Informal And Unrecorded Mining Activity

National mineral production statistics vary in accuracy, and there is probably a certain amount of unrecorded, and often illegal, removal of gravel and rock in every country. Some countries have a large amount of small-scale artisanal mining, some of which may be unregulated and unrecorded. Gold Fields Mineral Services of London's estimate of 175t of gold being produced in 1995 by informal miners worldwide may be an underestimate (M.M. Veiga, personal communication 6 July 1998). Three million carats of diamonds may be mined informally each year in Africa (Holloway 1997). Because of low recovery rates when informal artisanal gold and gem miners open up sites with very low yields, these operators probably shift more than twice the mass of material per net tonne of pure mineral extracted than do their formal mining counterparts. L.K. Jeje (personal communication 1998) suggests a ratio as high as 3.7 million to 1 for artisanal gold mining in the Amazon, as compared with a ratio of about 1 million to 1 for large-scale industrialized gold mining. These operations alone could easily result in the movement of over 400MMT of material per annum, equivalent to nearly 1 per cent of the global mass moved during mineral extraction.

In many parts of the developing world, building materials are worked as small enterprises. People seek the clay, sand, gravel and stone that they need in the nearest most

Coal

Gross production = 18444MMT Net production = 3 787MMT

Coal

Gross production = 18444MMT Net production = 3 787MMT

Petroleum

Gross production = 3 489MMT Net production = 3 065MMT

Iron

Gross production = 3 138MMT Net production = 604MMT

Building Stone

& Aggregates

Gross production = 14186MMT Net production = 10430MMT

Brown Coal & Lignite Gross production = 9024MMT Net production = 930MMT

Building Stone

& Aggregates

Gross production = 14186MMT Net production = 10430MMT

Brown Coal & Lignite Gross production = 9024MMT Net production = 930MMT

Copper

Gross production = 4190MMT Net production = 9.3MMT

Copper

Gross production = 4190MMT Net production = 9.3MMT

Gold

Gross production = 2138MMT Net production = 0.002MMT

Phosphate

Gross production = 477MMT Net production = 119MMT

Petroleum

Gross production = 3 489MMT Net production = 3 065MMT

Iron

Gross production = 3 138MMT Net production = 604MMT

Gold

Gross production = 2138MMT Net production = 0.002MMT

Phosphate

Gross production = 477MMT Net production = 119MMT

Nickel

Gross production = 403MMT Net production = 0.72MMT

Bauxite

Gross production = 302MMT Net production = 101MMT

Clay

Gross production = 231MMT Net production = 154MMT

Zinc

Gross production = 222MMT Net production = 6.9MMT

Figure 28.1 World mineral production and total 'hidden flows' for the 12 commodities producing the largest total materials flows at the global level convenient place and it is inconceivable that these activities are accurately recorded. In Vietnam, for example, at headlands along the coast, individual entrepreneurs quarry granite, while around towns and cities small brick clay pits leave a series of derelict hollows and degraded soils. In inland China, villagers operate small crushers making aggregates from rock quarried from tiny rock outcrops near their fields. Many hundreds of thousands of tonnes of material are worked in this way and in clay pits (Edmonds 1994) and inefficient unauthorized mines (Qu and Li 1994), thereby degrading potential agricultural land. Road construction in remote areas, such as logging roads in Borneo, uses up to 370t of gravel per kilometer (km), and may involve the unrecorded quarrying of over 4000t of rock per year in each major Borneo logging concession (assuming some 10km of road construction or repair each year).

The global amount of material moved by these informal, and largely unrecorded, mining activities is difficult to assess. Assuming that such mining involves 250t per person per year (R. Notstaller, personal communication 25 July 1998) and noting that in India alone about 200000 informal miners (Chakravorty 1991) may be shifting about 50MMT of material each year, about 2.5 per cent of all mining-related materials displacement in India (Lawson and Douglas 1998). While these activities result in substantial amounts of earth movement, they probably add no more than 1 to 5 per cent to the global mass of materials moved during the extraction of minerals (Douglas and Lawson 2000a).

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