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Mining and Metals and the Circular Economy

3 December 2015

The purpose of this report is to discuss the definition and scope of the circular economy concept, and to explore the role of the mining and metals sector in such an economy.

  • This publication explores the role of mining and metals in the circular economy, an emerging concept that aims to draw the maximum value from materials. In practice this involves ensuring that materials are produced responsibly, kept in use for as long as possible through intelligent product design and application that considers recycling and disposal.
  • It also raises fundamental questions about the structure of product value chains and how they interface with the world around them.
  • This publication lays out the characteristics of a circular economy, and the current and potential future contributions of the mining and metals industry in such an economy.
  • A circular economy will involve a shift in how we think about the use of minerals and metals from a production-disposal mentality towards on-going use and re-use. Existing examples of circularity in the mining and metals sector, such as recycling, re-use or design for disassembly, form part of the circular economy concept and lay the foundation for expansion to other products.
  • The unique properties of metals – such as conductivity, strength, durability and recyclability – make the extension of their use vital in solving the fundamental challenges of current and future generations.