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From boring needs to cool instruments. – Can codes and standards assist to ensure fair, responsible and legal mining?

Worldwide 80-100 million people are involved in small-scale mining, another 4 million people in "normal" mining in order to survive and to gain income for their families. Many strategic minerals, such as Coltan, Cobalt, etc., are shipped to Europe from small-scale mining. Materials from legal mining mix with illegal operations and disappear undetected in refineries. Responsible, legal, and fair mining can only emerge if we progress with transformation in this sector. A rethinking of ethical and moral principles. But is that even possible? Yes, it is achievable! When governments, mine owners, small-scale miners and social communities come together and are more interested in long-term profits than in "quick & dirty money". The standards for responsible mining already exist. OECD, IFC, UNFC and others have already developed and framed these standards. Only their practice in the field and the implementation of these standards in the real world remains difficult. Our supply chains often start right in the bush in the hinterland of many developing countries. This is where people want to earn money through honest and fair work. Communities want to profit from the "exploitation" of their natural resources. Governments must be able to participate in the sales & exports and monitor them. Environmental protection and human rights are the highest good and must be introduced and always respected. This can only be achieved through a very lengthy process of training and further education of all those involved. Mining standards help us to monitor and evaluate progresses. Based on a feasibility study in Ni mining in South America, fluorspar mining in Germany and small-scale mining for tantalum in Liberia, we discuss the necessary transformations in the raw materials sector.


Christian Masurenko1
1ECTerra GEO Consult GBR, Germany
GeoBerlin 2023