Global Challenges for Innovation in Mining Industries


Mineral materials are the foundation of modern industrial society. Innovation is central to meeting the diverse challenges faced by the mining industry.

The main contributions of this book by WIPO and Cambridge University Press are:

  • Provides original statistics and database on mining innovation.
  • Explores relations between mining innovation and other macro-factors such as commodity prices, transport innovation and environmental policy.
  • Provides case studies to analyze the mining innovation in particular countries.

As the global population grows and standards of living in emerging and developing countries rises, the demand for mineral products is increasing. Mining ensures that we have an adequate supply of the raw materials to produce all the components of modern life, and at competitive prices.

Innovation is critical for developing techniques for finding new deposits of minerals, enabling us to recover increasing amounts of minerals from the ground in a cost-effective manner, and ensuring it this is done in a way that is as environmentally responsible. This book provides the first in-depth global analysis of the innovation ecosystem in the mining sector.

A wide range of international contributors assess this from different perspectives, using both a novel mining patent and innovation database and a wide set of analytical approaches.

Testimonials

Editors

  • Giulia Valacchi is based in the Department for Economics and Data Analytics of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as a research fellow.
  • Alica Daly is an experienced IP professional, currently working as a Senior Policy Officer in the Division of Artificial Intelligence Policy of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
  • Julio Raffo is Head of the Innovation Economics Section at the Department for Economics and Data Analytics of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
  • David Humphreys is an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Dundee, Scotland, and former Chief Economist at Norilsk Nickel and Rio Tinto.

Table of Contents

  1. Authors

    • Alica Daly
    • David Humphreys
    • Julio Raffo
    • Giulia Valacchi

    Abstract

    People have been digging in the ground for useful minerals for thousands of years. Stone Age people dug for flints, Bronze Age people for copper. But the manner in which they have dug for minerals has changed out of all recognition. While early miners hacked small amounts of mineral from the ground with antler horns, some of today’s mines employ 300 tonne trucks driven and scheduled by computers. Innovation lies at the heart of the story of mining. In this chapter, we begin by describing the mining industry and its major economic characteristics. We then discuss the role of innovation in the industry and the environment in which it makes places, and summarize some of the major findings to emerge from the subsequent chapters in the book.

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  2. Authors

    • Alica Daly
    • Julio Raffo
    • Giulia Valacchi

    Abstract

    Traditionally, the mining sector has been considered a slow innovator compared to other industries, like the manufacturing or pharmaceutical industries. However, we observe a radical change in the innovation activity of the mining industry in the first half of the 2000s. During this period, mining innovation started to increase rapidly after periods of stagnation and downward trends. To conduct and in-depth investigation of the global trends and patterns behind this change in mining innovation, we formulated a general search strategy to identify patent activity in this sector. The strategy is repeatable over time and in multiple databases. It enabled us to produce a dataset of patents in mining and mining-related technologies. Using this newly-created database we identified at the basis of the change a switch away from refining technologies into exploration and environmental technologies probably explained by the took over of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution. The types of actors active in the mining innovation also changed across time: there are now many more individuals, research centers and universities innovating in mining and relatively less companies. Finally, the country composition in the pool of mining innovation activity has radically changed with the appearance of China on the global scene starting from early 2000.

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  3. Authors

    • Bruno Casella
    • Lorenzo Formenti

    Abstract

    The purpose of this chapter is to integrate the book main theme on innovation and IP in the mining industry by providing an FDI angle that puts at the center the role of mining multinational enterprises (MNEs), both as main actors of international production and in their linkages with host countries' government and social and economic context. The issue of FDI spillovers, both technological and of other nature, has a particularly critical development dimension in the mining industry where the bulk of investment take place in developing countries, often LDCs (least developed countries).

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  4. Authors

    • Michiko Iizuka
    • Carlo Pietrobelli
    • Fernando Vargas

    Abstract

    This chapter aims at broadening the scope of innovation in the mining sector, with a focus on emerging countries based on the experience of Latin American countries. The background idea is that today innovation can foster growth of many countries endowed with natural resource in new ways that were not considered in the past. However, innovation needs to be interpreted in a broad sense: the mining sector is characterized by large numbers of patents in many countries, that tend to be concentrated in few very large companies. But mining cannot become a true engine of growth for the whole economy unless linkages within the sector and beyond involving other sectors – following the logic of a value chain and systems of innovation– are strengthened and deepened. This requires processes of diffusion, adoption and adaptation of innovation and technology.

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  5. Authors

    • Francesco Dionori
    • Maryam Zehtabchi

    Abstract

    This chapter at its core looks at transport innovation in the mining sector between 1990-2016. The focus is on the raw materials that require extensive transport resources for movement, are usually transported in bulk and do not have significant unitary value. Main drivers of innovation are reducing transport costs and increasing the efficiency. Others revolve around safety and environmental issues. The chapter uses patent data to explore innovations both within the mining area and transport outside in the form of haulage to destination. It investigates all relevant modes of transport for mining sector namely; road, rail, conveyers and maritime.

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  6. Authors

    • Maxwell Andersen
    • Joëlle Noailly

    Abstract

    This chapter examines the relationship between the mining sector and environmental regulation, particularly whether more strict national environmental policies lead to increased environmental innovation in the mining sector, and whether higher stringency harms overall mining sector productivity.

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  7. Authors

    • Alica Daly
    • David Humphreys
    • Julio D. Raffo
    • Giulia Valacchi

    Abstract

    Given the boom in demand, the decreasing returns of existing mining sites and the sustainability requirements, it is not surprising that mining related commodities have seen a remarkable increase in price over the past two decades. Equally predictable was the well-documented boom in mining production and exports that followed. What has happened to the rate of mining-related innovation during this period remains an understudied topic. In this chapter we study the effect of variation in commodity price on the innovation carried out within the mining industry. In particular, we look at whether the existence of cycles in commodity price, distinguishing between short- and long-term cycles – the so-called super-cycles – affects innovation levels.

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  8. Authors

    • Domenica Blundi
    • Marina Filgueiras Jorge
    • Sergio Medeiros Paulino de Carvalho
    • Ana Claudia Nonato da Silva Loureiro
    • Vitoria Orind
    • Gustavo Travassos Pereira da Silva
    • Felipe Veiga Lopes

    Abstract

    The chapter describes the Brazilian mining sector, focusing on its competitive dynamics, strategic challenges and technological needs, as well as institutional arrangements to promote innovation. The chapter aims to identify how mining firms and METS have been dealing with technology innovation in Brazil, by two mechanisms: technology protection and technology transfer. To achieve this goal, a research was made based on a sample of residents and non-residents companies. The study intended to identify the main areas of technological protection within Brazilian mining sector, which type of company is concerned with a technological protection agenda in Brazil, how companies have been appropriating new technologies and technological knowledge through import contracts, and the role of METS in this dynamic. The analysis ranges from 2000 to 2015 and data was provided by INPI Brazil Economic Affairs Advisory. In addition, the chapter also presents the case of Vale S.A., selected on the basis of its representativeness and importance for the mining sector, focusing on its strategies to mitigate challenges and technological needs.

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  9. Authors

    • Claudio Bravo-Ortega
    • Juan José Price

    Abstract

    The importance of the copper mining sector in Chile is unquestioned and is reflected in many production, international trade and fiscal revenue indicators. The sector, however, faces major challenges, namely deeper mines, scarcity of (and consequently more expensive) key inputs such as water and energy, lower-grade ores, concern for neighboring communities and respect for the environment. Innovation appears to be key to tackling these issues. In this chapter we present some preliminary evidence about the way both mining firms and suppliers innovate and whether (and if yes how) they protect their innovations in Chile.

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  10. Authors

    • James Forman
    • Asrat Tesfayesus
    • Andrew A. Toole

    Abstract

    This chapter explores technological innovations in mineral mining health and safety using patent data. Starting with the WIPO set of mining patents discussed earlier in this volume, our analysis focuses on patents filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office. We begin by describing the broad trends in US mineral mining patents as well as the subgroup related to health and safety. Next we provide an overview of the development of US mining legislation culminating with the passage of the US MINER Act of 2006. Interestingly, the MINER Act of 2006 established a competitive grant program to stimulate health and safety related innovations. The remainder of the chapter describes this program and the patented technological innovations associated with federally-supported research through the program. The final section performs descriptive regression analyses to relate the innovations stimulated by the program to health and safety outcomes in mineral mining.

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  11. Authors

    • Mazahir Bhagat
    • Elias Collette
    • Baharak Courtney Doagoo
    • Amira Khadr
    • Sean Martineau
    • Marc Neville

    Abstract

    Canada is one of the largest mining nations in the world, ranking in the top five countries in the global production of 13 major minerals. The Canadian mining sector contributed $56 billion to Canada’s Gross Domestic Product (approximately 4%) and accounted for 19% of the value of Canadian goods exports in 2015. Despite the economic strength of the sector, R&D, innovation, and commercialization remain challenges for the Canadian mining sector. With increasing environmental standards and regulations, companies operating in this sector are continually searching for technological solutions to advance sustainable mining. Patent data is an excellent starting point for understanding these innovative efforts as the information contained in patents reveals the specific technical knowledge embedded in the invention. This detailed information allows us to see who is patenting and what they are patenting, allowing for the identification of collaboration opportunities while avoiding costly duplicative research. The chapter provides a lens into the patenting effort in the Canadian mining sector, including trends, landscape maps and collaboration and is the result of a collaborative effort between the Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO).

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  12. Authors

    • Rohan Amburle
    • Catriona Bruce
    • Emma Francis
    • Alma Lacken
    • Greg Maloney
    • Deanna Trainham

    Abstract

    Australia is an attractive investment destination in the global mineral resources sector. With the world's largest identified resources of nine major mineral commodities, Australia's robust mining industry is a world leader. Australia is in the top five world locations as a producer of twenty important commodities, including gold, bauxite, iron ore, rare earths, mineral sands, zinc, lead and coal. We analysed patenting activity in the light of company participation in Australia’s R&D Tax Incentive. Patenting activity and R&D Tax Incentive expenditure broadly followed similar trends over time, peaking in the years around 2010 and declining thereafter. Research and development expenditure under the R&D Tax Incentive in the mining sector has grown six-fold from 2000 01, peaking in 2008 09 with an expenditure of $3.74 billion, with large firms having an expenditure six times that of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). This was followed by a 67 percent decline to 2015 16, which represented a ten-year low for large firms.

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