Measuring Innovation in the Mining Industry with Patents

Economic Research Working Paper No. 56

Author(s): Mr. Julio Raffo, Ms. Alica Daly, Ms. Giulia Valacchi | Publication year: 2019

License: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 IGO License

Traditionally, the mining sector has been considered a slow innovator compared to other industries, like the manufacturing or pharmaceutical industries. However, we observe an upsurge 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 structural 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 structural 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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