Evaluation of Technological Changes’ Impact on Scarcity of Minerals by a Value Chain Approach: Introducing a Conceptual Model

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

Faculty of Economics, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Adopting a policy and deciding on long-term investment in the mining industry by a government or
private sector actors depends strongly on the ability to predict the scarcity of mineral reserves. Change
in scarcity of mineral reserves is a function of several technological and non-technological factors.
Among them, change in technology is the most significant factor affecting scarcity. This paper aims to
investigate the relationship between mineral scarcity changes and technological changes. In this study,
the effective factors on mineral scarcity were initially considered, and the main and most commonly
proposed approaches in the field of scarcity were briefly analysed. The problems associated with these
approaches in explaining the relationship between scarcity and changes in technology are then
discussed. These approaches are mainly limited to the past available data, whose direction is the
development “from scarcity to technological changes”; therefore, they are inefficient in predicting
scarcity due to technological changes. To overcome such limitations, a chain technology method was
introduced with an approach moving “from technological changes to scarcity”. In this approach,
scarcity is firstly explained based on the objective technological changes, and secondly it is related to
some technologies affecting scarcity, such as mineral exploration, exploitation, mineral processing,
metal production, consumer goods and recycling of scrap metals. The results obtained from this paper
can be effectively used to make decisions regarding investment in the mineral industry.

Keywords