be a serious issue when large areas are used for mining processes. Heavy machinery can change the soil structure and result in loss of plants and trees. Some extractive sectors can cause radioactive pollution. For example, this may include extraction of uranium and phosphate. Operations of extractive facilities can effect local flora and fauna. For example, construction, management and maintenance of the mining facilities can destroy or damage natural habitat of local species. Deposition of extractive waste into the water source can destroy the local benthic fauna. Release of extractive waste on land can disturb the local flora and fauna. Figure below depicts all the possible effects on biodiversity by the mining industry. (Garbarino et al., 2018)


The linear model of resources consumption, in which waste goes to landfills and is not recycled, results in high levels of waste from the mining, metallurgical, and industrial processing of virgin raw materials. Many regulations and policies have been enacted in EU, USA, and South African jurisdictions so as to control the disposal and/or recycling of mining and metallurgical wastes. Yet a degree of legislative scope and effectiveness is needed. (Matinde et al. 2018, 826, 840)

Post-consumer products better provide incentives to recycle and re-use waste instead of using the traditional linear use model. Spent auto catalysts and e-waste contain significant amounts of high-value metals such as Pt, Rh, Pd, Cu, Ni, and Au, among others. To date, extensive research based on pyro-metallurgical and hydrometallurgical processing, or combinations of both, has been conducted in order to recover precious and other valuable metal elements from these types of wastes. (Matinde et al. 2018, 839)

Li-ion batteries used in electric cars and many portable electronics are problematic to recycle. The high voltage and reactive components of LIBs pose safety hazards during crushing stages in recycling processes, and during storage and transportation. (Ojanen et al. 2018, 1) Currently the lithium-ion batteries from vehicles do not get recycled or reused well. The recycling that exists is focused on incineration with pyrometallurgy. With pyrometallurgy only cobalt, nickel and copper can be extracted from the battery (Romare and Dahllöf 2017, 4)

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are widely used in electric cars and other electronics because they have high power and energy density, and low self-discharge rate. Regardless of this, the overall battery life is not very good. At the moment, the Li-ion battery aging mechanism, and its modelling cause problems for researchers since these batteries are very complicated in their construction. Optimization of the battery aging mechanism and the impact of battery degradation could help in developing longer lasting batteries. (Han et al. 2019, 1, 18)

Short battery life makes a product last for shorter amount of time, therefore increasing the demand for minerals and metals used to creating more Li-ion batteries. The value of metals like aluminium and lithium in used Li-ion batteries is economically worthless. This makes succeeding in an environmentally friendly life cycle assessment for Li-ion batteries difficult. The current legislation does not require full recycling of Li-ion batteries. There is also no current demand for recycled metals. (Romare and Dahllöf 2017, 30)

Despite of this, Bobba et al. (2018, 222) suggest that Li-ion batteries could be used for secondary applications after they reach the end of their life. After using Li-ion batteries in electric vehicles, they still work with 60-80% capacity of their initial efficiency and could therefore be used for secondary purposes outside automotive industry. Repurposing Li-ion batteries would reduce environmental waste load and also have positive economic and social impacts.

Finding a way to produce Li-ion batteries that last longer could reduce much of hazardous waste that is difficult to recycle. Long lasting batteries would also reduce the amount of raw mining material needed for battery making. Having a long-lasting battery would also be better for consumers when they could use the same battery for a longer time and not have to worry about getting a replacement battery soon. The biggest issue in increasing battery life may not be scientific limits, but corporations that get money out of selling batteries, electric and hybrid cars, and portable electronics.


Although mining industry plays an important role in a country’s development, it comes with its fair share of challenges and threats. Rising energy costs, social and geopolitical risks, shortage of resource and infrastructure, complex ore mines structure, social conflicts, human rights violation and environmental devastation are some of the challenges and allegations that mining industries are facing recently. These challenges impose an exceptional pressure to mining industries to control cost, improve efficiency and safety in the mining field. According to EU funded report by academics at 23 universities and environmental justice groups (Africa, India and Latin America), there are several disputes ranging from longstanding legal to armed conflicts -142 disputes involving Gold mines, 130 at coal mines, 96 at copper mines and 73 at silver mines with India, Colombia, Nigeria, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and the Philippines having the most (The Guardian, 2021).The other challenge for mining industry comes from resources. As resources become scarce, the mining companies will have to seek for new alternatives depending on what is mined. The most recent focus for minerals resource depletion is for Oil (petroleum) resources. In 1956, oil geologist M. M. King Hubbert predicted that fossil oil production from the lower 48 (mainland) states of the United States would peak by 1970 and then enter a terminal decline (Hubbert, 1956). The prediction was subsequently proven to be accurate (although the peak year was 1971). Not only mining industries challenge remains on resource depletion, but the people are also aware of potential damage caused from resource extraction. Mining companies are obliged to pay more attention to obtaining social license to operate mining activities strategically i.e., appointing director of sustainability. The mining location is based on minerals found in bedrocks. Thus, mining industries faces problem from local communities protesting to defend their land. In Peru, locals have been disappointed with mining industries although the country has seen an impressive annual economic growth rate of more than 6 percent since 2006 (Oxfam America,2009).

Today’s global mining industry possess various risks such as traditional risks (commodity price, access to reserve) and some advanced threats associating to cyber security, access to water and energy, health and safety issues, climate change and various other factors has demanded a transition in mining sector. The transition is mainly focused on three aspects – Electrification, Digitalization, and automation. Electrification trend will focus on helping to improve safety, lower costs and reduce emissions from fossil fuels (NS Energy, 2020). Digitalization aims to increase productivity while exploiting resources in a sustainable way and reducing input costs. It is estimated that mine digitalization could save $370 billion by 2025 raising productivity, reducing waste, and keeping our mines safe (McKinsey & Company, 2020). Similarly, the automation trend focuses on productivity and workers safety. According to a recent industry report, electrification and automation will be a $15 billion market by 2028 (Komatsu, 2019). Mining companies like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton are already seeing increase in efficiency and productivity from autonomous haulage system. They are currently using driverless haulers and automated drill extractors to move metals (Komatsu, 2019). The shift to new era will transform the mining industry into climate-smart mining.

Figure 5. Not just humans and waterways are affected by mining disasters (Pimentel 2019)


  • We don’t need mining False – Almost all products and infrastructure needs raw materials from mining (or re-used/recycled material – originally from mining) (Prince 2016).
  • Responsible Mining does not pollute – False – In 2015-16 “Peak Downs mine was the biggest generator of airborne pollution, with 30,576 tonnes of PM 10” (Atfield 2017) Peak Downs is 50% owned by the highly respected BHP mining co. (5th largest globally)
  • Mining doesn’t help alleviate poverty – False – Sustainable, responsible mines generate much employment, both locally and on a wider scale (Prince 2016).
  • Mining is very safe these days – False – Mining disasters have a high potential for environmental and human destruction. Failed sludge dams in Brazil have killed dozens of people and contaminated about 1000km of waterways in 2 recent incidents, 2015 and 2019. (Daley 2019.)
  • Agriculture and mining don’t go together – False – Mining and agriculture must work together because, logically speaking, “If it can’t be grown, it must be mined” (Prince 2016).
  • All mines leave the environment devastated – False – Many disused mines are rehabilitated into useable, safe, and healthy environments (Prince 2016).
  • There’s only irresponsible mining – False – There are many responsible mining companies which not only turn a profit, they also benefit the community and minimize environmental impacts in the search for real sustainability (Prince 2016).
  • Mining is the only way to supply raw materials – False – Governments, Academia, NGOs, Business, Scientists, etc are continually researching for new and innovative materials to replace mined resources. Recycling and re-using are beginning to play a major part in the supply. (Duso 2020).
Figure 6. Tourist attraction on a disused gold mine – Johannesburg – South Africa (Gold Reef City 2021)


ABB Company. 2020. The future of mining. Company website. Available at: [Accessed 14th March 2021].

Al-Thyabat, S., Nakamura, T., Shibata, E., Iizuka, A. 2012. Adaptation of minerals processing operations for lithium-ion (LiBs) and metal hybride (NiMH) batteries recycling: Critical review. Journal. Minerals Engineering 45 (2013) 4-17.

Bobba, S., Mathieux, F., Ardente, F., Blengini, G., Cusenza, M., Podias, A., Pfrang, A. 2018. Life Cycle Assessment of repurposed electric vehicle batteries: an adapted method based on modelling energy flows. Journal of Energy Storage 19 (2018).

Earth systems. 2021. A brief history of mining. Company website. Available at:,10%2C000%20to%207%2C000%20years%20ago [Accessed 16th March 2021]. No date. Electric vehicle benefits. WWW-document. Available at: [Accessed 15 March].

European Commission. No date. Extractive Waste. WWW document. Available at: [Accessed 25 February 2021].

European Parliament. Karamfilova, E. 2017. WWW document. Mining Waste Directive 2006/21/EC. European Implementation Assessment. Study. Available at [Accessed 26 February 2021].

Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) (2021). Mongolia. Retrieved from,for%20the%20last%203%20years [Accessed 18th March 2021].

Garbarino, E., Orveillon, G., Saveyn, H., Barthe, P., Eder, P. 2018. Best Available Techniques (BAT) Reference Document for the Management of Waste from Extractive Industries. WWW document. Available at: [Accessed 25 February 2021].

Gelabert, E., Tavares, F. November 2003. Directive on the management of waste from extractive industries. PDF document. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

GTK. 2010. Finland’s Minerals Strategy. Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2021].

Han, X., Lu, L., Zheng, Y., Feng, X., Li, Zhe., Li, J., Ouyang, M. 2019. A review on the key issues of the lithium ion battery degradation among the whole life cycle. eTransportation 1 (2019).

Helmers, E., Marx, P. 2012. Electric cars: technical characteristics and environmental impacts. PDF document. Environmental Sciences Europe 2021, 24:14. Available at: [Accessed 9 March 2021].

Hubbert, M. K. (1956) Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuel. Drilling and Production Practice. ICMM (2008) Sustainable Development Framework – A sustained commitment to improved industry performance. International Council on Mining and Minerals (ICMM), London, UK.

Komatsu Company. 2020. The future of mining: Four trends for tomorrow’s success. Company website. Available at: [Accessed 14th March 2021].

Matinde, E., Simate, G., Ndlovu, S. 2018. Mining and metallurgical wastes: a review of recycling and re-use practices. The journal of the Southern African institute of Mining and Metallurgy, volume 118. PDF document. Available at: [Accessed 17 March 2021].

McKinsey&Company. 2021.How digital innovation can improve mining productivity. Company website. Available at: mining/our-insights/how-digital-innovation-can-improve-mining-productivity [Accessed 15th March 2021].

Ojanen, S., Lundström, M., Santasalo-Aarnio, A., Serna Guerrero, R. 2018. Challenging the concept of electrochemical discharge using salt solutions for lithium-ion batteries recycling. PDF document. Available at: [Accessed 17 March 2021].

Oxfam America. (2009). Mining conflicts in Peru: Condition critical. Retrieved from [Accessed 18th March 2021].

Rio Tinto. 2021.Innovation at Pilbara. Company website. Available at: [Accessed 18th March 2021].

Romare M., Dahllöf, L. 2017. The Life Cycle Energy Consumption and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Lithium-Ion Batteries. Available at: [Accessed 16 March 2021].

Sonter, L., Herrera, D., Barrett, D., Galford, G., Moran, C., Soares-Filho, B. Mining drives extensive deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. 2017. Nature Communications 8 (2017).

The Guardian (2016). How developing countries are paying a high price for the global mineral boom. Available at [Accessed 18th March 2021].

The World Bank. (2021). Mongolia: Striking a Balance between Development and Environmental Protection. Available at: [Accessed 15th March 2021].

U.S. Geological Survey. 2020. US Mine production Increasing. Retrieved from: [Accessed 16th March 2021].

Valentino, A. 2020. NS Energy: How the mining industry is embracing the benefits of electrification. WWW document. Updated 6 February 2020. Available at: [Accessed 17th March 2021].

Yang, X., Lin, A., Li, X., Wu, Y., Zhou, W., Chen, Z. 2012. China’s ion-absorption rare earth resources, mining consequences and preservation. Environmental development 8 (2013) 131-136. PDF document. Available at: [Accessed 12 March 2021].

Image: Dominik Vanyi on