POLITECNICO DI TORINO “RESPONSIBLE SMALL MINING

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POLITECNICO DI TORINO “RESPONSIBLE SMALL MINING
POLITECNICO DI TORINO
I FACOLTA’ DI INGEGNERIA
MASTER IN ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING
“RESPONSIBLE SMALL MINING”: DISCUSSION OF SOCIOENVIRONMENTAL AND TECHNICAL-ECONOMIC
ASPECTS FOR A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL
Candidate:
Henrique DADALTO SAHAO
Supervisors:
Prof. Marilena CARDU
Prof. Giovanni Andrea BLENGINI
Prof. Paco MELIA’
JULY, 2013
Academic Year 2012-2013
“The future belongs to those who believe
in the beauty of their dreams. Happiness
is not a goal; it is a by-product”
(Eleanor Roosevelt)
DEDICATION
Os frutos desta tese são dedicados, em primeira instancia, -com amor, sem nenhum
titubeio e dúvida- à minha família. Minha instituição-base maior. Minha origem. Minha
raiz indelével.
Dedico não apenas este trabalho, mas todo o germinar e o maturar de meu percurso até
aqui, acima de tudo, a meus pais.
À minha mãe, quem amo inexprimivelmente. Minha musa. A mulher em minha vida.
Cujo amor incondicional sempre em mim depositado permeou toda a minha criação, todo
o meu ego. Cuja dedicação e cujo coração espetacular elevam nossa relação ao admirável
patamar de paixão filial exaltada. Cujo afeto, cujo apoio e cujos valores cristãos me
guiaram, em todos os momentos de minha vida, pelo caminho justo, de princípios fortes.
Cuja confiança e cujas orientações me impulsionaram sempre à frente, a superar
dificuldades, a enfrentar problemas e a valorizar as benesses diversas que a vida me
proporciona.
A meu pai, com exacerbado carinho. Meu ídolo. Meu espelho de vida. Cujo esmero e cujo
afinco incansável, cuja força de vontade e cujas determinações sem igual foram
responsáveis por engendrar esta nossa família- nosso maior valor-, por seu sustento e sua
união inabaláveis. Cujo suor do trabalho de todo dia permitiu, valorizou e estimulou,
durante todos esses anos, a minha formação tanto acadêmica e profissional, quanto
pessoal e humana. Cujo orgulho que sente por mim me faz encher os olhos de lágrimas e
me impele hoje a poder afirmar, com grande emoção, que cada gota derramada de seu
suor valeu a pena.
Dedico esta tese também, de coração, a meus irmãos. A meu irmão, Lucas, com amor
intenso. Meu gêmeo-gênio-amigo-irmão. Cujo companheirismo e cuja amizade
transcendem a barreira da irmandade e tornam a nossa relação algo incondicional,
incansável, inenarrável. Cujo ombro parceiro me apoiou em todos os momentos em que
precisei. Cujo sentimento que nutro é há 23 anos incrível, umbilical.
À minha irmã, Júlia, de coração entregue. Minha principessa. Cuja áurea, cuja confiança,
cuja reciprocidade e cuja amizade foram sempre excepcionais. Cuja paixão que a ela
dedico sempre me encorajaram a prosseguir em meus caminhos. Cuja doçura, cuja
autenticidade de caráter e cuja delicadeza de emoções me enchem de emoção e
admiração.
Esta tese gostaria de dedicar, em adendo, a todas as pessoas que, com suas idiossincrasias
e peculiaridades, são responsáveis em parte pela sua conclusão.
A todos meus demais familiares e amigos-familiares. Cujo sustento e cuja força sempre
me inspiraram.
A todos os meus amigos, com grande honra e lisonja. Aos meus caros amigos- irmãos de
Campinas, desde a época de Notre Dame. Cuja amizade, cuja confiança e cuja parceria
foram e são fora de serie. Cujos momentos únicos pelos quais passamos juntos fazem
com que esta caminhada hoje aqui consagrada tenha sido deleitosa, divertida e fantástica.
Cuja convivência repleta de experiências inesquecíveis tonificou o lugar-comum chamado
dia-a-dia com momentos nobres e únicos.
Aos belos amigos que encontrei aqui nesta nossa Torino, com muita gratidão. Cuja
amizade comprovou que a experiência aqui vivenciada foi a cada dia maravilhosa. Cujas
birras tomadas no Texas, cujas seratas e cujas cenas e reuniões regulares na Ro7 – tanto
em sua velha quanto em sua nova geração- me permitiram construir a minha família
espetacular em Turim. Ecoando Umberto Eco: “Senza l'Italia, Torino sarebbe più o meno
la stessa cosa. Ma senza Torino, l'Italia sarebbe molto diversa.”
A todos os amigos dos demais ciclos sociais em que convivi e dos quais faço parte. Da
POLI. Do Politecnico. Da ASP. De Campinas e de São Paulo-sem esquecer as pessoas
excepcionais que tive o prazer de conhecer e me envolver nos demais lugares pelos quais
passei. Cujas particularidades de comportamento e cuja insubstituível presença me
mostraram perenemente que a beleza da vida não reside na banalidade de seus clichês,
mas na particularidade de suas inúmeras riquezas.
Para finalizar, dedico a Deus, com enorme agradecimento. Cujo Espírito Santo me enviou
durante todo este tempo, me protegeu e me conduziu, sempre na luz, na fé, e no poder
cristão, em meu longo percurso.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Ringrazio in primo luogo i miei relatori per il prezioso supporto offerto durante tutto lo
svolgimento del presente lavoro e con i quali è stato un indescrivibile piacere poter
lavorare insieme. La prof.ssa.Ing.Marilena Cardu per i consigli, i suggerimenti e
l’infaticabile disponibilità nel seguirmi con entusiasmo e personalità accattivante. Il
prof.Ing.Giandrea Blengini per i commenti, il continuo aiuto e presenza. Il prof.Ing. Paco
Melià che ha piacevolmente accettato l’incarico di essere il mio co-relatore.
Ringrazio inoltre l’ingegnere Gianluca Odetto, i suoi collaboratori Paolo Cambuli e
Deborah Lazzarini sempre molto disponibili e che mi hanno fornito fondamentali dati,
informazioni e consulenze per l’elaborazione dei casi-studio sulle cave del bacino di
Luserna/Rorà.
Ringrazio poi tutti gli addetti e il personale delle cave di Rorà e Luserna che mi hanno
supportato con informazioni e insegnamenti per lo svolgimento degli studi di cava.
Special thanks, moreover, to professor Deborah Shields for her advices, the important
suggested bibliographic references and for continuously encouraging me to go deeper.
Agradeço o professor Giorgio de Tomi e toda a equipe do LAPOL- Departamento de
Engenharia de Minas e de Petróleo da USP- pelo auxilio na concepção do tema da presente
tese e pelo material fornecido para o desenvolvimento da mesma em colaboração.
Agradeço também o professor Carlos Peiter, do CETEM, pelas valiosas dicas à
elaboração das analises de sustentabilidade e por ceder gentilmente o estudo de caso
realizado no Brasil como material de apoio e confronto para os trabalhos da tese.
Aproveito para agradecer de coração a todos os mestres com os quais tive a honra de
aprender e que viabilizaram e catalisaram todo este meu processo de formação hoje
culminante. A todos os meus incríveis professores da época de Notre Dame, que me
ensinaram a pensar criticamente, a crescer sensivelmente e a agir como cidadão. Por
ultimo, aos exemplares mestres da USP e do Politecnico di Torino.
ABSTRACT
Artisanal (ASM) and Small-Scale Mining (SSM) are well-known sources of technicalenvironmental, health and safety impacts and socio-economic conflicts. One the one
hand, the negative features of SSM are as well associated with obsolete mining and
processing techniques, natural resources and land degradation and old-fashioned or
lacking managerial frameworks. On the other hand, in accordance with the common
trend of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), small mining and quarrying units provide
diverse socioeconomic benefits to local communities (e.g.: employment) and mineral
revenues that contribute to mineral export bases and overall national economies.
Notwithstanding, crucial role have the small-scale operations at the global panorama of
the mining sector, not only in the developing world, but also in other world’s zones.
Therefore, it is fundamental to critically study and analyze small-scale mining and
quarrying operations in order to firstly acquire knowledge about main characteristics,
challenges and raising a diagnostic of current realities, lacks and necessary improvements;
secondly, proceeding a comparison and a sustainable assessment among different
contexts and different mineral enterprises of small-scale dimension-stone quarrying
(specially in Brazil and in Italy); and, finally, proposing a framework with tools and best
practices for a responsible small-scale business model towards sustainable principles.
The idealized model will attempt to assist SSM in turning their operations into a
sustainable, manageable and profitable small-scale extractive unit, hence attractive to
investments.
Key-words: Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining; Small-Scale quarries; Dimension stone
quarrying; Sustainable Development; Sustainability Assessment Tools; Systemic Mining
Management.
RIASSUNTO
Attività estrattive minerarie e cavistiche artigianali e su piccola scala (ASM e SSM) sono
ben note fonti di impatto tecnico-ambientale, alla salute e sicurezza e di conflitti socioeconomici. Da un lato, le caratteristiche negative del SSM sono anche associate a tecniche
di estrazione e lavorazione obsolete, al degrado del territorio e delle risorse naturali o
carenti modelli di gestione. D'altra parte, secondo la tendenza comune di piccole e medie
imprese (PMI), le piccole miniere e cave forniscono diversi benefici socio-economici per
le comunità locali (ad esempio l'occupazione) e ricavi minerali che contribuiscono a basi
di esportazione di minerali e alle economie nazionali.
Nonostante, ruolo fondamentale hanno le operazioni su piccola scala nel panorama
globale del settore minerario, non solo nel mondo in via di sviluppo, ma anche in ulteriori
zone del mondo. Pertanto, è fondamentale studiare e analizzare le miniere su piccola scala
e le operazioni di estrazione al fine di acquisire in primo luogo la conoscenza sulle
caratteristiche principali, le sfide e sollevando una diagnosi della realtà attuale e i
miglioramenti necessari; in secondo luogo, procedendo un confronto e una valutazione
sostenibile tra differenti contesti e imprese minerarie, con speciale interesse alle cave di
pietre ornamentali (in particolare, in Brasile e in Italia); e, infine, proponendo un quadro
di strumenti e buone pratiche per un modello di business responsabile verso principi di
sostenibilità.
Il modello idealizzato tenterà di aiutare le realtà SSM nel trasformare le loro attività in
unità estrattive sostenibili, gestibili e redditizie, dunque attraente anche per gli
investimenti.
Parole-chiave: Miniere Artigianali e su piccola scala; Cave di piccole dimensioni; Cave di
Pietre Ornamentali; Sviluppo Sostenibile; Strumenti di Valutazione della Sostenibilità;
Gestione Sistemica nell’industria mineraria.
CONTENTS
I. CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION...............................................................1
I.1.Prelude……………………..........................................................................................1
I.2.Small-Scale Businesses: Relevance and Challenges………....................................4
I.3.Aims and Attempts…………….………….............................................................11
II. CHAPTER 2: SMALL MINING..............................................................14
II.1.Generalities……..........................................................................................................14
II.2.Conceptualization & Description….........................................................................19
II.3.Facts, Figures and Sizes………................................................................................27
III.CHAPTER 3: SMALL-SCALE MININGINDUSTRIALIZED & DEVELOPED REALITIES.……..........................40
III.1.SSM: Industrialized and developed positive contexts..........................................40
III.2.Italian small-scale mining: highlights…………....................................................46
III.3.Dimension stones extractive industry in Italy……..............................................49
IV.CHAPTER 4: SMALL-SCALE MINING- EMERGENT, ARTISANAL
& DEVELOPMENT REALITIES.............................................................78
IV.1.SSM: Artisanal, Development and other impacting realities……….................78
IV.2.Brazilian Small-Scale mining: Highlighting issues…………………....…........85
IV.3. Non metallic, Industrial Minerals and Dimension Stones extractive sector in
Brazil…………………………………………………………………………..….........95
V.CHAPTER 5: CASE STUDY- ITALIAN DIMENSION STONES’
SMALL-SCALE QUARRYING....................................................................100
V.1.Study area: Rorà & Luserna small-scale quarries…….........................................100
V.2.Framework of analysis……………..…………...................................................131
V.3.Case Study………………………………....……...............................................140
VI.CHAPTER 6: CASE STUDY- BRAZILIAN DIMENSION STONES’
SMALL-SCALE QUARRYING....................................................................156
VI.1.Small Mining & Quarrying in Brazil: Features and Methodologies.................156
VI.2.Brazilian Small-Scale Based Mineral Clusters......................................................159
VI.3.Case Study: Padua Natural Stone Cluster and Sustainability Assessment…..163
VII.CHAPTER 7: SSM AND A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL &
CONCLUSIONS..........................................................................................175
VII.1.A Practical Approach for Assessment and Management of Resources and
Reserves in SSM................................................................................................................175
VII.2.Best Practices, Instruments and Recommendations for a Sustainable Business
Model........................................................................................................................ ..........183
VII.3.Conclusions.............................................................................................................193
VIII.BIBLIOGRAPHY………………………………………………………196
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
I.1. Prelude:
“On the problem of 'scale', Professor Leopold Kohr has written brilliantly and
convincingly: its relevance to the economics of permanence is obvious. Small-scale
operations, no matter how numerous, are always less likely to be harmful to the natural
environment than large-scale ones, simply because their individual force is small in
relation to the recuperative forces of nature. There is wisdom in smallness if only on
account of the smallness and patchiness of human knowledge, which relies on experiment
far more than on understanding. The greatest danger invariably arises from the ruthless
application, on a vast scale, of partial knowledge such as we are currently witnessing in the
application of nuclear energy, of the new chemistry in agriculture, of transportation
technology, and countless other things.
Although even small communities are sometimes guilty of causing serious erosion,
generally as a result of ignorance, this is trifling in comparison with the devastations
caused by gigantic groups motivated by greed, envy, and the lust for power. It is
moreover obvious that men, organized in small units, will take better care of their bit of
land or other natural resources than anonymous companies or megalomaniac
governments which pretend to themselves that the whole universe is their legitimate
quarry.”[1]
The paragraphs above belong to the renowned book of Schumacher (1973), Small is
Beautiful. Indeed Small-Scale Business and Small-Scale Economy are subjects often heard
and approached contemporary. Nevertheless, there is still an obscurity associated to those
terms and how, when and in which contexts they can be applied and whether in those
contexts small enterprises could be successful. Those uncertainties lead frequently to the
unavoidable and lying question when analyzing small-scale realities: “Is Small Beautiful?”
In his book, Schumacher emphasizes that one of the hugest current problematic is that
related to socioeconomic ‘Peace and Permanence’. In order to achieve permanent
economic progress and social stability and peace humankind must act in a wisdom way,
with moderate environmental footprint, since natural resources and nature’s capital asset
1
are limited. There cannot be sense in economic, scientific and technological indiscernible
limit for economic growth while there is the bottleneck of undeniable limited
environmental inputs. Thereby the predatory and greedy search for prosperity supported
by an accelerate expansion of needs is an antithesis of wise sustainability and peaceful
lifestyles.
A more sustainable anthropologic relation with nature and towards permanent
development encompasses the tendency to stimulate and foment small-scale economic
activities. Schumacher (1973) goes deeper:
“In short we can say today that man is far too clever to be able to survive without
wisdom. No-one is really working for peace unless he is working primarily for the
restoration of wisdom. The assertion that 'foul is useful and fair is not' is the antithesis of
wisdom. The hope that the pursuit of goodness and virtue can be postponed until we
have attained universal prosperity and that by the single minded pursuit of wealth,
without bothering our heeds about spiritual and moral questions we could establish peace
on earth is an unrealistic, unscientific and irrational hope. The exclusion of wisdom from
economics, science and technology was something which we could perhaps get away with
for a little while as long as we were relatively unsuccessful; but now that we have become
very successful the problem of spiritual and moral truth moves into the central position.
From an economic point of view, the central concept of wisdom is permanence. We must
study the economics of permanence. Nothing makes economic sense unless its
continuance for a long time can be projected without running into absurdities. There can
be 'growth' towards a limited objective but there cannot be unlimited generalized growth.
It is more than likely, as Gandhi said, that 'Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's
need, but not for every man's greed'. Permanence is incompatible with a predatory
attitude which rejoices in the fact that 'what were luxuries for our fathers have become
necessities for us”.
“The economics of permanence implies a profound reorientation of science and
technology, which have to open their doors to wisdom and, in fact, have to incorporate
wisdom into their very structure. Scientific or technological 'solutions' which poison the
environment or degrade the social structure and man himself are of no benefit, no matter
how brilliantly conceived or how great their superficial attraction. Ever bigger machines,
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entailing ever bigger concentrations of economic power and exerting ever greater violence
against the environment, do not represent progress: they are a denial of wisdom.
Wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology towards the organic, the
gentle, the non-violent, the elegant and beautiful. Peace, as has often been said, is
indivisible - how then could peace be built on a foundation of reckless science and violent
technology? We must look for a revolution in technology to give us inventions and
machines which reverse the destructive trends now threatening us all. We need methods
and equipment which are cheap enough so that they are accessible to virtually everyone;
suitable for small-scale application; and compatible with man's need for creativity.
Out of these three characteristics are tomorrow non-violence and a relationship of man to
nature which guarantees permanence. If only one of these three is neglected, things are
bound to go wrong.”
Although the number of industries and firms that become large-scale units is increasingly
significant nowadays- mainly as intent to achieve the so called ‘economies of scale’- it is
also true that the number of small-scale units is progressively bigger and provide to
society really fruitful developments in many cases.
The fundamental point is that there is not an only adequate scale when analyzing the
question of businesses size. The adequacy depends always on the context faced and on
the activity performed.
It is extremely important to avoid Manichaeism and duality towards the issue of scale. For
the overall economy and for the society as a whole, both small and large structures are
necessary. The insistent idolatry of the gigantism must be avoided, although it does not
mean that large scale companies are not essential for the well-being of our socioeconomic
system. Moreover, the values and virtues of the small- with its human and organic
approach- should as well be emphasized- when it applies of course!
For every activity there is a certain more fitting scale. The more active and intimate the
tasks, the smaller tends to be the number of people that can take part in those and closer
the relationship arrangements that are likely to be established. In fact, the question of
scale is markedly crucial today in political, social and economic affairs.
3
The smallness philosophy is specially justified because people, when working in
productive activities, can behave genuinely as themselves whether organized in small
comprehensible groups. Consequently even multinational companies and huge
corporations will benefit of strategic advantages working in articulated structures able to
deal with a multiplicity of small-scale units within their bigger overall skeleton.
As a matter of fact, searching for original small logics, inserted in the broader sphere of
an enterprise, is associated with the search for more intimacy, higher coherency and
increasing levels of manageability in the diverse sub processes that compound the larger
productive activity.
The beauty of smallness is therefore related to intimacy and more easily manageable
enterprises. It is fundamental however to analyse now what are the characteristics and the
socioeconomic features peculiar to small businesses and how they support such types of
activities.
I.2. Small-Scale Businesses: Relevance and Challenges:
Referred in the literature as SMEs (Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises), that type of
business, according to the European Commission [2]:
 Represent more than 99% of all European Businesses;
 Provide 2 out of 3 of the private sector jobs;
 Contribute to more than 50% of the total value-added created by businesses in the
European Union;
 Are essential part of European Economy framework as responsible for wealth and
economic growth;
 90% of SMEs are micro enterprises with less than 10 employees;
 Are in a total of 23 million businesses in the European Union zone;
 Are responsible for around 75 million jobs.
To classify a business as SME the European Union law from January, 2005 considers two
main aspects: number of employees and either turnover (personnel or human resources’
4
renewal) or balance sheet total, subdividing SMEs in micro, small and medium-sized
enterprises:
Figure 1: Factors considered to defining a SME. Source: extracted from The New SME Definition: User Guide and
Model Declaration- Enterprise and Industry Publications, European Commission.
Enterprise
Category
Medium-sized
Small
Micro
SME threshold
Annual Work Unit
Annual
(AWU)- Employees
Turnover
< 250
≤ € 50 m
< 50
≤ € 10 m
< 10
≤€2m
Annual Balance
Sheet Total
≤ € 43 m
≤ € 10 m
≤€2m
Table 1: Classifying a SME. Source: adapted from The New SME Definition: User Guide and Model DeclarationEnterprise and Industry Publications, European Commission.
The classification above applies for individual firms only. In the case of a firm which is
part of a larger grouping it might be appropriate to consider employee/turnover/balance
sheet data from that grouping too, in such a way to take into account the existence and
intensity of financial links among enterprises.
For member countries of EU the use of SME definition is voluntary, despite of the strong
invitation of European Commission to apply it the mostly possible.
5
SMEs are currently considered crucial for European Economy as source of employment
and income, innovation generation and to feed competitiveness. On the other hand,
considering the cash flow problems and bureaucracy issues often faced by those
businesses, the support of small enterprises is a priority policy for the European Union.
In this effort, the European Commission has created in 2008 the Small Business Act (SBA)
for Europe, a set of pro-enterprises measures for helping SMEs that encompasses
legislative proposes on late-payments and accounting advantages; SME-friendly principles
to guide the conception and implementation; diverse funding schemes to provide access
to finance and delivering money to small businesses; stimulus for entrepreneurship and
goals on reducing administrative burdens.
The Small Business Act includes also the “Think Small First” Principle, which claims for
listening to SMEs before introducing new laws, examining the effect legislation will have
on small enterprises and helping companies.
The difficulty of access to finance by SMEs has been intensified by the global economic
crisis of 2008 and is particularly justified due to:
 Difficulty of SMEs to borrow money and obtaining capital, because of collateral
lack and short track/credit history;
 Hard access to microcredit, considered by many banks as a high-risk, low-return
activity, with high handling costs;
 Reluctance of external investors to invest in small businesses start-ups and
innovative firms due to the high risks and transactions costs. As a consequence,
SMEs find it difficult to raise capital (equity investment) to support their activities;
 Cash-flow problematic and late-payments;
 Scarce research funds;
 Restricted resources, especially in the start-up phase, imply reduced access to new
technologies.
In a way to try to ensure adequate financing the European Union organizes periodically
forums to structure the monetary support to Small Business, attempting to offer easier
access to loans (providing loan guarantees), microcredit and financial help from the
European Investment Bank (EIB).
6
Small Businesses are notably feed by entrepreneur spirit and innovation. The exchange
and sharing of good practices and policies and the study of successful examples of SMEs
are efficient alternatives to foment and catalyze new enterprises. For instance, the
European Enterprise Awards is an initiative launched by the European Commission to
identify and reward excellence among public sector authorities in promoting
entrepreneurship and small businesses.
Also in the ambit of the European Commission, significant importance is given to
safeguarding SME’s intellectual property and really relevant is the support and promotion
to Eco-Innovation in Small Businesses’ clusters. The effort is in a way to facilitate the
transferring of know-how between small businesses in services and technologies that
create sustainable growth and environmental solutions able to engender not only benefits
to nature, but also jobs, competitiveness and cost savings towards eco-efficient solutions.
As highlighted above, small businesses vary widely in size. They are also characterized by
independence of action, impact of governmental regulations and policies and differing
organizational structures and varied management styles, generating then diverse capacities
for growth.
According to Churchill and Lewis (1983) [3], Small Businesses face common problems
and, thus, their points of similarities can be merged in a framework to better understand
the nature, the characteristics and the problems of those businesses, allowing
entrepreneurs to analyze challenges, assess and compare possible improvements and
upgrades. The authors proposed a framework based on five stages of development of the
business (Existence, Survival, Success, Take-off and Resources Maturity- as shown in
Figure 2), each one characterized by five management factors: managerial style;
organizational structure; extent of formal systems; major strategic goals; and the owner’s
involvement in the business.
As it is noticeable from the Figure 3 below, while the business evolutes from the existence
and survival phases- when owner’s presence is strong, necessity to raise funds and
generate cash is critical and formal structures and strategic planning are incipient- to
success and consolidation/maturation phases- when owner must open space for
delegation and more decentralized staff, and operational/strategic planning are extensive
7
and well developed- the prosperity of the business will depend on the capacity of taking
advantage of entrepreneur spirit, consolidated financial resources and small and
manageable size.
Figure 2: Growth Stages- Framework for Small Businesses. Source: extracted from CHURCHILL, N.C.;LEWIS,
V.L. The Five Stages of Small Business Growth. Harvard Business Review, Boston,MA-U.S.A., May-June 1983.
Figure 3: Stages of Business growth and related management factors. Source: extracted from CHURCHILL,
N.C.;LEWIS, V.L. The Five Stages of Small Business Growth. Harvard Business Review, Boston,MA-U.S.A.,
May-June 1983.
8
In the context of the United States, small businesses also represent expressive figures in
the national economy. According to the U.S. Small Businesses Administration [4], SMEs:
 Make up 99.7% of U.S. employee firms;
 Represent 64% of net new private-sector jobs (11.8 million jobs created between
1993 and 2011);
 Account for 98% of firms exporting goods;
 Are in total 33% of exporting value;
 Were in total 27.9 million small businesses in 2010.
An enterprise is considered small-size in the U.S. if an independent business having fewer
than 500 employees. In fact, small businesses can vary from home-based ones to
franchises till nonemployee business (business without employees). Small businesses have
important impact on patents’ generation. Small patenting firms produce, for instance,
sixteen times more patents then large ones.
Shifting the analysis to the Brazilian context, SMEs have important contribution to
economy and society as well. In the position of a developing country, with relative stable
economy, Brazil has been experiencing new and interesting opportunities for businesses,
playing small enterprises a highlighting role to the network of businesses generated,
According to Sebrae [5], Small Businesses in Brazil:
 Represent 99% of national companies;
 Constitute a segment that provides more than a half of formal jobs- about 15
million employees;
 Have provided in the last decade 6,1 million of formal jobs (48% of the total
number of jobs created);
 Are important source of income generation to the State;
 Are characterized by dynamism and consumption raise;
 Express astonishing canal of wealth distributing;
 Put together account for more than 20% of the Gross National Product (GNP);
 Are involved currently as principal players in governmental policies for
environmental, social and economic sustainability.
9
Small Businesses are considered strategic factor for economic development in Brazil and,
in that context, expressive incentives have been provided to competitiveness gathering by
SMEs, particularly through positive socio-environmental impacting sustainable practices.
Stimulus to the economic model based on eco-efficiency/eco-efficacy aiming to eradicate
poverty and provide social wellbeing is in the center of SMEs policies. In the corporative
sphere an increasing demand for a model compatible with the exigencies of sustainable
business and of compromise with the multiple social actors drives the development of the
small enterprises. Nowadays sustainability is a requirement for competitiveness and, as a
consequence, businesses must technically adequate its processes; assess products
lifecycles; manage residues; keep energetic efficiency; systematically analyze suppliers;
transparently interact with consumers progressively more selective and employ
sustainability indicators. A paradigm of clean behavior and innovative culture is the new
face of contemporary society.
The SMEs enjoy in that scenario opportunities for growing in new markets because are
characterized by:
 Flexible adaptation to a sustainable management model;
 Management structures of low complexity level;
 Open space for innovation;
 Agility due to lower structural complexity.
In Brazil, small and micro businesses (SMEs or MPEs) are conceptualized as follows:
 Micro-enterprise (MEs): annual gross income equal to or less than BRL 360.000
(approximately EUR 140.000). Individual entrepreneurs are also defined as microenterprises;
 Small Business (EPPs): annual gross income exceeding BRL 360.000 and equal to
or less than BRL 3.600.000 (about EUR 1.400.000).
On the opposite side, it is also clear that small businesses, as already commented above,
are clearly in an unprivileged position if compared to larger companies (in terms of
viability of credit, monetary power, access to technology, for instance). One of the
national government efforts to foment SMEs in Brazil is towards legislative benefits and
10
incentives. The purpose is to reduce bureaucracy (simpler opening procedure and easier
taxes’ collection); increase opportunities; facilitate access to credit and technology; and
incentive exportation (through taxation policies).
I.3. Aims and Attempts:
The sections above have emphasized some of the main features related to small
businesses as well as strengths and weaknesses associated to smallness philosophy when
applied to the corporative optics.
Gaining of intimacy, manageability and agility in companies’ structures is a highlighting
strategic path in small enterprises. It is also true that small businesses are currently of big
importance to the overall economy in practically all countries, being beneficial for society
in terms of employment, opportunities generation and as source of innovation. Following
that perspective, ‘Small’ can be undoubtedly judged beautiful.
On the other hand, problematic associated with access to financing, credit obtaining,
acquiring capacity building; constructing solid knowhow to survive in the competitive
market; providing sustainable products and services; access to strategic consulting; and
reduced training and knowledge support are some of the concerns unavoidably glanced
by small entrepreneurs.
The crucial point is that “small is beautiful” when symbiotically connected to a sustainable
business model and staffed by a powerful plan of actions.
Throughout the Extractive Industry it is possible to notice Small Mining businesses as
remarkable players.
Following the general trend of SMEs, small mineral enterprises provide innumerable
socioeconomic benefits to local inhabitants (e.g.: employment) and revenues which
contribute positively to mineral export bases and foreign exchange earnings of a good
number of countries.
In spite of the cited positive impacts, small-scale mining is in many cases linked to
rudimentary techniques and old-fashioned managerial practices. Moreover, unsafe
11
processes, land degradation and significant pollution are some of the drawbacks often
mentioned as consequences of small operations.
Within a framework of positive and negative impacts, it is important to underline the
indispensable role of small-scale operations to the global panorama of mining industry,
not only in the developing world, but also in the other regions of the planet.
Therefore, overestimating large-scale and multinational mineral companies’ contribution
and simultaneously neglecting the role of small and localized mining enterprises and
initiatives is far from being clever and is clearly unhealthful socially, economically and
environmentally.
Parting from the premises previously commented, the present Master’s Thesis aims to
approach
the
complex
theme
of
Small-Scale
Mining,
emphasizing
the
Ornamental/Dimensional Stones extractive industry in an attempt to:
 Acquire fruitful and rich knowledge about Small-Scale Mining;
 Generally describe Small Mining and main characteristics/challenges associated to
it;
 Raise a diagnostic of problems and realities in the small-scale extractive industry
operations: lacks, absences and needs;
 Confront different realities of Small Mining in the world- potentials, lacks and
problems:
 Developed realities; European/Italian context and industrialized examples;
 Developing realities; Artisanal and other impacting realities.
 Proceed case-studies in small realities- Italian dimensional stones quarries:
technical, socio-environmental and economic assessment;
 Purpose a list of best practices for small enterprises, including:
 Capacity building principles;
 Successful models to replicate;
 Unsustainable practices and processes to be avoided;
 Recommended techniques and improvements;
 Indicators to be used;
 Suggested responsible, sustainable and innovative manners;
12
 Possible plan of actions and management framework.
Figure 4: Planned work, aims and attempts of this Master’s Thesis.
From the lessons learnt, the cases studied and the know-how accumulated, the ultimate
goal would be that of developing a general sustainable model for a small-scale mining
business.
In order to be called a sustainable model, the purposed one should thereby encompass
the three equally important components related to Sustainable Development and
Sustainability- Economic, Social and Environmental issues- in a global suitable approach.
Figure 5: Key-Concepts related to a Sustainable Model.
13
CHAPTER 2: SMALL MINING
II.1. Generalities:
As mentioned in Chapter 1, Small Mining is simultaneously associated with
socioeconomic benefits (especially income generation, employment in rural zones and
positive contribution to mineral export base of many countries) and also with several
socio-environmental drawbacks (the case of pollutants, emissions, land degradation,
unsafe practices often found as a result of its operations and other complications related
to the often rudimentary nature of their activities).
In spite of the recent significant progress in the application of sustainability principles in
the Extractive Industry- particularly in the case of big enterprises and companies
activating in innovative fields- finding ways to share the felt progress with more
traditional small and medium-sized mining and quarrying enterprises (SMEs) and
supporting them to implement good practices at their operations is still a challenge.
According to Shields et. al. [6], extractive SMEs do not often see the value or business
advantage in pursuing sustainability. It is also true that they sometimes lack the financial
and human resources to assign an employee to such a task and might not be able to figure
out the necessary changes to be applied.
Historically, there is evidence of small-scale mining for more than two millenniums.
Ancient civilizations as Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and pre-colonial African groups are
said to have been involved in artisanal mineral extraction and the minerals exploitation is
accounted as one of their factors of prosperity and strength.
Indeed, small-scale mining is not a recent phenomenon but a universal reflex, which has
shown up in all five continents and in different countries such as Canada, Colombia,
Chile, China, Bolivia, Brazil, England, Peru and Spain. As a consequence of its
socioeconomic worldwide relevance, important attention and focus has been given by the
United Nations Organization and other institutions as the World Bank to Small Mining theme
and a set of national, bi-national, regional and international meetings and conferences
have been carried out in the recent decades to discuss and spot crucial questions.
14
‘Small-scale mining’ as a term firstly appeared in 1972 in the United Nations(UN)
publication Small-Scale Mining in the Developing Countries [7], which accented for the first
time the economic significance of small-scale mining in developing countries and
underscored the need for easing the conceptualization and implementation of policies and
laws especially to attend the sector’s particularities.
Inserted in the developing countries’ realities, mining SMEs are commonly referred as
Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM), encompassing thus low tech and labour
intensive mineral processing and excavation activities.
Throughout the late-1970’s and 1980’s, ASM has been resonated as populated by
businessmen looking to make money and then has often been associated with
entrepreneurship and self-motivated enterprises that generally did not have government
encouragement and assistance. Therewithal artisanal mining has insistently been
connected to manifestation of indigenous entrepreneurship.
Consequently, there has always been a claim for improved productivity and efficiency in
the activities of those entrepreneurs through suggested optimized equipment and other
technical progresses. Albeit the efforts to detail equipments and techniques present in
ASM operations, few has been done in literature to light the field’s complexities and
organizational dynamics. To quote an important example, in Sub-Saharan Africa, ASM
has suffered a substantial growth in the 1990’s, providing, however, employment to
groups of women and children and has been thus linked to people’s hardship.
Nowadays small-scale mining is present primarily within rural zones of the developing
world and is frequently characterized as a ‘subsistence industry’, there being big part of
the people involved attempting to escape poverty [8]. In those countries, Small-Scale
Mining is one of the most refreshing economic opportunities and sometimes entire
families are employed in a certain extractive region.
A relevant complexity when analyzing small-scale extractive business resides in defining
the term ‘Small-Scale Mining’. Many attempts have been made to define the concept in an
international context. The criteria used as basis of most classifications are (among others):
 Mine output;
 Labour productivity;
15
 Organization of the enterprise;
 Levels of technology.
However, academics when analyzing regional industrial activities have found expressive
controversy over a possible definition for the term. Governments, in contrast, have
compounded the problem as most of the countries have purposed separate definitions in
intent to include Small-Scale Mining in national policies.
In Latin America, for example, some countries suggested a system of stratification for
mining activity [9] based on criteria like the volume of production, the amount of capital
invested and the number of worker involved in mineral extraction. This stratification,
although never actually applied, resulted in the division of the extractive industry into
small-, medium- and large-sized mining and therefore directed governmental plans and
policies related to the separate promotion of small and medium-scale mining and the
investment in large projects, without any integrated program between them.
In that sense, Latin-American policies were not efficient in a way to evolve and attract
investment capital to promote the use of technology, especially in small-scale operations.
Hence a proliferation of forms of production of very poor technical quality, with
insufficient legal and financial tools and a lack of systematic integration and management
has been observed.
Although a few definitions have been raised, ‘Small-Scale Mining’ is today comprehended
as an all-encompassing label for the non-mechanized, labour intensive activities of the
mining sector. The peculiarity linked to the term is the uniqueness of its operations and
management techniques. Differently from large-scale extractive companies, which usually
feature state-of-the-art machinery and skilled-workers, small-scale ones are often
characterized by rudimentary design features and highly manual processes. Furthermore,
‘Small-Scale Mining’ frequently encounters problems related to lack of capacity in terms
of technical, social and also political skills.
Mining on small-scale is a sporadic producer of limited amounts of mineral from deposits
with few known reserves. If confronted to large-scale mining, requirements in terms of
implementation time and initial investment are extremely low and employment per-unit
output is high, as a consequence of the shortage of adequate machinery that leads to
16
heavy dependence on manual labour. Actually in some cases technology is restricted to
the basic shovel and pick.
As it is shown in Figure 6, small-scale mining is characterized by limited figures in terms
of reserves, time, capital, skills, infrastructure, but intensive use of labour. On the other
side, large-scale mining is associated to significant assets, capacity, skills and
infrastructure, as well as expressive reserves and long term operations and less intensive
workforce use (higher standard of technology application).
Figure 6: Small- vs. large scale-mining comparative profiles. Source: extracted from HILSON,G.M.. The future of
small-scale mining: environmental and socioeconomic perspectives. Environmental Policy and Management
Group(EPMG)-Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. Royal School of Mines, Prince
Council of Road, London, UK, 2002.
Small-scale mining is markedly pronounced where mineralization occurs near the surface
or within unconsolidated rocks in the case of precious metals.
Particularly spread throughout developing countries- although also in European and
North American zones- important locations of small-scale mining operations are Asia,
17
Africa and Latin America, experiencing diversities in accordance with the mineral
produced and socio, economic and political particular contexts.
‘Small Mining’ regards the extraction of over 40 types of minerals, including:
 Precious and semi-precious minerals: gold and gemstones are by far the most
economically important minerals mined due to their high value per unit weight;
 Heavy and industrial minerals;
 Construction materials;
 Dimensional stones.
Excepted from the list of small-scale activities are usually a part of the base and industrial
minerals (copper, iron ore, lead, zinc, manganese and nickel), since they need economies
of scale to their competitive production. On the other hand, in Europe for instance,
industrial minerals such as andalusite, bentonite, borates, calcium carbonate, cristobalite,
diatomite, dolomite, feldspar, kaolin, kaolinitic clays, lime, mica, quarz, sepiolite, talc,
vermiculite and wollastonite are mainly composed of small and medium-sized companies.
Figure 7: Locations of important small-scale mining regions. Source: extracted from HILSON,G.M.. The future of
small-scale mining: environmental and socioeconomic perspectives. Environmental Policy and Management
Group(EPMG)-Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. Royal School of Mines, Prince
Council of Road, London, UK, 2002.
18
II.2. Conceptualization & Description:
“Broadly speaking, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) refers to mining by individuals,
groups, families or cooperatives with minimal or no mechanization, often in the informal
(illegal) sector of the market”[12]. A distinction has been sometimes made between
‘Artisanal Mining’-purely manual on a very small scale- and ‘Small-Scale mining’-more
mechanized and on a larger scale. In a few West African countries (Mali and Niger, for
instance), Small-Scale Mining is differentiated from artisanal mining by the presence of
permanent, fixed installations set once proved ore body reserves exist. Moreover, while
Artisanal mining generally focuses on making livelihood from mineral extraction, SmallScale Mining focuses more on investment and profits- if miners do not belong (or do not
have close links) to local community, the operation is occasionally called a small
conventional mine and not artisanal mining.
The presence of small-scale extractive operations is in general stronger in developing
countries than in developed ones as a result of economic and historic factors [9]. The
industrial revolution was the stimulus for today’s large-scale mining as small mines
gradually expanded along with the increasing global demand for raw materials.
Existent mining production was, by the way, neither enough, nor sufficiently flexible to
deal with this exploding demand, considering their specific features, size and metallurgical
problems and limited deposits. A search for new deposits was undoubtedly needed and,
together with new findings, new engineering ideas were applied to optimize production
and reduce costs, and geology developed as a fundamental subject- being environmental
deliberations usually neglected.
Following up the apparition of mining operations of increasing size, new mines (also
small- and medium-size ones) continued to open, develop and operate. Many of those
mines improved technically with new tools and expanded, in particular in the
industrialized countries, where the accelerate development of the market raised the
demand on mineral production and engendered a quantitative and qualitative changerelegating, in the meantime, small-scale mines to a secondary level due to cost
management and economy of scale means.
19
On the other hand, in sub-developed, developing countries and ex-colonies/colonies, the
restricted domestic market did not permit large-scale development of mining and local
demands could almost always be met by modest local and small operations, while largescale mines turned to perform an exporting role.
Considering the above expressed, in some Europeans countries and in North America,
mining production were expanding in number and size of operations, volumes of
production and degree of mechanization, allowing therefore the evolution of large-scale
mines. In contrast, in many countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America, the development
of mining industry was based on the intense use of cheap manpower or even slaves and,
therefore, small-size based. In South America, for example, investments, as a consequence
of the low level of finance and technology, focused on exploring known existent deposits,
increasing yet the number of small-scale operations, many of them illegal and without
proper private or State ‘s control.
Along the years, attempts to define Small-Scale Mining in quantitative terms- of volume
of the operation- have been common. To establish though an impartial notion of
concepts and emphasize potentialities and drawbacks of the sector, it is recommendable
to look at it through an optic able to strength also business and management structure.
The aspects associated with Small Mining include, thus, for instance (characteristics often
found in developing contexts):
 Informality and illegality;
 Environmental degradation;
 Socio-cultural conflicts;
 Technical and legal problems;
 Sometimes non-productive artisanal developments;
 Lack of necessary State action in order to achieve appropriate results.
The counterpart to balance the downsides would highlight the demand for:
 Institutional support;
 Reinforcement of civic education for personnel engaged in mining operations;
20
 Training in spheres like income distribution, social investment and fiscal discipline,
aiming to soften poverty as well as strength development and peaceful processes.
Figure 8: Typical problems of artisanal and Small-Scale Mining(ASM). Source: extracted from HENTSCHEL, T.
et al. Global Report on Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining, Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development
(MMSD)- International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK, January 2002.
The essential characteristic of what is named ‘Small-Scale Mining’ or ASM (‘Artisanal and
Small-Scale Mining’) is the complexity of defining it according to any universal parameter
[9], having a common definition yet to be established. One of the roads to define the
‘Small Mining’ is by its geographical distribution, national legislation and mining policy
implementation, among other characteristics.
21
In an attempt to define ‘Small-Scale Mining’, different sort of efforts have been emerged
all around the world, using diverse criteria, such as the listed below:
 Production volume (e.g.: Colombia);
 Intensity (volume) of capital invested (e.g.: Argentina and Thailand);
 Number of workers involved (e.g.: Chile, Pakistan and the United States);
 Granting of mining title or ownership (e.g.: Ghana, Zambia and Zimbabwe);
 Volume of production according to the tonnage produced underground or at the
surface (e.g.: Colombia);
 Classification as artisanal or with degrees of mechanization;
 Number of persons per production unit;
 Labour productivity;
 Size of mine claim;
 Quantity of reserves;
 Sales volume;
 Operational continuity;
 Operational reliability;
 Duration of the mining cycle.
As a matter of fact, each of the criteria above cited have its own advantages and
disadvantages, depending on the country, the type of mining, the minerals produced, the
number of miners and the political conditions, to name some issues but not all.
Therefore, the definitions for ‘Small-Scale Mining’ vary from country to country,
according to the macroeconomic situation, the geological framework, the mining history
and the legal conditions [12].
Notwithstanding, the simultaneous use of more than one criterion is also possible and
they do not condition their application to the existence of specific mining law for small
mining activities. Indeed, there are countries devoid of specific laws for small-scale
mining, while there are others which have approved special laws that apply different
treatment to Small Mining (the case of Brazil and its “Garimpo” or “Garimpogen” law).
22
Even if there are many tendencies for classifying ‘Small-Scale Mining’, the International
Labour Organization (ILO) from United Nations (UN) [9] spotted the main features
commonly associated with Small Mining (Table 2). Operations characterized by aspects
such as high level of technological use and large scale of investment (also foreign
financing) are typically excluded from the category of ‘Small-Scale Mining’, although they
can cover a low surface area. In other words, in spite of many socioeconomic benefits
linked to small mining, its associations with a few restrictions and lacks is clear.
Table 2: Small-scale mining features. Source:
extracted from AVILA, E.C. Small-scale mining: a new
entrepreneur approach, Naciones Unidas, Cepal: Natural Resources and Infrastructure Division, Santiago, Chile,
August 2003.
In addition, Small-Scale Mining is traditionally featured by a certain lack of organization
and weak business management. However, there is no currently official classification or
23
legislation describing small-scale mines in terms of business development performances
(including level of coverage of social security systems among the workers, the number of
work contracts signed and the degree of tax compliance among the mining operators and
other parties concerned).
The same ILO came out with an additional sub divisional classification based on the
intrinsic characteristic of small-scale mines:
Table 3: Sub division- small-scale mining. Source: adapted from AVILA, E.C. Small-scale mining: a new
entrepreneur approach, Naciones Unidas, Cepal: Natural Resources and Infrastructure Division, Santiago, Chile,
August 2003.
The European Space Agency (ESA)[15]has provided a possible definition of ‘Small-Scale
Mining’, based on production volume, investments, number of employees and lifetime
(Table 4):
24
SMALL-SCALE MINING: EESA DEFINITION
Through
Put
Total
investment(US$)
< 200 ton/day < 1,0 MI
Added value(US$)
< 1,5 MI
Number of workers Lifetime
< 40
< 5 years
Table 4: Small-Scale Mining definition. Source: European Space Agency.
When analysed from an economic standpoint, it is possible to notice the fragility of SmallScale Mining operations related to the vagaries of the market- prices are varying according
to supply and demand of products. Those fluctuations in prices and structural instabilities
are peculiar to mining and metal markets, pushing producers to control costs and invest
in managerial strategies to keep in the market. Small-scale businesses are yet usually not
possessors of a solid management skeleton and cannot make economies of scale. Thus, as
a consequence of market failures tend to suffer unmanageable losses; close down formal
operations; reduce investments; and dismiss workers. The result is not only economic
drawbacks to their respective geographic zones, but sometimes also social problems as
some of those faired workers are willing to make subsistence income from these
abandoned deposits- with scarce formal knowledge and insufficient money.
Notwithstanding, similarly to what has already been described about SMEs, small-scale
extractive industry is subject to difficulties in obtaining additional financial resources
because of: lack of real guarantees for credit; lack of mining rights; and uncertain
potentialities of deposits. The low level of knowledge associated to that sort of mineral
business means that financial operators are apprehensive of investing.
Moreover, the insignificant acquaintance about basic procedures for obtaining formal
credit, the consequent petition to non-bank credit and low liquidity of small mining
enterprises produce a vicious circle and reinforce the complicated process of obtaining
financial resources.
Through the environmental perspective, some of the most serious issues related to SmallScale Mining is related to its relationship with the around nature. The usual lack of deeper
knowledge and skills to develop more sustainable practices to their operations result in
several impacts.
25
The mercury pollution, for instance, in Africa, Latin America and Asian nations
presenting abundant small-scale gold enterprises is one of the most significant issues
globally noticed. Operations have continually reported contamination complications
produced by the mineral processing agent, used in the amalgamation process in order to
turn the gold-aggregated sediment into a past amalgam, after burned in the open air to
obtain the final gold product. Released in the environment, inorganic mercury is
transformed into toxic methyl mercury, hazardous both to human health and the
fauna/flora in general.
Inextricably connected to environment and health issues are diseases in small-scale
mining industry regions. Design problems, low awareness and feature inherently unsafe
operations engender propitious hotspots for infectious diseases. Malaria and AIDS are
some of the maladies sometimes found in intensive laboured small-scale zones, especially
in tropical developing regions (Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, for example).
Another serious problem associated to small-scale mining is land degradation. The
operations in the sector are characterized by migratory fluxes, as they require continuous
pitting and trenching to explore new outcropping deposits found. Still, as perspective
geological deposits are fixed, mass tracts of forest are often removed and rivers are
diverged in the intent to search for ore. Regarding land use, most of the land excavated is
not properly reclaimed and ‘potholed’ landscapes are sometimes left as a sub product of
the mining activities. Land use competition is yet a reality in places such as Western Africa
and historical events such as gold rushes have occasioned vast vegetation removal.
Clear is also that in many zones of the globe, particularly in developing regions, SmallScale mining, since the 1980’s and 1990’s has expanded in an anarchic way and related
impacts have been poorly and inefficiently controlled by competent governments and
institutions. The existing initiatives to organize the Small-Scale Extractive Industry were
usually in the sense of improving operational efficiency and not environmentally aimed.
Efforts were usually to legalize SMEs through licensing, to incorporate key issues in
national mineral policies (e.g. Indonesia and Zimbabwe) or to pass specific Small-Scale
Mining legislation (case of Brazil). Attempts to develop Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA) procedures specifically for Small-Scale Mining, auditing and
monitoring initiatives can be cited as worthy. However, the proposed strategies to
26
improve environmental management of mining SMEs have been in an overall perspective
insufficient.
According to the Small-Scale Mining features above stressed, considering the fact that
mining SMEs are increasing in both number and size throughout the world and has
proven to be indispensable, it is an imperative for governments to take the sector’s needs
into consideration in a way to elaborate and implement socio-economic and
environmental policies to improve social quality of life and labour conditions in the
interest zone- hence generating a healthy and more sustainable work, living and producing
space for local communities. The efforts towards Small-Scale Mining must be made to
maximize the benefits brought by the activity and to mitigate the costs.
A valuable example of initiative addressed to Small-Scale Mining strategic management
and economic-environmental improvement is the reclamation bond, which helps to
facilitate the reclamation of disturbed landscapes even in cases of governmental budgetary
constraints. The idea is to obtain commissions from mineral sales from miners and keep
them in a fund used, in turn, to finance reclamation efforts.
Whether governments endeavor to regularize and better organize Small-Scale Mining
operations, along with the rising number of Small-Scale Mining operations, increasing
contribution to balance of trade will be achieved, earnings will tend to rise and it will likely
continue to provide economic opportunities to drifters, nomads, redundant labourers,
migratory workers and resident families.
II.3. Facts, Figures and Sizes:
Attempts to define ‘Small-Scale Mining’ have been made since the 1970’s. Important is to
emphasize that the concept of “Small” varies according to regional context and is often
misleadingly when applied to some small but high-tech industrial mining operations [10].
In fact, the term ‘Artisanal Mining’ helped in clarifying a bit the discussion involving
Small-Scale Mining operations and refers to low-tech, low-mechanized mining operations
with predominantly manual (artisanal) work.
27
On the other hand, ‘Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining’ (ASM) is a broader term and
encompasses all lower segments of mining (non-mechanized and mechanized) that are
not conventional, industrial mining operations [10]. Although the description supports a
better understanding on the area, it is far from being a definition.
As mentioned in the sections II.2 and II.3, efforts have been made to raise agreed
universal parameters to define ASM, such as capacity; number of miners; type of mineral
deposit; size of reserves; technology; level of investment; income; capitalization; energy
consumption, to name some but not all.
Nevertheless, none of the initiatives to attribute a broad and universal definition to ASM
has succeeded. Definitions while too general do not capture the actual nature of ASM and
if too specific do not cover all possible variants of the economic sector. The main reason
for that difficulty to raise a proper definition for ‘Small-Scale Mining’ is that its operations
develop in a variety of socio-economic and cultural contexts. Consequently, empirical
data, actual observation and practical understanding of ‘Small Mining’ is fundamental,
being maybe more important than academic definitions.
The ‘Small-Scale Mining’ or ASM produces typically two kinds of commodities (see also
Table 3):
I) High-unit value minerals (e.g. gold) and precious stones (e.g. diamonds and
colored gemstones), as well as higher priced bulk ore and other industrial minerals
(e.g. tin, chrome, coltan, barite, fluorspar, etc.) designated mainly for exportation;
II) Low-price bulk material (e.g. coal), certain industrial minerals and construction
materials for local markets;
ASM of category II above explicit (or ‘Second Class’)- oriented towards local marketsmakes small quarries, sand and gravel pits, and brick makers omnipresent, with operations
found all over the world, sometimes being of more interest and more intensively studied
by the construction sector rather than by mining literature. The relative low-price and
really geographically abundant bulk material extracted usually means neglecting and small
interest by the public sphere, resulting in supporting problems for many of the quarries
and limited references or studies in the international literature.
28
In contrast, the ASM of category I mentioned (or ‘First Class’) comprehend high-unit
value products (e.g. ASM gold mining or ASGM), attracting thus a significant attention of
the public institutes and concerning important reputation related to public opinion, being
a notably “visible” mining sector and more broadly approached by international literature.
Therefore, most of the definitions and academic studies are referred to this second
category of Small-Scale Mining, including most of the concepts discussed along this
thesis. Geologically, ASM of gold and precious stones comprehend two types of deposits:
 Primary deposits: geologic hard rock deposits containing the mineral (e.g. vein
type deposits);
 Placer deposits: alluvial, elluvial or colluvial formations, created by erosion and
sedimentation (e.g. gold bearing river beds).
Those deposits must generally be superficially located and relatively high grade ore
become feasible and accessible for small-scale mining. If deposits are large difficulties can
arise or if low-grade require heavy earth-moving equipment and high amounts of invested
capital, resulting of limited interest to small miners. Generally, in legislation, those
minerals mix characteristics of open access resources and common pool resources. Being
in their majority easily accessible on the surface and allowing artisanal miners to usually
skip the phase of explorations, beginning directly from the extraction phase. As common
pool resources, it is complex to exclude any individual of exploring them, facing therefore
problems of overuse and congestions, and too many actors involved.
Furthermore, ASM, particularly of ‘First Class’, is often related to reprocessing of
abandoned tailings and dumps of the extraction of old and abandoned industrial mine
sites, and artisanal miners may continue to work even decades after the closure of largescale mines. Indeed, many artisanal miners are ex-mine workers who turn themselves to
Small-Scale Mining operations after mine closures in such a way to make from it a
livelihood.
Socially speaking, Small-Scale Mining represents in many cases an opportunity for families
to achieve subsistence and for people to improve their individual economic situation. In
sub-developed and developing zones, ASM is rather a poverty driven and poverty
alleviating activity, encompassing economically weak and vulnerable rural and urban
29
populations looking for economic stability and live care means, and even displaced
population subjected to social conflicts (economic hardships and natural disaster, for
instance).
An essential distinction to make is that Small Mining is about ‘small-scale’ and not about
‘small-number’ mining. That means that ASM can refer to individual miners, partnership
of dozen of miners or even large cooperatives of entire communities involving also
thousands of miners, since the operations are small-size ones. Obviously, the mining area
size varies according to the number of mines.
According to Weber-Fahr et. al. (2002) [11], four types of ASM can be identified:
I)
Permanent artisanal mining: Full time, year round activity. Mining is frequently
the only economic activity (e.g. some dimension stones quarries in Italy) and is
sometimes accompanied by other activities like farming, herding, commerce,
tourism or other extractive tasks;
II)
Seasonal artisanal mining: Seasonal altering of activities or seasonal migration
of people into artisanal mining areas during idle agricultural periods to
supplement their income and guarantee livelihood;
III)
Rush-type artisanal mining: Massive migration based on the perception that the
expected income opportunity from recently discovered deposits far exceeds the
current actual income of the people involved. Linked to rising price of
minerals.
IV)
Shock-push artisanal mining: A poverty driven activity emerging after recent
loss of employment in other sectors, conflicts or natural disasters.
Regarding the origin of the population involved in the operation, community-based
mining or ‘Community Mining’ is the expression used to refer to permanent and seasonal
ASM (types I and II above described) carried out by the local population, constructing
their own livelihood strategy base on the mineral resources within their communal
territory. Rush-type and stock-push ASM have, on their turn, the potential to convert
temporary miners into settles and new communities finally converted to community
mining.
30
At operational and organizational level, it is common to define personnel functional
structures called group sizes [10]. In the case of gold mining, at operational level, the work
groups can encompass about 4-10 individuals, sometimes in family units, to share tasks at
one single point of mineral extraction and, at organizational level, groups of around or
over 100 miners are found, extracting jointly one mineral deposit and sometimes even
sharing processing infrastructures. More rare and prices-related but also know mine cases
are those with concentrations of up to a few thousands artisanal miners in a single zone.
Overwhelming examples are the 200 km 2 Galagan area in Indonesia and the famous gold
rush of Serra Pelada in Brazil, which involved up to 100000 people during the 1980’s.
Generically, while the operational organization of small-scale artisanal miners can be seen
as “autonomous” individual small workgroups or production partnerships, where
entrepreneurship is through the individual level and self-employment/self-exploitation are
engaged to earn a living, industrial mining (also small-sized one) is somehow planned,
directed centrally and profit driven.
Small-Scale Mining comprehends the whole product chain: prospecting, extraction,
processing and marketing. Tasks and functions are separated and specialization is related
to mining support services along the production chain. Mineral sorting and processing,
transport, provision of water and food, and other activities are support tasks (sometimes
carried out by women or children). Artisanal Mining often have familiar paths, involving
the whole family in the productive processes.
Concerning the legal sphere, minerals law are in general thought for industrialized mining,
in order to promote investments and provide tax revenues to governments. As a
consequence, mining companies- usually large-size and multinational- operate under
technically qualified supervision and have access to means of financing. In contrast,
artisanal and small-scale mining are frequently not capable of meeting legal requirements
and regulation norms imposed to larger mining companies and are hence sometimes
bound to informal or illegal operations. Though it is not rule that ASM is informal and it
can rather be a formal and legal activity, creating jobs and opportunity to mitigate poverty.
In fact, legal frameworks in national contexts usually demand from a mining operation
requirements such as:
31
 The possession of a mining title (concession, claim, etc) or a valid contract with a
concession holder;
 The compliance of environmental legislation;
 The possession of an operational license;
 The registration of the company in the mining or local authorities;
 The payment of taxes (royalties, company taxes…);
 The legal exportation of the products (report license, export taxes…);
 Staff’s enrollment at the national social security system.
Small-scale miners in many cases find it difficult to fulfill the above mentioned
requirements. Lacking the knowledge of the proper legal requirements, having limited
access to mining titles and having little governmental incentives to operate legally and not
being properly fiscally supervised or find bureaucracy to become and remain formal
operations, a vicious cycle of information can be engendered as a sub-product of these
burdens (see Figure 9).
Figure 9: ASM Vicious Cycle of Informality. Source: extracted from HENTSCHEL, T. et al. Global Report on
Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining, Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD)- International Institute
for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK, January 2002.
32
Figure 10: ASM Vicious Cycle of Informality. Source: extracted from HENTSCHEL, T. et al. Global Report on
Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining, Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD)- International Institute
for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK, January 2002.
By way of example, the Figure 10 shown above emphasizes essential factors influencing
formality in Small-Scale Mining activities.
In terms of mining and processing techniques, Small-Scale Mining encompasses the use
of diverse machines and suitable tools, from pre-historic stone mills, ingenious preindustrial machinery to creative adaptations of currently available technology [9].
Designating these techniques as ‘obsolete’ or ‘excessively simple’ is not fair at all, seen
that they can represent the optimum cost ones at their scale of operation and considering
limited financial resources and skills.
Currently there are about 70 countries with reported ASM activities, among them some
important mineral producers where Small-Scale Mining contributes to a meaningful share
to the national mineral production [9]. ASM is widespread mainly for easily marketable
33
(high-unit value) minerals- gold, diamonds, gemstones and coloured stones-, but an
expressive range of raw materials is produced by Small-Scale Mining (including bauxite,
iron ore, silver, tin, zinc, marble, limestone and other construction minerals).
Despite the difficulties to estimate overall ASM production, including lack of statistics
and informal nature of plenty operations, in 2002, the following figures were estimated
[13]:
 In recent years, Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining accounted for approximately
15% to 20% of world’s non fuel mineral production;
 Up to 12% of metallic minerals production came from small-scale operations
 Up to 31% of industrial minerals production were attributed to ASM;
 Up to 20% of coal production was due to ASM;
 Up to 75% of gemstones production and 10% of diamonds production came
from ASM operations;
 Annual global gold supply from Small-Scale Mining was estimated around 200 to
300 tons.
Small-Scale Mining takes place throughout the world, but it is particularly widespread in
developing countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania, Central and South America. Some relevant
examples of countries with expressive ASM activities are: Ghana, China, India, South
Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, Papa New Guinea, Philippines, Central
African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Niger,
Sierra Leone, Uganda, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Chile, Colombia,
Dominican Republic, French Guyana, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Surinam, Venezuela,
Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru.
According to the International Labour Organization (ILO):
 Around 13 million people are globally engaged directly in Small-Scale Mining
activities, mainly in developing countries;
 The livelihood of a further 80-100 million people are affected directly or indirectly
by Small-Scale Mining operations;
34
 Out of 35 developing countries surveyed in Africa, Asia and Latin America, since
1993, small-scale production has increased in 21 by an average of 10-20%;
 Some countries have experienced overwhelming increases in production. Ghana,
for example, has experienced more than 500% increase in small-scale gold mine
production since 1989, when the sector had been officially legalized;
 Mineral commodities prices have increased sharply during the last decades (e.g.
gold was 300 USD/oz at the end of the 1990’s and around 1400 USD/oz by
2010), affecting the number of people involved in Small-Scale Mining;
 Nowadays, a plausible extrapolation is that about 25 million artisanal miners and
150-170 million people are involved in the ASM activities, considering that in
many countries the number of artisanal miners has multiplied between 2005 and
2010;
 ASM provides most of the world’s coloured stones and 40% of diamonds from
Africa;
 As many as 650.000 women in 12 of the world’s poorest countries are engaged in
Artisanal Mining;
 Between 1 and 1,5 million children under the age of 18 years old are involved in
Small-Scale Mining;
 In Brazil and China, the Small-Scale Mining employment is in the millions;
 In China, for instance, the number of people involved in ASM activities is
estimated to be around 3 and 15 million, mainly employed in coal and
construction materials mining;
 In 2003 and 2005, a number around 30 million artisanal miners and 15 million
artisanal gold miners were said to be a realistic estimative for the sector;
The numbers shown in Table 4 were estimated in the countries researched by the ILO
[12] for people employment and number of mines by country for ASM sector. Analysing
the provided data and comparing it to the total population in each country studied, it is
possible to verify that Bolivia, Ghana, Mali, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are among the
countries were Small-Scale Mining is more relevant socially and economically.
35
Table 4: Small-Scale Mining employment by country. Source: extracted from HENTSCHEL, T. et al. Global
Report on Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining, Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD)International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK, January 2002.
The majority of the contingent employed in small-scale mining is related to gold and
precious stone extractions. However, a notable percentage is involved in the mining of a
wide range of industrial minerals, such as coal (e.g. China), copper (e.g. Chile) and Zambia
(e.g. dimension stones). Occupations are diverse, varying from simple sediment
transportation tasks to complicated mercury processing duties. In operations where entire
families are working, men are typically engaged in heavy lifting and strenuous activities,
while women perform ore panning and “sorting”, for example and children serve as
couriers, transporting goods and ore from one area of a site to another [8].
Increased regularization and legalization has markedly been responsible for the growing
production achieved in the Small-Scale Mining industry in recent years. Small-Scale
Mining was in the part perceived as informal and was not internationally recognized as an
industry. Nevertheless, many governments have realized the potential of the industry and
started to elaborate regulations and registration systems in an attempt to fully legalize
36
activities and, therefore, all parts involved have benefited from these initiatives- miners
can then operate without fear of being prosecuted and gather real prices for their product
and governments can help boosting national revenues and production.
Figure 11: Mapping ASM around the world. Source: extracted from CARTER, A.S. Progress Report: Artisanal
and Small-Scale Mining over the last 10 years.
It is important also to emphasize that Small-Scale Mining impacts the economy not only
in the macroeconomic ambit, but also in the microeconomic one. According to the United
Nations, at a macroeconomic level, relevant is the impact of ASM to income generation
and employment creation especially in the rural zones and, moreover, its potential to
catalyze SME development and to faster local economic multipliers and micro-economic
cluster formation [14].
The central idea is that Small-Scale Mining can represent important source of jobs for
workers, families and communities, being the income generated substantial for further
economic development, stimulating the growth of SMEs that supply miners and their
families and playing a major monetary role in communities by putting money directly into
37
the local economy. The monetary impact is likely to be traduced by investments in
improving livelihoods and infrastructure (machinery provided is mostly local or national
and services provided are usually local) and financial capital circulating within the
community.
The revenues generated by ASM upstream and downstream processes contribute to rise
local purchasing power and foment production of local goods and services, required for
mining activities- such as tools, equipments, infrastructure- and to day-to-day livingincluding housing, food and other catering, as well as engendering trade chains and
taxes/royalties.
The macroeconomic contribute of Small-Scale Mining is evidently the significant benefits
to national economy and balance of trade- creating a trade surplus, as exportations are
considerably overcome by importations. In Indonesia, for example, total production of
tin by small-scale operations is equal to that of large-scale sector.
“In some cases, artisanal mining has been well established for many decades, taking place
in an ordered manner, and providing reliable cash incomes”. [14] Small Mining operations
have occasionally a semi-industrial or fully industrial facet where the degree of
mechanization, internal organization and compliance with international industrial
standards is advanced. These sorts of operations are mostly often financed and managed
by partners from industrialized countries [13]. These positive and valuable realities of
niche products, on small and high-grade mineral deposits, demanding thus complicated
exploitation or concentration techniques, and in nations with a positive investment
climate, are worth examples for the artisanal and small-scale community.
In the next chapters, special focus will be given to Small-Scale Mining owning semiindustrialized and industrialized patterns. Particular highlights will be put on organized
manifestations of ASM businesses, aiming to analyse positively impacting realities of
small-scale enterprises, especially in developed countries and regions.
Significant attention and special interest will be designed to Dimension stones quarries
and their impact and relevance within Italian contexts.
38
ARTISANAL AND SMALL-SCALE MINING: COSTS X
BENEFITS
COSTS (-)
BENEFITS (+)
Geologic- Mining Costs
Geologic- Mining Benefits
Exploration of a non-renewable resource
Losses e.g.:
Possibility of exploiting smaller deposits
ASM achieves successful prospecting without
high cost
Irrational working of high grade material Working of abandoned pillars, tailings, etc.
Small-scale miners discover important deposits
Incomplete exploitation
in remote areas
Processing methods
Transport
Effects on the Environment
Environmental risks, emissions and damage to: earth,
soil, water (underground and surface), air, flora and
fauna, energy sources, ecosystems
Social Costs
Social Benefits
Precarious working conditions
Negative health consequences (health, accidents)
Complicated dependency relations
Violation of resident and indigenous community rights
Change in the system of ethical values
Insufficient social security
Child Labour
Sometimes infra-human living conditions
Labour qualification
Source of income (in money)
Job creation
Macro-economic costs
Macro-economic benefits
Conflicts: land and water usage; with governing bodies
(judicial); with large-scale mining; with the indigenous
population; with landscape protection objectives
Smuggling/illegality (products and profit)
No tax generation
Costs of controlling the sector
Continuous costs resulting from social causes
Uncontroled development due to lack of planned
exploitation
Contribution to regional economic
development by: cash circulation (social
product);investment;demand for products and
services; mobility;structural consequences
Avoids rural exodus
Mobilization of natural resources
Tax collection
Active effect for the balance of payments
Buffer for the labour market in cases of
programs for structural adaptation
Provides personnel reserves for large-scale
mining
Infrastructure development (road building,
schools, energy supply) by small-scale mining
neighbouring population
Corporative financial advantages (products
with a high labour coefficient in countries with
high labour availability
Relative stable product supply even with
market fluctuations
Contributes to product diversity and exports
Substitutes imports
Table 5: Small-Scale Mining- Costs x Benefits. Source: extracted from HENTSCHEL, T. et al. Global Report on
Artisanal & Small-Scale Mining,
39
CHAPTER 3: SMALL-SCALE MINING: INDUSTRIALIZED &
DEVELOPED REALITIES
III.1. SSM: Industrialized and developed positive contexts:
Small-Scale Mining (SSM) operations can be subdivided, as conventional mining,
according to the type of deposit into [12]:
1) Underground mining;
2) Open pit mining;
3) Placer mining.
The process steps comprehended in the mining cycle are essentially analog to the ones in
traditional mining, being exploration and exploitation usually not separated in ASM
realities:
As commented in the previous chapters, the types of mineral resources extracted by SSM
are ranged and so are the techniques associated to each of the below sectors:
 Base metals and poli-metallic;
 Precious metals;
 Coal;
 Non metallic, industrial minerals and construction materials (include dimension
stones);
 Gemstones.
Technical issues, innovation and mechanization play an essential role in ASM and SSM
and, in past years, have been subject to several misunderstandings. Many of Small-Scale
Mining problems are related to technical questions and can only be properly solved by
appropriate technological solutions. The implementation of technical changes in the
40
sector demands not a simply technique-oriented approach, but modifications and
improvements require detailed knowledge of the cultural, social, economic and
organizational context of the miners: “technical problems require technical solutions, but
an integral approach for implementation” [12]. This means technical solutions ought to be
implemented changing some of the framework-conditions, for which an interdisciplinary
approach is fundamental. Special attention is necessary to understand socio-cultural and
socio-economic structures and organizational interrelations of local stakeholders (miners,
concession holders, land owners, processing plants, mineral traders, suppliers, etc.) and to
realize local customs and habits of the different actors involved.
On the one hand, Artisanal Small-Scale Mining is usually not target by mining machinery
industry for developing specific mining equipment- for lack of capital by miners’
counterpart or for market strategy by industrial side. Conventional mining equipment is
therefore frequently modified by miners locally to fit their needs (e.g. Peruvian
amalgamation-mill) and a plural set of technical solutions for ASM is available, having
been developed for specific needs in local niches and have also undergone evolutionary
optimization processes during decades, but with weak diffusion into other mining regions.
On the other hand, engineering and machinery industries design specific and sometimes
sophisticated solutions for industrialized small, medium and large-scale mining aiming to
improve operations at prospecting, exploration and processing phases (to increment
recovery rates mainly).
In the case of industrialized Small-Scale Mining, technical solutions have to be compatible
with the economic potential of the target group, must be replicable and integrated
(encompassing environmental protection, production, health and energy dimensions, for
instance) and measures always need to be accompanied by education, training and
participation of the miners’ groups.
Considering the small dimension of the businesses included in SSM sector and their
relative limited financial resources and access to capital and funds, cheap and sometimes
simple techniques have a high potential for dissemination in the enterprises, even if a
more sophisticated solution is sometimes available in the market. Technical and
environmental innovations are often outcomes of technologic transfer from other SSM
41
regions and adapted to local conditions or result from existing technologies
improvement/optimization.
Often restrictedly in developed zones of the globe (e.g. Canada, Europe, Australia) SSM
have a semi or fully industrial aspect. These operations present the following
characteristics:
 Significant degree of mechanization;
 Higher recovery rates;
 Presence of plenty skilled workers;
 More aware of environmental issues and more engaged to sustainable policies;
 Advanced internal organization;
 Advanced managerial framework;
 Compliance with international industrial standards;
 Present in countries and contexts with a positive investment climate;
 Frequently financed and managed by partners from industrialized countries;
 Higher commitment to corporate social responsibility.
According to the ESA (European Space Agency)[15], there is a significant potential for
Industrial Small-Scale Mining operations in the European context, justified by the factors:
 High economic current potential of industrial SSM operations;
 Low cost Small-Scale Mining leads to an increasing reserve base;
 SSM can represent the start-up for larger follow-up operations;
 Discovery of giant deposits is statistical unlike;
 Mineable small deposits are available;
 “Depletion Midpoint” for nearly all raw materials is still unknown;
 Resources should be economically mineable right now, not in the long-term
period (20 to 40 years) as for large-scale companies;
 Even substitute raw materials have to be mined;
 In the last five decades more raw materials have been used ever since before;
 Utilization of industrial processing technologies allows better and better mineral
concentrates;
42
 Sustainability trends can be more efficiently approached by small-scale operations;
 The social and economic characteristics of SSM fully reflect the challenges of the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including health, environment, gender
and education.
In Europe, the industrial minerals sector, for example- which encompasses minerals such
as andalusite, bentonite, borates, calcium carbonate, cristobalite, diatomite, dolomite,
feldspar, kaolin, kaolinitic clays, lime, mica, quarz, sepiolite, talc, vermiculite and
wollastonite- is a self-sufficient industry with minerals extracted across the continent. One
interesting fact is that the main composition of the business is small and medium
enterprises [17].
Canada, a country among the main mineral global players, for instance, have experienced
years of sustainable development research and careful planning in mining activities and in
1996 has drafted the Minerals and Metals Policy of the Government of Canada: Partnerships for
Sustainable Development [16] aiming to make Canadian government active in making the
concept of sustainable development operational in its mining industry. Partnerships
between the State and the mining industry have been established allowing policy-making
to address main issues and actions to achieve environmental practices and management
and socioeconomic improved performance in the mineral field, encompassing small-scale
mines. As a consequence, sustainable development agendas have been developed within
the mining structures, benefiting inclusive SSM operations of actions such as: sustainable
redesign of operations; improved training, auditing and planning; environmental proactiveness in management techniques (control, mitigation, monitoring, techniques to
fostering for pollution prevention and resource consumption).
Considering that one important drawback associated to SSM is that it is still a limited
understood topic and with reduced knowledge sharing, initiatives from NGOs, bilateral
agencies and international institutions as the World Bank to support and finance SmallScale Mining are extremely worthy. Policy dialogue involves the crucial role of developed
countries in know-how and technology sharing, including the participation of G8 group
countries. In recent years, a great number of stakeholders have been engaging in SSM
issues and particularly developed world partners have been joining the cause aiming to
43
provide progress in governance and formalization in multiple contexts (mainly in the
developing countries).
One of the most relevant initiatives is the World Bank-housed CASM (Communities,
Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining), created in 2001, which has as objective the
transformation of SSM activities from a source of conflict and poverty into a catalyst for
economic growth and sustainable development through a holistic approach. CASM has
been supported in 2007 by the G8 group-France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US, Canada
and Russia- by a joint statement, expressing their support for efforts to develop
techniques to limit environmental degradation and pollutions associated to ASM and
turning available training and education to encourage safer technologies use in the sector.
Briefly talking, CASM aims to create sustainable communities’ development through right
conditions and incentives in the countries where Small-Scale Mining is strongly present
and is based on the following pillars [18]:
 Better governance and formalization of the sector;
 Initiatives to enhance environmental and technical performance, and socioeconomic development;
 Network building for more effective partnerships;
 Knowledge development and best practice sharing;
 Establishment of positive and productive relationship amongst local communities,
large-scale mining companies and government agencies within an equitable and
effective legal framework;
 Complying
with international standards related to labour regulations and
occupational health and safety;
 Providing acceptable incomes through productive mining practices which enhance
local infrastructure and services;
 Allowing for long efficient resource extraction, with access to fair markets and
sources of credit;
 Information centered in a global database, including CASM’s performance
indicators;
44
 Partnerships: more than 35 organizations are already working in cooperation with
CASM in 25 countries;
 Networks: three regional CASM networks are now operative in Africa, Asia and
China to provide support to artisanal and Small-Scale Mining in these zones;
 Knowledge and best practices sharing through guidance notes, toolkits, training
materials and a book to be launched;
 Providing appropriate technical expertise to guide different stakeholders on legal,
policy and technology-related issues.
The main donors of CASM are UK’s Department for International Development and the World
Bank Group, but they include Natural Resources Canada, thrust funds from Austria,
Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland and partners such as the Global Mining Research
Alliance, Association for Responsible Mining (ARM) and the Australian National University.
CASM is currently creating a knowledge-based community and a strong network of
miners, communities, governments, development agencies and non-profit organizations
in order to promote best practices principles in SSM operations.
Furthermore, the last decade has witnessed the development of innovative business
models in the Small-Scale Mining sector. One interesting model is the so-called ‘Fair
Traded ASM products’, fomented in collaboration with figures such as the Association for
Responsible Mining (ARM) and the German based NGO Fair Trade e.V. The central idea is
to link miner’s wellbeing to market demand, setting-up the practice of fair-trading in
mineral businesses, particularly the ones associated with precious metals and gems. In
fact, in spite of the contemporary society trend to increasingly consume responsibly
sourced products, jewellery consumers today are usually not able to know surely if their
purchases are related to social impacts or environmental damages (e.g. supporting
children labour or slave-like working conditions in a developing country or even
contribute to nature’s degradation or civil wars).
‘Fair-traded ASM products’ is therefore a way to enable small-scale miners to differentiate
their products- while responsibly produced precious metals- from generic precious metals
and then selling them under better terms and conditions. Consumers, on their side, can
receive a serious and genuinely founded quality guarantee to be buying a quality product
45
and to be supporting the development of the “sustained mining process” through formal
trading and market procedures. Obviously, to get the status of ‘fair-traded’ the mineral
products must compliance with some criteria, including [12]:
 Being legally constituted small-scale producers within a democratically organized
trade framework (e.g. cooperative society or association);
 Approach to mining must reflect a responsible attitude towards the environment;
 A social conscience and commitment to International Labour Organization (ILO) in
regard to workers’ welfare.
Being evaluated, monitored and advised by ASM-experts and organizations, whether
achieving the standard of ‘fair-trade’ operations, small-scale businesses are likely to receive
a premium in the form of increasing sales and additional payments which must be then
invested in social and environmental performance, working conditions, better education
and health services in their local communities. Notwithstanding, through gathering the
internationally agreed quality standard of ‘fair-traded mineral products’, this sustainable
business model give small-scale miners a financial opportunity to improving their mines’
productivity on their own accord, producing following a steady demand and with a safer
degree of regular planning- and avoiding production in erratic quantities.
Gold from Bolivian cooperatives, metals of the platinum group from South Africa (smallscale mine cooperative working through the old stock-piles of a major mine) and precious
coloured gems from Tanzania are examples of operations in supervision by Fair Trade e.V.
aiming to achieve the status of ‘fair-trade mines’.
III.2. Italian Small-Scale Mining: Highlights:
With reference to the Italian case, an historical analysis of the national production and
consumption pattern reveals that the industrial mineral sector is the favored for small
mining, with perhaps one or two exceptions in the metalliferous field. [19] Through the
decades, the most active ‘Small Mining’ fields registered, in Italy, are:
 Ceramic raw materials (clays and fluxes) extraction;
46
 The industrial minerals belonging to the mineral filler family and it close relatives
(pigments, coating materials etc.);
 Drilling mud barites and bentonites.
Metal mining, in contrast, is typically affair of large mineral units, although some examples
of small mines have been found in the sector of less common metals, such as antimony.
Economically analyzing, Italy is classified as an example of developed non-mineral
country, with strong reliance on mineral exportations- expressed by high ‘Net Import
Reliance’ (percentage ratio between imports-exports and the apparent consumption). This
marked dependence upon mineral imports is justified by geologic (scarce favorable
geologic
environments)
and
anthropologic
(significant
population
contingent).
Nevertheless, plenty examples of quarries (e.g. dimension stones) and a few examples of
mines are present within the Italian territory, while some mineral districts have been
indeed renowned in the past (e.g. Elba’s iron ore, Sardine’s lead and zinc and Toscana’s
mercury) and up to now (e.g. Carrara’s valorous marble).
The Italian Law distinguishes between mines and quarries, based on the nature of mineral
extracted and not on the cultivation method or productive unit’s dimensions. While mines
encompass extractive activities related to ‘first class minerals’- metallic and energetic
minerals, part of industrial minerals (ceramics and refractory minerals, for instance) and
precious stones- quarries comprehend the extraction of ‘second class minerals’dimension stones, marble, sand, aggregates, coloured stones, clays, quartzes, plaster, silica
and gneiss, for example.
In Italy there is no official definition for “Small Mining”. The concept changes from
context to context and from geographic region to geographic region. The definition given
by Badino, Mancini and Pelizza (1984)[19]with reference to Italian context follows the
workforce dimension-based criteria adopted in other industrial ambits and considers small
productive mineral units the ones with less than 40 employees. The same authors
emphasize as well that really few Italian mines could be in the studied period considered
internationally as medium or large-scaled. Another possible criteria rose by the authors to
define ‘Small Italian Mining’ is the installed power and, from that standpoint, ‘Small-Scale
Mine’ would be those with power lower than 1000 HP.
47
The standard Italian mine is notably small-sized and moderately mechanized. The smallsized Italian mines are prevalent in metallic and industrial mineral’s fields. Historically in
Italy, mettaliferous small-scale mines have not been a typical phenomenon, except for
recover operations of residual deposits, aborted projects of large-scale mines or politically
motivated activities. Presence of small-scale mining in Italy has been found in industrial
minerals sector, encompassing products such as aluminum hydro-silicates (clays, kaolin,
bentonite), barite, feldspate, talc and steatite, having emphasizes the determinant
importance of the internal market.
The examples of small-scale mines in Italy constitute cases not of utterly and advanced
technologies, sophisticated ways and large investments, but of accurate management,
efficient technical decisions and smartness to fulfill market’s demands and trends and
client’s willingness.
There are indeed several advantages-sometimes determinant- for a business to figure as
small-scale mine:
 The small mine is managed with a smaller ratio technical-administrative:
personnel directly employed in production;
 Can more easily satisfy environmental related constrains. For instance, being able
to find an use for its reduced amount of waste and residues produced instead of
creating big landfills;
 Is able to be start up in a smaller time;
 Is more flexible to adapt production levels, processes and also the product
according to market’s demand;
 Can adopt diverse efficient strategies to minimize intrinsic drawbacks related to
their small dimension such as:
 Accurate management and marketing of products, co-products and subproducts aiming to become valuable the excavated material as a whole;
 Unification of important plants and processing facilities (e.g. serving more
than one extractive unit);
 A modest and careful but often efficient mechanical development.
48
 The small-scale mine usually does not supply the same nature of client as their
large-scale counterparts. The proximity of the extractive unit to an important user;
the capacity to practice direct selling; the specialization in producing a particular
mineral (with especial grade and size), characterized by a sufficiently tiny market
unable to engage large-scale businesses are important strategic advantages for the
small mines.
It is vital to spot that Small-Scale Extractive industry activities have their businesses
successes inexorably constrained to the use and choice of ‘appropriate technology’,
‘appropriate market’ and ‘appropriate commercialization’.
In terms of sector’s dimension, in the 1980’s, for instance, there were in Italy over 400
mines and more than 7000 quarries, employing about 50.000 workers. Nowadays,
however, Italian mines are reduced to a really limited number as mineral resources socalled from ‘first category’ have been expressively exploited along the years and just few
of its activities remained. Quarries, on the other hand, still play a crucial role in Italian
economic contexts and dimension stones extractive industry, on its turn, is a meaningful
sector where Italian pioneer and vanguard position against the world is a reality, providing
high standard techniques, best practices and benchmarks used as reference worldwide.
III.3. Dimension Stones extractive industry in Italy:
Dimension stone is natural stone or rock that has been selected, exploited and fabricated
(trimmed, cut, drilled, ground or other) to specific sizes or shapes. The potential to be
economically extracted, processed and then commercialized in civil construction’s sector
is a consequence of determined specific requisites (resistance and durability) and aesthetic
(colour, design, appearance). The processed stones are used in civil construction as
structural and architectonic elements, coatings, covering, urban furniture, funerary art,
artistic applications, etc.
The range of dimension stones in Italy varies from gneiss or quartzite, to marble and
granite. The stones are classified according to physical-mechanic properties (coherent or
incoherent, compact or not); composition (one or more minerals); origin (endogenous or
exogenous); genesis (magmatic or igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic); technical and
49
commercial (workability, hardness, etc.). While granites are rocks with Mohs hardness
around 5-7, marbles present Mohs hardness between 3 and 4.
Regarding Small-Scale Mining and Quarrying, an interesting point to comment is that
construction materials and dimension stones are among the less social, environmental and
economically impacting extractive activities and consequently most easily adapted to
sustainable standards, as shown in Table 6 [12].
Table 6: SSM and impacts. Source: extracted from HENTSCHEL, T. et al. Global Report on Artisanal & SmallScale Mining, Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD)- International Institute for Environment
and Development (IIED), London, UK, January 2002.
The morphological and structural variability of deposits and the natural differentiation of
the physical characteristics of the stones exploited give reason to the very large range of
quarry layouts which can be found even in the same geographic area (e.g. surface hillside,
surface pit, underground: room and pillar) . Consequently, the range of technical solutions
developed and adopted is utterly wide, often reflecting the traditions and the experience
of a specific context [20]. Main operational phases of a dimension stone quarrying are
designed considering the two principal categories: hard stones and soft stones.
The framework shown in Figure 12 evidences the main factors to be considered for a
rational management and planning of a dimension stone’s quarry.
50
Figure 12: Management & Planning of a dimension stone enterprise. Source: CARDU, M. Lecture-Dimension
Stones, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2012.
The products obtained at the end of the productive cycle of an ornamental stone quarry
are sane rock blocks with specific dimension and characteristics that make them
commercially attractive. The quality of the product is affected by the integrity of the
medium, considering the following parameters: the state of the natural fracturing of the
medium; the presence of cavities in the medium; the present of discontinuities or
localized weakening; the preferred orientation of fractures and the mutual distance
between them (average spacing between discontinuities or bedding planes). The spacing
between fractures and fissures must thus be characterized: bigger the frequency of
discontinuities per meter, lower the integrity of the medium. The definition of the method
should adapt to the structural set of the deposit (fractures, bedding planes, weakness’
planes, etc.), for instance, subdividing the volume to be extracted in vertical, horizontal or
inclined slices, in accordance with structural aspects revealed.
51
Table 7: Spacing between fractures/fissures planes and rock mass classification. Source: CARDU, M. LectureDimension Stones, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2012.
From the parameters above cited it is possible to derive indices to characterize the
integrity of the rock at a qualitative and statistical predictive level. One of the indices most
widely used is the Rock Quality Designation (RQD), defined by the rate of relative sane core
pieces in the total length of a core run.
The mechanical and geotechnical properties of the medium are as well fundamental to
analyze rock behavior, being the main ones:
 Rock strength: comprehends the rock resistance to failure under load and is a
mechanical rock property depending mainly on the nature of the rock itself. It is
usual to talk in terms of uniaxial compressive strength and tension strength;
 Rock cuttability: depends not only on the rock, but also on the working conditions
as well as on the cutting process (deep of cut, tool size, cutting speed, axial force,
presence and extent of wetting, etc.). Systems for rating rock cuttability and
drillability for specific cutting/drilling methods (e.g. percussive drilling, rotary
drilling, drag-tool and roller-disk cutting) have been separately developed;
 Abrasiveness: indicator of the attitude of the medium to wear down the tools that
come in contact with it. The attrition that undergoes metal tools wear is primarily a
function of the mineral composition of the medium (the hardness of the materials
that constitute it) and the composition and shape of the tool. The tool wear results
in a progressive deterioration of the performance of machines, due to increased
contact area between tool and rock, until the specific pressure exerted by the tool
is no longer able to induce failure of the rock;
52
 Hardness: is a measure of how resistant a rock material is to various kinds of
permanent shape changes when a force is applied. It is usual to indicate rock
materials’ hardness by assigning them a position in the classical ‘Mohs Scale’, while
hardness is most commonly evaluated by Vicker and Knoop Tests.
After a careful study of geologic, geo technical and mechanical properties of the rock to
be extracted, the exploration and exploitation phase of dimension stones quarrying is
characterized by a really dynamic aspect, as the geometry of the excavation evolves in size
and shape over time during the work, constrained by final product desired characteristics,
pit design restrictions, geo structural deposit’s conditions, accessibility of free surfaces,
excavation front peculiarities and transportation necessities. The extraction procedure, in
order to conveniently obtain commercial blocks with a reasonable quarrying yield, must
be designed to benefit of the natural fractures and weakness plans for the cut.
The productive cycle of an already active dimension stone quarry has as final goal
obtaining commercial blocks of the interest rock and is composed by the following usual
steps of extraction and subsequent sub division of the in situ rock:
1) Extraction from the interest deposit of a large volume of rock having usually
prismatic geometry designed bench. This first phase is in Italian referred as
‘taglio/distacco al monte’ (primary cut) and has the aim of isolating the first
portion from the rock mass to allow the successive working phases;
2) Sub-division of the bench in slices and tipping them above the quarry yard. Called
secondary cuts, ought to divide the bench in more easily attackable parts on the
next phases;
3) Further blocks’ subdivision (‘riquadratura’): further cut of the slices in blocks of
standard commercial dimensions, able to be transported and after traded.
Note: Alternatively it is possible to adopt the strategy of cutting the blocks directly from
the rock body.
Considering the necessity of providing commercial blocks and sane enough to be
tradable, ample cuts or surfaces have to be made, with reasonable costs, in fast and
economically feasible time and without impairment of the rock soundness. The primary,
secondary and the further cuts of the rock can occur accordingly with different cultivation
53
methods, employing diverse strategies and cutting technologies sequentially to subject the
material to the diverse necessary transformation steps. The cut must be proceeded in a
controlled and careful manner, leaving the faces as plan and unaltered as possible and
avoiding the generation of new fractures in the exploited material as well as in the yet in
situ rock. The choice of the cutting techniques to be employed is conditioned by the rock
type, the required yield, safe constrains and applicability to the specific deposit (machines
used, projected time of execution, etc.).
The main established cutting technologies employed in Italian quarries are below
presented:
 Dynamic splitting (for hard stones);
 Diamond wire sawing (for hard and weak stones);
 Chain sawing (for weak stones);
 Line drilling;
 Flame-jet;
 Water-jet.
The further and auxiliary operations of quarrying also demand specific techniques. For
bench toppling the common techniques employed are hydro bags, hydraulic jacks
excavators and winches. For handling and transporting, wheel loaders, tracked loaders,
excavators and derrick cranes are used. Additionally, several auxiliary equipments are
necessary and compressors, self-moving drilling units, dust exhausters, pumps, generators
and mobile cranes are often employed.
Table 8 below summarizes and illustrates the main solutions frequently observed in Italian
ornamental stones quarries, classified according to their use for hard and weak rocks. In
the next paragraphs some of the techniques here mentioned are presented.
54
Table 8: Quarrying methods and cutting technologies in Italian dimension stones quarries. Source: CARDU, M.
Lecture-Dimension Stones, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2012.
1) Dynamic Splitting:
Is a conventional technique, broadly diffused for hard rocks and with relatively reduced
cost. Consists on precision drilling followed by controlled blasting. Demands thus the use
of explosives, often employing detonating cord (8-15 g/m of linear charge containing
PENT) with very thin linear charges (approximately 32 cm hole, but just 3 cm charged:
high charge decoupling, being the gap filled with water or sand/gravel). Holes are placed
in parallel and spaced closely (10 to 40 cm) and the detonation is simultaneous. The
technique is therefore characterized by the execution of a set of holes really close along
the desired cut plane and charge them with detonating cord to extract the aimed bench (at
least three free surfaces are necessary to achieve the desired displacement).
The positive points of this technique are flexibility and versatility at accessible costs
mainly for hard rocks, being possible to use it in different displacement patterns and
55
quarrying configurations. Moreover, it can be used for primary and further cuts, varying
charging mode and spacing between holes.
The drawbacks are the noise and danger associated with explosive use, vibration, emission
of toxic gases, possible induction of fractures in sane rock, irregularity of created
superficies (bigger materials waste compared to cut with sawing) and long dead time due
to drilling procedure. Nowadays, some of the expected improvements in study related to
dynamic drilling techniques are more productive drills and more accurate guidance.
Figure 13: Quarrying by dynamic splitting technique.
Figure 14: Quarrying by dynamic splitting and diamond wire saw working in cooperation.
56
Figure 15: Scheme-Dynamic Splitting.
Figure 16: Dynamic Splitting: main parameters and scheme.
57
2) Diamond Wire Saw:
Has been first idealized for soft rocks’ cut in the 1960’s and just in the 1980’s has been
introduced for the hard rocks’. Currently, this technology is present in 90% of marble’s
(soft rocks) quarries and in 30% of granite (hard and abrasive rocks) quarries in Italy.
The general principle of operation of the machine is to cut the rock, according to a
predetermined plane, by means of a flexible cable made abrasive. The standard
application is based on the creation of a loop in which the wire runs at high speed, always
sprinkled with water for its cooling (15-50 l/min), so as to progressively affect the stone,
creating an ever deeper groove.
The abrasion effect and consequently the cut is generated by the diamonds contained on
the beads placed in the same diamond wire. This cable is wound noose around the rock to
be cut and is slid at high speed and pressed against the material to be cut with a
certain force by means of the system consisting on pulleys and flywheel, driven by the
motor of the cutting machine. To maintain the contact between the rock and the wire, the
machine moves backwards, usually above rails.
If there are insufficient free surfaces around the portion of rock to be isolated, two
intersecting holes must be drilled through which the wire will pass. In order to achieve the
desired effect of cut, the holes should have a diameter sufficient to ensure reduced
deviations and more possibility to be coplanar and convergent.
Once built the circuit, the diamond wire shall enter for the execution of the cut
of the surface identified by the holes. Cooling of diamond tools is through
water and allows them a longer service life and efficiency.
The components of the machine are:
 Engine:
electric
motor
(18-56kW)
connected
to
a
flywheel
aluminium alloy (diameter from 550 to 1020 mm). The assembly is mounted on a
frame which has the ability to rotate 360 degrees above itself (to perform cuts
from horizontal to vertical) and translate on a special track. The flywheel has a
coated anti-abrasive rubber groove in the external part that will host the diamond
58
wire and will provide it a certain speed (5-10 m/s for the header and the end of the
cut, 20-40 m/s for the rest of the operation);
 Control Panel: it is far from the machine and allows remote control to
increase the safety of operators during the cutting phase;
 Rail: tubular or profiled, fitted with rack, on which the machine can translate;
 Guide pulleys: to correctly guide the wire;
 Diamond wire: actual cutting machine, exploiting the hardness of the diamond to
abrade the rock and generate a groove which gradually deepened will cut along the
desired surface. It is made from a galvanized steel cable with a diameter of 5 mm,
consisting of 7 strands helically wound and has the task of transporting the
diamond beads and place them in contact with each other and in reciprocal
movement with the rock.
The beads (free to rotate around their own axis) are the fundamental element for
cutting-tool. Those are evenly distributed along the cable and are present in
variable number according to the type of rock to be cut (from 28 to 34 for soft
rocks and from 32 to 40 for hard and abrasive rocks).
The bead is a metal bushing of cylindrical or truncated cone about an inch long,
inner diameter of 5 mm and outer of 8-11 mm. Are classified in beads with
diamond electroplated and sintered beads. The first consist on a layer of diamonds
that are deposited on surface of the bushing with an electrochemical process and
adhered with a binder to nickel and offer better performance in the initial phase,
but suffer premature wear and thus maybe conveniently used in soft materials such
as marble. The latter, instead of containing synthetic diamonds, are immersed in an
amalgam consisting of cobalt and bronze (in varying proportions depending of the
desired hardness) and in constant concentration throughout the whole useful
thickness of the bead- this configuration secures yield relatively lower but constant
in time; in fact, on average, the diamonds are gradually dislodged and readily
replaced by those that reappear on the surface as a result of the consumption
amalgam, ensuring a certain continuity of performance over time- this type of bead
is used for the cut of hard stones.
59
The cutting mechanism can be thought as the disintegration of rock crawling
through micro-tools (diamonds), with deep of cut very small. The cut will have a
final width of about 10-11 mm and will be very smooth and precise, leading to a
loss of material on the bank very limited (2-2,5%).
In the case of hard rocks, impregnated beads and synthetic diamonds on
plasticized or rubberized wire are often used.
Figure 17: Diamond wire saw.
Figure 18: Underground marble quarry employing diamond wire saw for the cut.
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Figure 19: Types of diamond beads: above, electroplated conventional bead for soft rocks; below, impregnated bead
plasticized for hard and abrasive rocks.
Figure 20: Scheme of diamond wire saw cutting a slice of ornamental stone.
Table 9: Main features of the diamond wire sawing method. Source: CARDU, M. Lecture-Dimension Stones,
Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2012.
61
3) Chain Cutter:
Chain sawing is a cutting technique employed for weak rocks (marble). The arm usually
has a length of 3,5 m and the frame that supports it has a width of 5-6 m and a height of
3,2-4,5 m. Thanks to the movement on the lifting columns and those of translation, it is
possible to realize both horizontal and vertical cuts, rotating the holding head arm. It is
possible to control as well feed and cutting motion of the arm.
The cutting tools of the machine are cutting platelets of tungsten carbide (widia) or
polycrystalline diamond (Stratapack), housed on appropriate supports in turn fixed on the
links of the chain. The plaques are mounted on the chain in series of 6-7 elements,
positioned so as to protrude at an adjustable angle (in the case of small plates prismatic
square-based) or with part of the outer diameter (if circular base).
The chain cutter is used both for primary and further cuts. A common method is using
the chain cutter for the first phase of the excavation and then proceeding with mixed
technology (chain cutter and diamond-wire saw).
Figure 21: Chain cutter scheme and the execution of horizontal and vertical cuts.
62
Figure 22: Chain cutter.
Figure 23: “Self moving” chain cutter executing typical cut in a marble quarry.
Figure 24: Typical cutting tools (right) and their configuration on the links of the chain (left).
63
4) Diamond belt cutter:
The diamond belt cutting machine is a most recent variant of the chain cutter (usable
exclusively for soft rocks). The machine is equipped with an engine block mounted on a
frame and connected to a movable arm on which runs the diamond belt. The three
motions of the machine are: cutting motion (requires the most amount of power and is
given by the sliding of the strap of the arm); motion power (given by the movement of
the arm around its pin); and the motion of the engine block itself. The speed of the belt
on the arm (20 m/s) is much higher than that of the chain cutter, also due to the different
types of cutter- in effect, the diamonds have a pass’ thickness much lower than the
carbide plates and, thus, to be able to function properly with adequate cutting speed, the
speed of the cutting motion must necessarily be greater.
The belt is composed of an armor of steel wires coated with plastic material; tools are
constituted by segments of rectangular steel cables connected to the main cable and
covered on the wear side by a layer of diamond sintered in an amalgam and are in number
about 13/meter of belt. The cut has a thickness roughly equal to that of the belt (32-40
mm), horizontal length theoretically infinite and depth limited by the length of the arm
(normally between 1,9 and 4,8 m). The lubrication and cooling of the belt are carried out
via water pressure.
The advantages of the machine are: its versatility; the possibility of performing also cuts in
presence of only one free surface; the overall simplicity of the operation; the good flatness
of the cutting and the absence of inducted lesions on the rock.
In contrast, the downsides are: its use is only convenient for moderately hold and abrasive
rocks and not for very abrasive and hard rocks (granites); its higher cost compared to the
other techniques (it is not possible to change a single belt tool at a time, but in case of
problems, the complete replacement of the belt shall be carried out).
Figure 25: A diamond belt cutter.
64
Figure 26: Scheme of a diamond belt cutter with its axes of rotation and translate movements.
Figure 27: A particular of a belt with diamond tools.
5) Water-Jet:
The method uses water as a cutting agent, projected at high speed and high pressure (up
to 400 MPa), with a jet diameter of a few millimeters. The cutting mechanism consists on
a disintegration of the rock, component by component (or mineral by mineral). The
cutting system with a jet of water is already established in many areas of production and
several industries, but as far as regards to dimension stones’ cutting in quarries is still in
experimental and optimization phase (although it is already used in laboratories for
finishing and processing of stones’ plate).
The machine consists of two main components, a pressure generator and a lance with
nozzle head that uses the flow and the pressure generated. The first has the task of
providing a certain flow of water (5-80 l/min) at a specified pressure (100-400 MPa). The
methods for obtaining these pressures are the use of a volumetric pump to a single-stage,
which reaches pressures of 200 MPa and high capacity, or two-stage system (volumetric
pump with pressure amplifier)-for higher pressures but lower flow rates. The user instead
is the nozzle (transforms the hydraulic load in kinetic energy associated to the water)
65
mounted on a rod which can translate it to ensure that it remains at an optimal distance
from the rock to attack during cutting. This rod is a critical part of the machine: it has to
withstand large loads due to generated forces by the water that comes out at supersonic
speeds (800-900 m/s) from the nozzle, but must also be lean enough to be able to slide in
the executed cut (4-8 cm), avoiding that the dimensions of this should come excessive
(and thus more costly in terms of yield). There are thus three types of nozzle often used:
fixed nozzles in large number (up to 10); 1-4 nozzles mounted on a rotating head; 1-2
nozzles mounted on an oscillating head- this latter is the most used and most successful.
In fact, the seals are fixed, simpler, inexpensive and robust. The cut is done by translating
and penetrating the auction for subsequent passes along the desired direction. The
advancement of the machine can be automated thus allowing the optimization of the
processing and bringing down labour costs and general management.
The achievable depths of the cut are 2,5-3,5 m without the aid of extensions, while
productivity is very variable from rock to rock, being the machine essentially notcompetitive for marbles and homogeneous materials, but fundamentally competitive for
hard and abrasive materials, heterogeneous, fractured and with hard and brittle minerals
such as quartz (no need of re-continuous change of tools, as it does not come in direct
contact with the rock).
The points of interest related to the technology are:
 Performs a really precise cutting, leaving the sides of the cuts in a good condition,
guaranteeing higher blocks’ yield when compared to other cutting techniques;
 Is easily automatable, allowing the execution of the cut in a more secure and
economic manner (the continuous presence of the operator is not required);
 Vibration almost inexistent;
 Emission of practically no pollutants;
 Allows the cutting even in the presence of only one free surface;
 Combined with the diamond wire saw, allows to run schemes of cultivation in
hard rocks that could not be otherwise affordable (for instance, with jet openings
and subsequent block cutting with diamond wire saw);
The problems related to the technology are, in contrast:
66
 Currently the air velocity of cut is poor;
 High specific energy of cutting;
 High noise level (uses a supersonic jet of water);
 Difficulty of creating versatile machines for each type of rock;
 Very high initial investment costs;
 The need for constant maintenance and performed by highly skilled labour force;
 Requires considerable water flow.
The water jet is surely a machine that, while combined with other cutting techniques, is
for certain rocks really convenient. The gneiss could be a rock suitable for its use due to
the presence of minerals in elastic-plastic behaviour such as quartz and due to the strong
schistosity. Moreover, the step quarry configuration cultivated by horizontal descendant
slices is optimal for the use of water-jet, as it can lead to a high degree of automation.
Figure 28: Water-Jet machine-scheme: left, mobile pressure generator; right, rod with nozzle.
Table 10: Performance of the water-jet fo different lithotypes and with different operational configurations.
67
6) Flame-Jet:
The cutting technique with the flame-jet exploits the thermal shock induced in a material
by a burner that generates a flame at a high temperature (from 1500 to 2500°) and gas
projected at high speed (about 1300 m/s). The rock will be consequently subjected to
very high thermal gradients which, enjoying its anisotropy and its high consequent
different thermal expansion (very evident in rocks containing various different minerals,
such as granites with about 20% of quartz) will induce breakage in the scales of the
affected part. The operator manually maintains the jet inclined of about 60° and deepens
the cut through successive passes of the flame. The cut will have about 10 cm thickness
and the separated plans are apparently vitrified (side effect of the technique). The
compressed air consumption is of about 4 to 8 m3/h. The maximum cut depth varies
from 6 to 10 m. Diesel consumption is around 30 to 60 l/h.
Its advantages are the low investment cost and the immediacy of use, not demanding
preliminary operations to cut the rock.
The disadvantages are its restricted use only in certain types of rocks; the damage of the
rock around the cut; the significant environmental impact (high noise due to supersonic
gases, dust and toxic gases exhaust); and a relatively low yield.
7) Line drilling:
Consists on executing coplanar drilling according to the desired cutting plane. The holes
are allocated really closed in such a way to be interfering with each other, producing
therefore a direct detachment surface and respecting the geometric demands without
possible corners’ fractures.
The advantages are that this technology can be used even in the presence of only one free
surface and with the use of a single drill. In contrast, the drawbacks are the considerably
high execution time and a very costly specific drilling, specially in hard and abrasive rocks
such as the gray gneiss.
68
Figure 29: Line-drilling execution.
8) Use of swelling mixtures:
Even this method exploits the presence of a drilling with discontinuous holes and parallel
to each other and arranged on the desired separation plane. Inside the holes, expansive
mortars are inserted, generating through maturation (and thus increasing in volume) a
strong pressure (up to 80 MPa) such as to break the rock present between the holes.
The environmental advantages of that method are undoubted as it produces almost no
noise, vibration or other external effects and it does not appear to be disruptive as for
example the dynamic splitting.
Nevertheless, it presents limitations: it cannot be used in fractured rocks (the mortar
would be lost in the cracks, unable then to produce the desired effect); limited
productivity, as the time of action is of about 6 to 24 hours.
Figure 30: Injection of expansive mixtures in a hole.
69
9) Discontinuous drilling and the use of wedged tools:
It generates a detachment surface by inserting into the previously drilled holes wedges
driven by fins. The insertion of the wedges with manual bats causes a fracture along the
surface detected by a perforation. To obtain a good result the wedges must be made of
hard and resistant metals.
The evolution of this method is a mechanized version composed by a metallic cylinder
that contains inside the wedge and which mechanically generates pressure (the so-called,
in Italian, ‘spaccarocce’).
Below is presented a scheme of the main techniques employed for each of the operations
in a dimension stone quarry (cutting, splitting and cautious blasting):
Table 11: Main techniques for each operation in dimension stone quarrying.
For hard rocks, dynamic splitting and diamond wire saw are probably the most used
techniques in Italian quarries. The Table 12, Figures 31 and 32 below evidence the
economic costs comparison between the two techniques, showing for the primary cutting
of a gneiss bench the main costs heading. It is noticeable the relative higher cost of
diamond wire saw when compared to dynamic splitting. However, diamond wire saw
allows the execution of much more precise cuts, with less risk of inducing fractures and
with reasonably lower waste production. A simple, versatile and effective quarrying
technique is the use of diamond wire technique in cooperation with dynamic splitting,
70
leading to better recovery with little cost increase and achieving precision and automation
possibility
Table 12: Comparison between Dynamic Splitting and Diamond wire saw: main costs in a primary cut of gneiss
bench.
Figure 31: Main heading costs: Dynamic Splitting X Diamond wire sawing.
71
Figure 32: Production cost X Average block price for the two different techniques.
The final product obtained in the quarry is the block of a standard size. It can be used
without further processing for a limited number of applications, such as the construction
of massive walls for terraces, banks for rivers, bridles and other sporadic activities. In
some cases the sane blocks free of defects can be used for sculptures by local artists. The
irregular blocks, which do not lend themselves for subsequent processing may be used as
cliff building blocks (breakwater). In most cases, however, the block is transported to a
processing establishment in which undergoes further treatment, having as final result the
semi-finished slabs with different surface treatments. The next step is usually not the user
but a laboratory that from the slab (and by other forms arising from the block) will derive
the final product itself, directly usable by private customers. The operations proceeded in
the processing establishment are:
a) Sawing: The primary work suffered by the block is the joint sawing or its
subdivision in slabs by cutting. This can be done in various ways: natural splitting;
sawing with a giant disc containing diamond tools; multi-blade (blades made of
hardened steel placed at an adequate distance to obtain slabs of a desired thickness
72
by dragging the abrasive cutting slurry continually dropped from the top) and
multi-wire frames.
Since the sawing operation can sometimes result in slabs aesthetically inadequate
for their use as ornamental stones, it is therefore essential to work them with
surface treatment more suitable for the purpose of final use. The main treatments
are: Flaming; Bush-hammering; Brushing; Polishing; Hydro-sculpturing. The
techniques can often be combined in the same decoration piece in order to obtain
the desired decorative effect (for instance, flaming inside and hammered edges or
polished and brushed sides).
Figure 31: Multi-blade frame for blocks’ sawing.
b) Flaming: comprehends the creation of a strong thermal shock localized and
superficial through a flame fed with oxygen and propane and the successive
cooling with water. The treatment implies the crumble of a thin surface layer that
is separated from the slab and leaves below an aspect much more natural looking
on the surface;
c) Bush-Hammering: one of the oldest form of treatment. Initially performed by
hand, is nowadays executed by the percussion of a tool (today activated by
compressed air)- called chisel or punch- having different pyramidal tips that
produce scratches of different dimensions on the slab depending on the shape and
73
the size of the punch and on the hammering force. Provides the surface a certain
roughness.
d) Brushing: The slab’s surface is covered and vigorously rubbed by the real brushes
pressed against the slab and equipped with bristles of various hardness and
flexibility (steel, brass, synthetic) that give the surface a certain smoothness or
asperities. The material becomes thus pleasant to the touch and easy to clean,
being consequently suitable for indoor use.
e) Polishing: this is the treatment that further enhances the stones’ beauty and which
better highlights their colors making it shiny and reflective. The slab enters the
polishing transported by a continuous belt and is then first smoothed (the
asperities are leveled) and after polished in a continuous process that involves the
use of a series of grinding wheels (whose heads rotate, translate and are pressed
against the slab) with an abrasive’s particle size gradually decreasing. This
processing is the most expensive and so little used only for internal applicationsconsidering the technique’s slipperiness, its use for public buildings’ floors is illegal
in some countries.
f) Hydro-sculpturing: The slab is attacked with high pressure water jets that become
the surface rough. The roughness of the surface is influenced by worked material,
activity pressure, height of the nozzles and their travel speed.
In terms of quarrying yield, three definitions are important to assess quarries’
performances:
 Mining Recovery (<1): the ratio between the volume of extracted stone and the
volume of material available in the exploited deposit;
 Bench yield or quarrying yield (<1): the further ratio between the total volumes
obtained and the total volume of commercial blocks obtained and the bench
originally detached;
 Performance of the quarrying (<<1): is the product of the two precedent ratio.
74
The management and planning of a dimension stone quarry is based on a rational
procedure and encompasses the following steps:
1) Preliminary technical survey: geo-lithological, geo-mechanical and structural;
2) Analysis and application of suitable quarrying methods and technologies:
optimization of production cycle in a way to maximize blocks recovery, allow
environmental rehabilitation and adequate health & safety policies;
3) Commercial valorization;
4) Economic recovery;
5) Marketing to local, regional or international economy.
Figure 33: Scheme for waste management in dimension stones quarry.
Increasing exigencies are currently observed in the ambit of waste management in order
to find out proper and ecologically acceptable disposal and handling ends for waste rock
(by-products of natural stones quarrying). The rehabilitation and after-use can be
proceeded by means of re-employment, re-utilization and recycling. After selecting
different waste typologies, some important reuse points for waste rock can be figured out.
75
For instance, rock debris of small size (mixed to earth) can be used for filling and ramps
construction, without any additional treatment. Recycling (use in the same productive
cycle) is also a smart alternative for waste. However, alternative uses of waste rock are still
a challenge for dimension stones’ industry.
Concerning the State-of-the-art of Ornamental Stone quarrying in Europe, among the
main issues associated with the sector are:
 Demand of a planned and technically-based management and a better organization
(proper land use planning and correct natural resources exploitation);
 Urgent necessity of minimizing the quarry-waste production by increasing
recovery rate and re-use of leftover stone;
 Adoption and correct use of innovative, safe and productive technologies;
 Social
claim
for
eco-compatible
and
sustainable
quarrying-
improving
environmental performance of quarrying operations and effective final
rehabilitation of the sites.
Indeed, a growing market and heavy international competition are more and more
increasing the need to optimize block recovery, quality production, better predictability of
exploration methods, resources management and life-cycle analysis.
In Italy, the dimension stones industry presents a fundamental global role in the importexport trading balance, in the creation of working and processing procedures and in
reference technology’s production. Apart from the high economic average value of the
final products and the prestigious acquired in international contexts and uses, Italian
ornamental stones are associated with benchmarking quarrying methods, cutting and
exploitation technologies for the international industry.
According to statistics, the majority of Italian quarries are small or medium-scale
operations. In 2001, for instance, the average number of employees for company was
lower than 6 [21], with a monetary production value of about 2.700.000.000 € and an
average unitary value of the final product of 260 €/t.
The economic and social relevance of dimension stones’ quarries in Italy, the
environmental, cultural and political features consequently linked to it and the strong
presence of small-scale quarry enterprises in the sector justify the reasonable interest of
76
studying and assessing small dimension stones quarrying Italian realities in an attempt to
figure out best practices, analyze technologies and highlight business’ perspectives and
models for potential sustained success.
77
CHAPTER 4: SMALL-SCALE MINING- EMERGENT, ARTISANAL
& DEVELOPMENT REALITIES
IV.1. SSM: Artisanal, Development & other impacting realities:
“ASM is pivotal in alleviating poverty, increasing community capital and diversifying the
local economy in many rural regions of the developing world, primarily because it is
viable in areas with minimal infrastructure where other industries could not function”[22].
In many countries of the world- particularly the developing ones- Small-Scale Mining is
even more important than large-scale one, in terms of number of employments. In poor
zones, SSM can assume important position as a crucial- if not exclusive- income source
for whole communities and play meaningful social role in poverty alleviation. In spite of
the socioeconomic benefits related to SSM, common sense knowledge is the one of
associating its activities with unsustainable and unprofitable practices and socioenvironmental burdens.
As a social need and a poverty reduction activity, as a matter of fact, Small and Artisanal
Mining will still exist while there are socially-impacted area and, although it is possible to
find opponents to their presence, it is crucial that governments and civil society look for
ways of mitigating the impacts costs regarding ASM’s operations, driving efforts to
maximize their benefits.
Indeed impacting realities are associated with SSM, such as child labour and intense
presence of women’s workforce. A current contingent of about 13 million people is
estimated to be involved in SSM activities around the globe, mainly in developing regions
and under artisanal conditions. Along the thirty years that ASM has up to now been
discussed, the theme has reached important results in terms of research, progresses and
increasing attention of the media and experts. Initiatives such as including ASM in many
governmental agendas; bilateral and multinational agreements; international donation
associations; special funds; and the exchange of experiences and relationships among
small and large-scale enterprises express the actual interest towards the theme.
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The approaches to deal with ASM have been subjected to several changes along the years.
While at the 1970’s the efforts have been driven in a more conceptual and theoretical
definition of the issue, the initiatives have afterwards been shifted mainly in the sense of
technical improvements, to environmental, social and legal questions. In the recent
decade, on its side, the theme has particularly focused attention on gender and child
labour issues; relationships between small and large-scale mining companies; community
related issues; and sustainable livelihoods. Following this current trend, many developed
partners have been employing useful resources and expertise to help impacted and poorer
zones in the globe. Examples are German support programs for ASM in Ghana,
Colombia and Zimbabwe; the UK Department for International Development (DFID), which
aims to find a scheme model of assistance to small-scale miners; and the Swiss SDC with
environmental protection programs in Latin-American ASM. The World Bank, on its turn,
has been financing projects in different zones, including the Burkina Faso, Bolivia,
Ecuador, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Mozambique, Madagascar, Papa New Guinea and
Tanzania. Important associations engaged in the theme are the International Labour
Organization (ILO), the CEPAL- in Latin America- and the CASM (Collaborative Group on
Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining), both involving donation’s coordination, funds availability
and experience for information exchange. Furthermore, in countries such as South
Africa- in coal mines-, in Ghana- in gold mines-, and in Venezuela- in the placer
extractive industry- large-scale mining companies have been collaborating with small
miners.
The developing world is actually the main zone of ASM strong presence. Africa, Oceania,
Asia, Central and South America are notable hotspots of its activities. Some of the most
important ASM countries worldwide include:
 Africa: South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Malawi,
Mali, Tanzania, Zambia, Central African Republic, Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea,
Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda;
 Asia: China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and
Philippines;
 Latin America and Caribbean: Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Colombia,
Dominican Republic, French Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Surinam and Venezuela;
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 Oceania: Papua New Guinea.
Clear is that depending on the region of the globe different typologies of problem arise.
Some of the key issues, divided by geographical zone, are:
 Africa: AIDS and sustainable community development;
 Asia: multicultural aspects and cultural rights;
 Latin America and Caribbean: regional environment, legal and indigenous aspects.
An expressive number of minerals is extracted in small productive units in developing
zones. Marked presence has the gold and the precious gems industry (diamond, emeralds
and garnets, for example) - involving alluvional gold mining and mercury amalgamation.
In Ghana and Ecuador, for instance, two third of ASM production is attributed to gold,
while in the Philippines the percentage arrives to 90% and in Peru to almost 100%. In
addition, bauxite, silver, tin, zinc, limestone, marble, construction materials, coal and iron
ore are other relevant minerals for the ASM operations in developing zones.
Nevertheless, important challenges are still in evidence in all those developing realities:
 Integrating the ASM sector in the local community and encouraging its profits to
be reallocated in a virtuous cycle of socioeconomic activities and services within
the community is one of the issues;
 A significant gap can be observed in terms of ASM information and in gathering a
vaster and more understandable socioeconomic database in order to stress the
importance of the sector and to attract investments;
 In zones where Small Mining is particularly characterized by artisanal and
impacting realities, the assistance projects play a meaningful role. However, the
volume of investments by donors, government and large-scale mining companies
is yet small and shall be raised.
 It is important to figure out that ASM activities have transbourdary dimensions
because pollution, migration and smuggling (e.g.: gold and precious stones which
can support war activities) are spread also to other countries;
 The gender labour issue is also a current preoccupation and expresses the necessity
to find a way to fairly compensate women for their labour efforts;
80
 The children labour is a concerning point especially in developing countries;
 Environmental health and safety are probably the most impacting factors to be
assessed: pollution, unsafe operations and associated diseases and health
complications are some of the drawbacks involved in artisanal small-scale mining;
 Selling terms and contractual conditions for miners are also a matter to be
considered;
 The lack of institutional and governmental support for ASM activities is an
additional issue.
One of the fundamental aspects of ASM that explains its major concentration in
developing zones is the poverty driven feature of the activities: their location in rural areas
and lacking regions of the globe is in many cases a matter of livelihood perspectives for
communities. The problems associated to the activities are as consequence, for example,
low levels of income, unskilled labour and environmental impacts. Therefore, in order to
implement technical changes, modifications and improvements in the sector, detailed
knowledge about cultural, social, economical and organizational context of the
communities is mandatory.
In the particular case of Sub-Saharan Africa, ASM is characterized by a unique poverty
trap fuelled by inefficient technologies, low productivity, inability to reinvest profits and
low economic returns. In many locals in Africa, Small-Scale Mining is called shockpushed, being a result of economic crisis, armed conflict, or natural disaster. It affects
rural areas lacking other income opportunities and other income opportunities, but
offering mineral resources as a last alternative. Local government institutions and
governance in those areas are underdeveloped or nonexistent. A strong cause of that
impacting picture is the informality of significant part of the sector: the absence of a
license to operate means restrict access to financial, logistical and technological support
enjoyed by formal operations. Failure to take into account the dynamics of ASM
communities almost always leads to the implementation of inappropriate legislation and
industry support schemes. The “top-down” approach taken to formalize and support
ASM has resulted in the dissemination of improper processing and environmental
techniques, including bureaucratic licensing schemes and design of ineffective or
incompatible regulations. In African countries, in spite of some efforts funded by
81
donations to formalize the sector, still many artisanal miners are threatened by a vicious
circle of poverty, being indebted and bound to various middlemen who, in the absence of
formal support, exploit their advantageous position and provide loans on inequitable
terms. The aim of policymakers in those African countries must then be the one of
finding ways, incentives and support to intervene in the poverty trap of ASM and offering
small artisanal miners an opportunity to establish a sustainable business.
Figure 34: Artisanal Mining poverty trap. Source: Hilson and Pardie (2006).
The figure of African ASM is notably vast [23]. The sector’s workforce is composed by
various backgrounds, skills and ambitions. A large number of ‘retrenched’ professionals is
involved in the activities, including redundant large-scale mine workers, semi-skilled
people who have lost their jobs due to depressed economic environments and tens of
thousands of families which, in response to climatic uncertainty and price fluctuations for
cash crops, have also branched out into ASM to supplement their familiar earnings. ASM
is thus capable of providing job- even if majorly informal- to a population from various
backgrounds. In a representative section of a camp in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is a
complex mosaic of people, including washers, machine operators, haulers, drivers and
skilled workers (safety officers, bookkeepers and accountants).
In the Southern Africa, more than 30 different minerals are exploited by Small-Scale
Mining [24]. The sector is dominated by easily marketable minerals and precious minerals
and stones- gold, gemstones, sapphire and diamond; but clays, ornamental stones, barite,
82
bauxite, chromium, coal, copper, graphite, gypsum, iron, kaolin, lead, limestone, lithium,
magnesite, platinum, sand, sulfur, talc, tin, tungsten, zinc and quartz are other minerals
extracted as well . As a consequence, a huge number of issues regarding mining,
processing and marketing the mineral products emerge, which makes the task of
prescribing general solutions to the mining problematic more difficult. Analyzing 6 of the
most important African countries for ASM- Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, South
Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe- more than one million small-scale miners are estimated to
be present and Small-Scale Mining is a sector in exponential growth. In Ghana, for
instance, the diamond extractive industry plays an important role in the compressive
national production, being, at one hand, a fundamental socioeconomic driver, but, at the
other hand, an overwhelming source of conflicts (for instance, between large mining
companies and artisanal miners) and localized civil wars.
To make it short, in the case of sub-Saharan Africa, the key-point to successful policies in
ASM sector is properly understanding the sector’s dynamics in order to correctly
designing and implementing regulations and industry support schemes, and efficiently
drive miners to more sustainable processing techniques providing greater ore recovery
and softer environmental burdens.
Shifting the focus to Asia and the Pacific Region, the countries there located- including
Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines and Indonesia- have an
artisanal and small-scale mining industry, which has been originally established as an
alternative to supplement agricultural activities. The tradition has historically been
towards precious and semi-precious stone mining with low technological trends, although
in recent years an increasing in the levels of technological use and chemical techniques
could be noticed. The main problem- similarly to the other developing zones of the
globe- is that Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining is poorly licensed in comparison with
mineral exploitation companies that have been issued with numerous licenses. Indeed,
the emergence of specific laws to define Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining is a new
phenomenon. Regulating and licensing SSM operations is an important challenge as the
sector has been practically neglected in past national mining codes. The issue is yet
aggravated by the fact that effective policies, strategies and corporate social responsibility
83
to act locally and nationally must encompass multiple stakeholders, different types of
minerals and a broad variety of processing techniques.
The issues to be solved related to ASM in Asian zones are among others: environmental
protection; natural resource management; environmental impact assessment and
monitoring; labour dimensions and multiplicity in the sector; mercury use in gold
processing operations; licensing and regulation; necessity of enhancing capacity building
of small miners; environmental, social, health and economic problems in the
communities; training and capacitating professionals.
The case of mercury use is a huge issue to be approached and has particular focus of the
“Global Mercury Project”(GMP) from the United Nations (UN). The metal is used for
gold amalgamation and sometimes in combination with cyanide. ASM is worldly the
largest source of mercury pollution from intentional uses and hundreds of sites in the
Asia-Pacific region have been identified as mercury hotspots [25]. Mercury is used
commonly for gold extraction because it is simple, cheap and easily available. However,
mercury is a threaten for community’s health and a strong pollution source and its use
must be reduced by the use of alternative processing techniques currently available- one
of those is gravity concentration followed by cyanidation in a ball mill. The lack of
awareness in communities and the insufficient education problems are obstacles that must
be faced in ASM sector and are directly related to mercury use and other environmental
and health issues. Mandatory is the building and strengthening of institutional and
technical capacity, improving laws and regulations, raising awareness and safeguarding
public health and environment from the impact of those pernicious substances.
In terms of health issues emanated from ASM activities, the five major risks, according to
the ILO are:
 Exposure to dust (silicosis);
 Exposure to mercury and other chemicals;
 The effects of noise and vibrations;
 The effect of poor ventilation (heat, humidity, lack of oxygen);
 The effects of overexertion, inadequate work space and inappropriate equipment.
84
Those risks are in some cases associated with poor equipment and non awareness of
individuals of the nature of them, insufficient awareness of mining and processing related
issues and lack of know-how to reduce them in the operations. Moreover, the poverty in
the ASM sector means that there is a tendency to inadequate or reduced access to
sanitation, to clean water and to basic health care. The overlap of working and living
areas is common in ASM operations and specially in the case of gold processing activities
it is definitely non recommendable. Workers and children are then exposed to multiple
disease threats such as malaria, cholera, tuberculosis and other parasitic infectious
diseases. In fact, improving working conditions of the mineworkers, education and
training program and initiatives in collaboration with international development agencies
must be addressed in the region.
IV.2. Brazilian Small-Scale Mining: Highlighting issues:
As mentioned in the previous section, Small-Scale Mining in developing countries has
noticing importance mainly due to the employment generation. The Table 9 below shows
a figure of small mines in some of the developing countries. In Latin America the SSM
industry plays an important role in national economies, represents a meaningful source of
income and deserves especial and careful attention of governments, associations and
policy makers. Gold and precious stones are the most relevant mineral resources
exploited and encompass multiple actors, conflicting interests and expressive amounts of
money. The non-metallic ASM sector is significant as well and shall not be neglected. This
sector of mining industry includes crushed stone, limestone, construction sand and gravel,
clays, mineral water, phosphate rocks, kaolin, asbestos, dimension stones, industrial sand,
potassium salts, magnesite, among others.
The countries where ASM and SSM operations are present in Latin America include
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala,
Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Guyana, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela. Each of those
countries has their own policies and regulations for the sector. It was estimated that, by
the end of the 1990’s, 1 in 900 Latin Americans were employed in gold and silver artisanal
mining and virtually all countries in Latin America have artisanal miners.
85
Table 13: Small-Scale Mining: number of mines and employment generation in developing countries. Source: UN,
World Bank, 1999.
Table 14: Small-Scale Mining and employment in Latin America. Source: ECLAC, UN, 1996.
86
In the South and Central American zone, small-scale and the other forms of artisanal
mining have always been vulnerable to the instabilities of the market and hence to prices
that fluctuate according to supply and demand of products. The structural unstable nature
of mining market- and particularly metals market- have historically leaded in many cases
to closure of formal operations and reduction of investments in Small-Scale Mining.
The instability of mineral markets is one of the factors that explain the origin of SmallScale Mining in Latin America. When markets fail the first reaction of the producers is to
control costs in order to stay in the market. Nevertheless, if the situation remains in time,
losses become unmanageable and formal operations- with emphasis to the smaller ones,
incapable of making economies of scale- tend to close down and dismiss their workers.
The consequent abandoned mines are them able to be taken over by the fired workers,
who without capital and proper knowledge try to derive a subsistence income from the
same deposits through informal small mining units.
Furthermore, factors such as natural phenomena- droughts, seismic and volcanic events
determining forced displacement of economic activities- and social issues- violent groups
that force whole communities to abandon their homes- drive the search for alternative
forms of subsistence activities and consequently the start up of ASM operations. The
activities originated are usually informal, constantly attracting new people to act as miners
and who are ready to settle in the areas of potential/proven mineral wealth- frequently in
the form of gold, precious stones, coal, stones or construction materials typical of
marginal areas of poverty belts around the capital cities.
In Latin America, some of the reasons for SSM stimulus and increasing operations are:
 Mining geology: the mineral is very abundant- the case of calcareous minerals or
construction materials- deposits are very extensive and the minerals are usually
relatively inexpensive;
 Commercial: the fall of prices generates attempts to form cooperatives, initially in
order to defend the price but subsequently becoming self defense against the
owners of mineral rights;
 Social: when the activity is the only form of work in the area;
87
 Need to supply a limited local demand for minerals and primary materials: those
minerals would be otherwise expensive to import in the minimum volume sold by
international exporters and are then substituted by national small-scale production
on a regular and continuous basis. This context has created mining villages in
many parts of the region, especially for construction materials- but the reality is
also present for coal to supply power plants and for industrial minerals (clays,
limestones, marbles, feldspars and kaolins, which are mined on the outskirts of
cities with growing industries that require those minerals and wish to reduce
transportation costs);
 Exportation intentions: the case of saltpeter, copper and gold in Chile, gold in
Brazil, Colombia and Peru and silver in Mexico. They account for large
percentages of national totals.
SSM and ASM in Latin America can be said to be mainly concerned with four basic
mineral groups:
a) Precious metals: gold, diamond and precious stones;
b) Metallic minerals: copper, zinc and tin;
c) Industrial minerals;
d) Construction materials: kaolins, feldspars, clays of all kinds, sand and gravel.
One feature common to all those mineral activities are the difficulties experienced by the
people engaged in ASM and one of the approaches to conflict solving in the sector is
associations and cooperatives. In those cases, a working group with the aim of mining a
deposit jointly or cooperatively works in a shared mine, becoming a group of
‘garimpeiros’ or ‘pirquineros’. They are so attempting to reduce costs by collective
purchase of inputs, trying to make their work legal and improving their quality of life by
marketing the output.
In order to characterize quantitatively the approximate dimension of small-scale
operations in South and Latin America, it is plausible to look at the Colombian definition
of SSM activities:
88
MINING OPERATIONS: LEVELS OF PRODUCTION-COLOMBIA
Opencast Mining
Underground Mining
TYPES OF
SmallMediumLargeSmallMedium- LargeMINERALS
scale
scale
scale
scale
scale
scale
METALS AND
250.0008.000PRECIOUS
<250.000 1.500.000
> 1.500.000 <8.000
200.000
>200.000
STONES
m3/year
m3/year
m3/year
tons/year tons/year tons/year
180.000<180.000 6.000.000
>6.000.000
3
3
COAL
m /year
m /year(24.0 m3/year(80
30.000(24.000
00-800.000
0.000
<30.000
500.000
>500.000
tons/year) tons/year)
tons/year) tons/year tons/year tons/year
OTHERS (except
100.00030.000construcion
<100.000 1.000.000
>1.000.000 <30.000
500.000
>500.000
materials)
tons/year tons/year
tons/year
tons/year tons/year tons/year
Table 15: Mining in Colombia by scale. Source: CEPAL, 1998.
In Latin America in particular, the gold production and commercialization by SSM
activities is object of special attention and study. In countries including Chile, Bolivia,
Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, expressive part of the gold internally produced is
attributed to Small and Artisanal Mining. Usually, the artisanal miners process the
extracted gold in ore crushers and then amalgamate it with mercury, obtaining metallic
gold rapidly but with low value. The gold marketing, on its side, is commonly dependent
on intermediaries: the gold is sold by the miners at less than the market price to traders
from urban areas (jewelers trying to reduce their costs or intermediaries avoiding taxes) in
the borderline of legal and successively is purchased by customers.
A wide range of mining and mineral processing activities are referred as artisanal mining,
ranging from individual panners to large dredging operations. The terms artisanal and
peasant miners are often applied to make reference to low tech manual gold panners, but
they includes also larger units that use unconventional techniques to gold production. The
definition of artisanal is significantly associated with the way of working: the artisanal
miners work based on instinct, need for feeding his family and surviving; there is usually
no previous “classical” geological exploration, no drilling, no proven reserves, no ore
tonnage establishing and no engineering studies.
The areas of gold production in Latin America have grown expressively in the recent
decades. The new gold rush, in Latin America started in the 1980’s and has involved
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millions of people who became artisanal miners to escape from social marginalization. It
is possible to estimate that over 1 million artisanal miners are currently mining for gold in
Latin America with possible annual productions of up to 200 tonnes (6,4 Moz) of gold
[26]. Apparently more than 200.000 women are participating in the labour force of ASM
as individual panners, cooks or owners of mining operations. The paucity of alluvial ores
in Brazilian Amazon have pushed part of ‘garimpeiros’ to invade neighboring countriesGuyana, French Guyana, Bolivia, Venezuela and Suriname- creating diplomatic problems.
In Brazil, the Mining Law of 1967 defined ‘garimpagem’ (artisanal activities) as “individual
work performed by panners; rudimentary form of mining using manual or portable
equipment; mining process to be applied only to alluvial, colluvial and elluvial deposits”.
Nevertheless, in the 1980’s and 1990’s, ‘garimpagem’ became more mechanized, with
external investment and employees. The activity is associated with primary and secondary
ores and with gold, diamond, cassiterite, tantalite and wolframite minerals and is legally
only accepted in especial authorized reserves (‘Reservas Garimpeiras’) and conditioned to
a special permit to work (‘Lavra Garimpeira’ permit). The migratory features is a
peculiarity of the activity, while the exigency of the permit has privileged the most
organized miners since to obtain the permit the miner must present an elaborated report
on Environment Impact Assessment.
The geological characteristic of the deposit and the features of the ore body delimit the
type of useful technique to be employed. The nature of the geological formation and the
operation size are however vague concepts to define what sorts of minerals can be mined
by artisanal methods. In South America there are operations with capacity to process over
5 million m3 of ore annually using rudimentary methods. The artisanal face of the mining
operation is characterized by lack of control in mining and processing techniques and to
define a mining activity as artisanal it is essential to identify who are the stakeholders and
workers involved; how technically and economically skilled is the individual or mining
company; the grade of mechanization employed; the mining plan established; and the
technical approach to extract minerals.
Analyzing the North American context, in Canada and in the United States there are
thousands of miners applying their own mining and processing knowledge to extract gold
from placers, characterized in several cases by informal status and sometimes using
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mercury to amalgamate concentrates. In spite of that figure, an insignificant gold
production is officially attributed to these “invisible” miners and most of them have
private companies. Although the operations represent a relevant potential for jobs and
wealth, they are not positively received in institutions representing organized mining
society. The peculiar lack of planning related to the activities frequently provokes high
turnover of professionals and constant financial problems. In North America there are
also artisanal miners called gold prospectors- geochemical explorers who use
concentration techniques to evaluate gold content in stream sediments with the primary
intention of staking claims to sell to mining companies- and the week-end panners.
The expression artisanal miners is trendily used to encompass small, medium, large,
informal, legal and illegal miners who use rudimentary processes to extract gold from
secondary and primary ore bodies (being this second category of hard exploitation by
artisanal miners without technical support and investment). In South and Central
America, the artisanal miners have different denominations, sometimes with negative
connotations. For instance, in Brazil, the term ‘garimpeiros’ derives from thieves of caves
(‘grimpas’). The word was after improperly referred to individual panners who for three
centuries have tried to make their fortune or even to survive from the river gravels or
surface gold ores. In the formal language, ‘garimpeiro’ is used to refer to artisanal miners;
‘garimpo’ is the worksite or village where artisanal miners work and even live and
‘garimpagem’ is the mining activity conducted by ‘garimpeiros’. The terms ‘mineros
artesanales’(artisanal miners) and ‘pequenos mineros’(small miners) are widely used in the
Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America- terms such as ‘barequeros’, in Colombia,
‘chichiqueros’, in Peru, and ‘pirquineros’, in Chile and Argentina, are as well used.
The economic structure of an artisanal operation is typically capitalist: maximum profit
and minimum investments goals are always present. The organization created is
characterized by a kind of hierarchy- by duties and rights for all participants, being the
boss the main investor who hires employees or share part of his/her production with the
workers. There are different types of people hidden behind professional categories.
In the environmental field, protests from international environmental groups have led
Latin American governments to enforce law about miners. Artisanal miners are for
developing world’s societies sometimes a contrasting activity: although it has been
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absolutely coherent with the awkward developing policies adopted by governments from
the 1980’s, it is opposed to the idea of modernity and efficient pursued by the dominant
society.
The Brazilian mineral extraction industry is an important socioeconomic activity to the
national economy and income and employment generation. While discussing the
dynamics of SSM and ASM operations within the country, the most debated theme is
Artisanal Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) and the so-called ‘garimpos’ or informal,
artisanal, environmentally impacting and labour intensive gold extracting activities mainly
developed in Amazon territories. In the case of Brazil, in the period from 1979 to 1984
the Brazilian Government has fomented the ‘garimpos’, creating an area of approximately
3,2 million hectares (ha). Currently the area occupied by ‘garimpos’ is over 16 million
hectares, mainly in the Amazon zone (more than half of that total is localized in the
northern State of Para) [27].
The contemporary gold rush in Latin America is considered to be started in January 1980
in Brazil when a solitary panner found gold in Serra Pelada, in the Amazon region. The
zone has become than a historical landmark and a social phenomenon: the government
intervened in the zone and created the first artisanal mining reserve, encouraging people
to move there. At the beginning, approximately 80.000 miners were working in Serra
Pelada for producing 90 tonnes of gold from a single open pit mine in a large and
unregulated gold rush, originating innumerous conflicts and using all the imaginable
technologies from wooden sluice to bioleaching. The open pit has afterwards been
flooded and in the 1990’s less than 800 miners struggled to survive by reprocessing gold
tailings. Around 2000 mining sites were worked by artisanal miners in 1990 in the Legal
Brazilian Amazonia, being responsible for the highest steel consumption per capita in
Latin America as well as diesel oil and other goods. The production of about 100 tonnes
of gold in that year demanded more than 25000 units of mining equipment, 20
helicopters, 750 airplanes and 10.000 boats. The environmental costs were therefore
utterly high, including deforestation, river silting, invasion of indigenous reserves, mercury
poisoning, diseases, degradation of moral standards, depletion of non-renewable sources
and soil destruction.
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The operation of ‘garimpos’ or so-called ‘garimpagem’ is an opencast mining activity,
taking place in forests or in rivers’ banks. Consequently, miners are subjected to direct
contact with the nature- its physical (sun, rain, wind, noise, etc.), biological (vectors and
parasites), chemical (clays, detergents, gasoline and oils) and social aspects (low life quality
and adverse work conditions). Nonetheless, workers are also subjected to the aggressive
effects caused by mercury. The seasonality is as well a factor that influences the
production intensity and thus the workers’ exposition to mercury which is higher in the
summer.
The ‘garimpos’ are characterized by the three elements common to all production
processes- the object: gold, extracted from grottos, rocks or river sediments; the
instruments: machines, excavators, pumps, mills, etc; the work: energy spent by the miner
to transform the raw material in marketable gold. The gold production by ‘garimpos’ can
be divided in four phases: 1) Infrastructure preparation (for mining and living); 2)
hydraulic removal of the raw material (one worker removes the material from slopes with
a power water jet and another worker sucks the material with a suction pump); 3) gold
concentration (with mercury insertion); 4) gold burning (the mercury is volatilized from
the amalgam under high thermal action and the gold remains as final product). Mercury is,
indeed, a really inexpensive reagent to extract gold.
A variety of mining and amalgamation methods are used in artisanal mining operations.
When the whole ore is amalgamated the mercury losses can be as high as 3 times the
amount of gold produced. Whether only gold concentrates are amalgamated, the main
source of mercury emission is the burning of amalgam in open pans. The process
produces a gold sponge containing about 20 g of mercury per kg of gold which is released
when this gold is melted at gold shops. Studies have shown that the majority of Hg
emitted by gold smelters is deposited near the emission source (i.e. within 1 km),
contaminating urban areas. Considering a ratio of 1:1 for gold produced and mercury lost,
an approximate estimate of the mercury levels being emitted in Latin American countries
is obtained and might be around 200 tonnes of mercury annually. Therefore, since the
beginning of the new gold boom in Latin America, at the end of 1970’s to the present,
around 5.000 tonnes of mercury might have been discharged into the forests and urban
areas [26]. The high content of organic acids in sediments and waters favors oxidation of
93
metallic mercury dumped by miners into the water streams or precipitated from the
atmosphere. The problem is then that soluble Hg-organic complexes transform into
methyl-mercury which is rapidly taken up by species in aquatic environments. Symptoms
of mercury poisoning are consequently detected in miners, gold dealers and citizens living
near the emission sources. Despite the fact that some miners are still amalgamating the
whole ore, the use of mercury to extract gold only from gravity concentrates represents an
important evolution to reduce mercury losses. Reduction of mercury emission must be
proceeded and is a feasible and practical way to cope with the problem in Latin America.
Figure 35: Gold extraction in Amazon, Brazil: the presence of ‘Garimpo’ .Source: CETEM.
To summarize the Artisanal Mining issue in Brazil and other developing countries, plenty
questions should be discussed and attacked:
 The possibility to accommodate this sort of informal economy in controlled and
organized fashion;
 Ways to integrate ASM in sustainable environment;
 Proper establishment of legal frameworks to administer mining activities and settle
formal small companies;
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 Directing the activity to poverty reduction and providing it with order;
 Technical-economic support provision to allow less environment-impacting
extraction and processing processes;
 The identification of potentially amenable areas for ASM and SSM;
 Focus on education, training and gender issues and opportunities;
 Cooperative work with international organizations and institutes;
 Promotion of local credit facilities and partnership arrangements with the
domestic and foreign private sector;
 Environmental responsibility and occupational safety issues.
V.3. Non metallic, Industrial Minerals and Dimension Stones extractive sectors in
Brazil:
While the Artisanal and Small Gold and precious stones mining are indeed approached by
the public opinion and recurrent object of study of experts in Brazil, the non-metallic
mineral resources, although albeit indispensable to meet the needs of the Brazilian
population and for exportation, have been historically ill-favored by governments and
sometimes neglected by the public. The major part of those resources are mined and
processed by small-scale companies and informal operations. The current situation is of
overlooking of non-metallic mineral production in Brazil, since no commodity produced
in this sector of the extractive industry dominates the export or import mineral list in the
country. Non-metallic small-scale mines are both individually and family-operated, many
of them facing rudimentary techniques [28].
The environmental impacts associated with this sector of the mining industry are less
intense than the ones related to metallic minerals and fuels- because operations primarily
occur on a micro-scale and generally do not release toxic residues- but tend to be more
extensive. However, preventing environmental impacts in the sector has often proven to
be onerous due to the overabundance of operations and their widespread distribution.
In terms of production, a large part of the non-metallic output in Brazil is produced and
consumed locally without tax payments and many of the operations is not registered by
the governmental competent institutions. As a consequence, the current production is
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actually larger than the documented one and exceeds the production value of most
segments of Brazilian minerals industry, including metal, energy and gems- in a country
where although two percent of the GDP is related to minerals production, the value of
the economic activities that depend on minerals for raw material inputs account for
approximately one third of the national GDP.
Industrial minerals are essential because they play an important role in Brazilian society in
sectors such as infrastructure, transportation, sanitation, housing and hydroelectric
energy, which rely upon locally mined construction materials (e.g. aggregates, sand, gravel)
and dimension stones. The non-metallic mineral sector include diverse commodities:
crushed stone; limestone; construction sand and gravel; clays; mineral water; phosphate
rocks; kaolin; asbestos; dimension stones; industrial sand; potassium salts and magnesite.
An important part of the production is attributed to minerals used in civil construction,
where informal and Small-Scale Mining is a noticeable reality: in some areas entire families
are engaged in mining aggregates, in some cases breaking rock with hammers without any
mechanical assistance and stone being crushed by hand.
In fact, in Brazil the majority of the mines are classified as ‘small’. According to the
Mineral Brazilian Summary, the small-scale mines represent about 73% of the total
number:
MINE SCALE
SMALL
MEDIUM
LARGE
Annual production % of the total number of mines
<100000 t/year
73%
<1000000 t/year
22,20%
----4,80%
Table 11: Mining in Brazil by scale. Source: DNPM, 2002.
The small-scale mines encompass more industrialized and environmentally controlled
operations, but also the ones facing inadequate technology, primitive techniques, minimal
capital and environmental burdens. The use of rudimentary technologies and nonsustainable models of mining have as drawbacks:
 Environmental degradation, deforestation, reduction of fauna and flora
biodiversity and loss of soil fertility;
 Mining scars and negative heritage from operations;
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 Pollution of surface waters by sediments or toxic effluents, mainly mercury;
 Tailings of all ores, which continue to pollute water, soils and air;
 Alteration of the flow and deteriorated quality of groundwater;
 Destruction of dunes for construction sand in the Northeast, and industrial sand
in the Southeast;
 Air pollution by dust or gases from processing plants;
 Social conflicts and impacts;
 Abandoned and non reclaimed areas after intensive mining;
 Vibration, noise and fragments’ projection caused by explosives;
 Visual pollution and alteration of original relief shapes.
Figure 36: Locations of important non-metallic Small-Scale Mining regions in Brazil. Source: AKIMOTO, H.;
FREIRE, D.J.A.M.; MACEDO, A.B (2003).
97
In spite of being ASM and SSM mostly oriented towards high value minerals, a recent
figure in Brazilian mineral scenario is that industrial minerals have started to receive some
attention. Policy makers are currently considering the contribution of ASSM for national
economy as income distribution driver amongst poor communities [29], although socioenvironmental impacts are meaningful features for governments and society. A major
shift is in progress in the sense of supporting and establishing positive relations with
ASSM operations at national level, achieving results in some regions of the country and
pushed by backgrounds conditions:
 Micro and small enterprises are playing an increasing role in the economy of the
country;
 A strong commitment of the present Federal Government to poverty alleviation
and job generation;
 Natural and mineral resources considerable weight for a positive external trade
balance;
 New ASSM activities such as dimension and ornamental stones are rising at high
rates and spreading throughout the country.
As a consequence of those facts, the national government has set a new industrial policy
in 2004 containing tools, terms and definitions to allow strong support to small and
medium enterprises- with emphasis to pre-delimited mineral production sites. The
initiative includes the creation and proposing of new funds, technical and educational help
to improve ways of organization and production to reach better technical, market and
socio-environmental standards. The terminology of mineral production sites have also
been changed- before pejoratively called ‘garimpos’ (associated with informality and
illegality), the operations are now named ‘mineral-based local clusters’ or ‘arranjos
produtivos locais de base mineral’, from the moment that prove to be socially and
regionally essential activities supporting less wealthy communities.
The new industrial policy determines objectives and tools to enhance small and medium
enterprises (SMEs) competitive conditions, especially for those located in predefined
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clusters sites. Presently many mineral clusters have been identified through the Brazilian
territory.
Figure 37: Locations of important mineral clusters in Brazil. Source: PEIFER, C; VILLAS BOAS, R.C. (2008).
The formulation and application of policies and measurements to enable Small-Scale
Mining and quarrying operations should therefore be assumed as one of the fundamental
steps in national mineral Brazilian policies, in a country where mining has always been a
key-element for economy at international and national terms and where mining sector is
an essential pillar of economic panorama.
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CHAPTER 5: CASE STUDY-ITALIAN DIMENSION STONES’
SMALL-SCALE QUARRYING
V.1. Study area: Rorà & Luserna small-scale quarries:
V.1.a) “Luserna Stone”: Geographic, Geological, Historic Overview and uses:
The studied area is the so-called mineral basin of Luserna and Rorà, situated in the Turin
province, in Piedmont, Italy. The zone is characterized by the extraction of the “Luserna
Stone”, metamorphic schistose gray gneiss.
In fact, the dimension stone quarries cluster is situated in the geographic zone of Pellice
valley, a short groove valley located in Piedmont, Northern Alps. Its length is of about 30
km from the Alps, which borders the ‘Queyras French’ and the ‘Piedmont southern plain’
of the province of Turin, fifty-kilometers far. The area is bordered to the North and
Northeast to ‘Val Chisone’, northwest with the watershed of division of the ‘Germanasca
Valley’, to the east with the ‘Pinerolo plain’ and on the south by the ridge separation of
the ‘Guil Valley’. Converges with the ‘Po’, ‘Varaita’ and ‘French Guil Valleys’, towards the
‘Massif of Monviso’, whose summit (3841 meters) is the central point of a set of ridges
arranged almost radially. The municipalities that are part of this mountain community are
‘Bobbio Pellice’, ‘Villar Pellice’, ‘Torre Pellice’, ‘Angrogna’, ‘Rorà’, ‘Luserna San Giovanni’
and ‘Lusernetta’. The total population of the valley stands at about 22750 inhabitants [32].
The quarries here studied are mainly located in ‘Rorà’ and ‘Luserna San Giovanni’
municipalities. The first has a small territory of about 13 km 2 and circa 967 m height and
is 7 km distant from the latter one, the most populated municipality in the ‘Pellice Valley’,
with about 7960 inhabitants and the most relevant economic center in the territory.
Relevant aspects of the regional morphology can be attributed to the changing climate
conditions (from tropical to glacial from the interglacial stages during post-glacial eras),
which have allowed the formation of a quaternary layer that covers the underlying
lithologies; floods deposited by streams water; as well as lakes and marsh, debris deposits
and recent geological landslides. Important aspect as well related to the morphology is the
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visual impact due to the mining activity, which in recent years has greatly increased its
production (mainly visual and environmental impacts resulting from the quarries’
activities and inert deposits in the mountain zone). In the area of the studied quarries
there are no particular landslides activities, guarantying an overall stability of the bedrock.
Figure 38: Location of ‘Luserna’, ‘Rorà’ and ‘Bagnolo’ dimension stone quarries. Source: Google Earth.
Figure 39: ‘Pelice Valley’: the geographic zone of the dimension stone quarries.
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Figure 40: Panorama of the quarries studied located in ’Rorà’ and ‘Luserna’ municipalities. Source: Google Earth.
The mineral extractive basin of the “Luserna Stone” is geologically part of the ‘DoraMaira’ formation and the extracted gneiss results from the process of metamorphic and
structural formation of an originally magmatic rock of the late ‘Hercynian age’, owning
granitic chemistry. The valley basin has indeed two distinct tectonic units: the ‘DoraMaira’ and the ‘Piedmont basin’, being the border of these units defined by an imaginary
line oriented roughly in North-South direction. The ‘Dora-Maira complex’ emerges in the
intern part of the Alps’ arch, between the ‘Maira’ and ‘Susa’ and represents an area of
continental crust, accumulated by rocks formed by compaction of seabed about 300
million years ago.
The “Luserna Stone” is therefore the result of metamorphic and structural alpine
transformations taken place about 130 and 65 million years ago of a granitic rock. The
described transformations justify the peculiar rock’s characteristics: the planar structures
(foliations) and linear structures (linearity), which offer privileged directions for the
extraction and workability of the stone- in fact, the most easily divisible face (‘superficie di
pioda’) generally coincides with schistosity plane and the second preferable detach surface
(‘trincante’) usually is originated by the plan normal to the foliation and due to the
linearity.
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Two main families of normal persistent discontinuities can be identified in the geological
zone and also some additional joint families. The first one is characterized by the
cataclastic bands opened even some meters, filled with detritus or clays. The second one
is composed of fails superiorly opened and filled with clays or breaches. Joint families
with variable orientation and with cleavage planes are tectonically originated and vary
from quarry to quarry and even inside the extractive unit. The tectonic dynamics has also
originated intercalations inside the rock composed by mica-schists and gneisses and also
gave birth to the Mesozoic surface horizons, justifying the notable thick of the geological
complex, varying from hundreds of meters till 700 meters locally.
From the petrography’s standpoint, the “Luserna Stone” is characterized by regular
elongated feldspar eyes of dimensions smaller than the millimeter and is composed mainly
from feldspar (30-50%), quartz (30-40%)- of variable thickness, from grain very fine to
coarse- and white and greenish mica (10-20%), which is responsible for the peculiar light
gray color with greenish highlights. The texture of the rock is ground-schist, due to the
presence of thin beds rich in white mica parallel or sub parallel to the schitosity. The
stone is thus a particularly chemically and mineralogy homogeneous rock with
subordinate whitish faces hardly distinguishable.
In terms of application, the “Luserna Stone” has been subdivided in two main varieties:
 Gneiss with feldspar eyes very dense, usually evidentially deformed, with markedly
schistose structure and easily divisibility in plates. The thickness is in general of a
few centimeters and suitable for natural split processing;
 Gneiss with less dense and less elongated feldspar eyes, with less visible schistose
planes characterized by poor or absent detachability, demanding frame sawing.
The primary use of the "Luserna Stone" has always been the Alpine roofing with an
excellent performance of insulation and frost- for the same reason it is more often used
to pave the streets and squares. While at one time in the History could only be used the
banks that flaked naturally, now, thanks to modern technology, the massif banks are also
workable. Thanking to appropriate technologies, "Luserna Stone" can now be moreover
polished or flamed- in large slabs like those for granite- emphasizing all its beauty, with its
predominantly blue color.
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An evolution of the buyers’ trends nowadays allows the offering of the "Luserna Stone"
in different thicknesses and natural colors, along with the traditional shades of gray and
bluish and working alongside the classic split. Secondary uses are as waste material (stone
blocks for quarries’ roads and banks), the strengthening of river banks or the creation of
cliffs in place of stingrays of concrete (breakwater). The "Luserna Stone" is known for
more than a century both for its esthetic than that for unlimited duration. A consistent
use of the "Luserna Stone "is for the outside of buildings in the classic measures of 20 x
40 cm or 40 x 80 cm. Other uses are curbs, sidewalks, blocks, external stairs and
everything able to be created according to the ‘rustic alpine style’, which fits today with
the post-modern or minimalist architecture. Given the already strong presence of an
"induced stone zone" in the area of production, all the processes required by the
customers can be performed in a short time, in relation to the most modern
manufacturing techniques and the highest standards.
In ‘Pellice Valley’ the cultivation of ornamental stone deposits is documented by the
medieval period, with the recognition of Commons by the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa
in 1183, after which has been established the principle of free access to the quarries for
whoever they discovered new ones. The “Luserna Stone” has the extraction documented
by the mid-seventeenth century, been used as a building material since ancient times- as
element for masonry. The typical working was- and partially still remains- the splitting
blocks into slabs and their subsequent squaring products in urban paving products (plates,
sidewalk curbs, etc.), for building itself (balcony slabs, corbels, steps, etc.) and for cover
(the famous lose roof) and building monuments. The “Luserna Stone” was abundantly
used later for the prestigious centuries-old building in the capital of Savoy, Turin. In the
nineteenth century, thanks to the new railway, the use of the “Luserna Stone” in Turin
reached its historical maximum. The activity of cultivation and processing the stone is
strongly linked an important part of cultural identity. To a large extent were the ‘valdesi’
the quarrymen which improved the techniques for the material cultivation. In the past
“Luserna Stone” used to be considered a poor material. But the status-quo changed when,
in the nineteenth century, a famous architect, Alessandro Antonelli, used the stone in its
most daring and admirable work: the ‘Mole Antonelliana’ (Turin’s historical symbol).
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More generally, it appears that, in the period between the two World Wars in the
twentieth century, 90% of the stairs and sidewalks of Turin were made of “Luserna
Stone”. As of the end of the 1960’s, the introduction of the sawing frame and diamond
disc has innovated deeply the production process. Currently, blocks that are healthy and
compact- and therefore unsuitable for the split- are subjected to sawing, while the plates
are flamed, antiqued and polished. Even the secondary division of the plates, as well as
the machining costs, is now fully carried with the aid of mechanical equipment and/or
numerical control and using diamond tools. Important works in “Luserna Stone” were
performed as well as in many Italian cities, even in many European and non-European
countries, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Thailand and Australia.
Figure 41: Typical commercial slab of “Luserna Stone”.
V.1.b) Dimension stone small-scale quarries: Profile and Panorama:
The dimension stone mineral basin of ‘Luserna’ and ‘Rorà’ is economically structured in a
set of small-scale quarries practically neighboring located in the valley/mountain zone.
The quarrying activity can generally be described as deposits cultivated in overlapping
pitch disposition with prevalent sub-horizontal arrangements. The banks have thickness
of a few meters and are cultivated in steps- forming the so-called benches- enjoying, when
available, the natural stone slabs and laterally cutting the benches size with diamond wire
sawing or with explosive (cultivation method named ‘Dynamic Splitting’). To the latter
technique is however always entrusted the function of thrust detachment in the primary
cut.
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The excavation method is through descendent yard work, until allowing to set a retreat of
the front, that is, discovering a new slice upstream to reassume then the decreasing levels
progressively from top to bottom, in respect of borders with neighboring lots. The typical
configuration of the slots is therefore "open" to long "courses" and with yards more or
less aligned with the adjacent squares, traveled from the frontal common service track.
The access to the pits is allowed from the service’s sloped ways, and the achievement of
the upstream part of the residue excavation front- for controlling the preparation of the
setbacks - happens with secondary road ways.
Landfills are exerted mostly by consortium- being therefore managed unitarily but used
together by more quarries, which participate in the design, implementation and
management processes. The criterion of centralization is considered well-established for
the technical advantages and environmental offering, avoiding waste of space, of
operational resources and strengthening recovery interventions.
The mining operations have been currently conducted supplemented by the design
information provided by planning documents (DPAE, at regional level; PAEP at
provincial level) with the aim of enabling the effective exploitation of the mineral
resource of second category, in accordance with the requirements of territory protection
and environmental laws.
At regional scale, the traditional importance of the stone industry in Piedmont in
comparison with itss domestic productive sector is confirmed in the current extractions
of stone, whether performed in the most important basins in areas of Piedmont, in the
newly opened quarries, or at least in the recent recovery mining activities. Since 2008,
however, with the economic crisis and its severe impacts in the Italian and European
Economy, the quarry activity has been notably affected and levels of production have
been decreasing as a consequent drawback of socio-economic weakened standards. By the
year of 2005, there were about 225 dimension stone quarries in Piedmont [33].
Nevertheless, there has been a sharp reduction when compared to the past decades but
with progressive improvements in the extractive techniques employed and an increasing
mechanization.
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In addition, in the year 2005 the number of people directly employed in the Piedmont
quarries was circa 650 people- beyond other 1520 people who worked in the stone
transportation from the quarry to the sawing processing facilities and also the workers in
the sawing facilities and laboratories. By that year, in the mineral basin studied quarries are
(‘Luserna- Infernotto’) there were the following figures in terms of productive structure,
quarries’ compressive production and laboratory processing:
DIMENSION STONE QUARRIES: MINERAL BASIN "LUSERNA INFERNOTTO"
PRODUCTIVE STRUCTURE
ENTERPRISES
QUARRIES
LABORATORIES
NUMB EMPLOYE
NUMBE
ER
ES
NUMBER
EMPLOYEES
R
EMPLOYEES
43
337
52
108
41
250
QUARRY PRODUCTION
MASS FOR
LITHO NATURAL PROCESSING RAMPS AND
TOTAL
TYPE
SPLIT
MATERIAL
ROADS LIMITS
EXCAVATED SCRAP
cubic meters cubic meters
cubic meters
cubic meters
%
Gneiss
55.521
28.355
70.644
212.903
23
LABORATORY PRODUCTION
BLOCKS SLABS
MOSAIC
CUBES
KERBSTONES
cubic
cubic
meters
cubic meters
cubic meters
meters
equivalent equivalent
equivalent
cubic meters equivalent
5.240
20.747
31.836
2.169
12.848
MATERIAL ORIGIN IN THE LABORATORY OWNED BY LOCAL QUARRIES
OWN QUARRIES
OTHER QUARRIES
INTERNA
NATIONAL TIONAL
LOCAL
REGIONAL (cubic
(cubic
(cubic
cubic meters
(cubic meters) meters)
meters)
meters)
68.675
4.164
0
0
0
MATERIAL DESTINATION IN THE LABORATORY OWNED BY LOCAL
QUARRIES
INTERNA
NATIONAL TIONAL
Mineral Basin:
LOCAL
REGIONAL (cubic
(cubic
(cubic
Luserna-Infernotto (cubic meters) meters)
meters)
meters)
25.980
30.644
12.169
4.064
Table 16: Compressive Data- Luserna quarries. Source: [33].
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Comprehending the municipalities of ‘Rorà’, ‘Luserna’, ‘Bagnolo’ and ‘Villar Perosa’ there
are about fifth active extractive units. During the 1990’s the overall production of the
quarries mineral cluster was of about 250-300 tons/year. In 1998 a research conducted in
the zone showed that the total amount of extracted material was of about 213.000 cubic
meters, being 32% of naturally split rock; 13% of material to be sawed; 22% of blocks for
ramps and roads’ limits; and 22% of scrap (to be put in the quarries’ landfill). Out of that
total amount, 84% was located in the ‘Bagnolo Piemonte’ municipality, 10% in ‘Luserna
San Giovanni’ municipality, circa 5% in ‘Rorà’ and 1% in ‘Villar Perosa’.
The extractive units are generally really small, part of them family-managed (2 or 3 out of
16 quarries researched), with few employees working in usually one or two lots- the
official average number of employees/quarry was of 2,11 in the beginning of the 2000’s.
It is noticeable, moreover, the employment of occasional and marginal manpower and
about 6 workers/laboratory- out of a number of about 40 laboratories owned by the
quarry properties. Indeed, to the sawing processing facilities is transported the
commercial material, detached from the deposits in benches, in their turn reversed and
cut or sub-divided till obtaining workable blocks. Standard blocks (dimensions 3,4 x 1,5 x
1,7m) might be sold even out of the regional perimeter to large-scale processing
companies in Verona and Carrara.
The extractive operations in the ‘Rorà’ municipality, for instance, in spite of being size
limited when compared to the overall reserve available in the compressive mineral basin,
employed in 2005 [33] about 30% of the active resident population. The quarries activities
are also related to the actual local demographic fluxes. In terms of relevance to the local
economic dynamics, it is necessary to consider that the quarrymen are required to pay a
sum for the rental of quarry lots- most of them of municipal property- and for the
excavation right. Nevertheless, the economic importance of the small-scale quarrying
activity goes beyond those simple figures as the extractive industrial activity consists on
the essential socio-economic network in a mountain area without worthy alternative
economic activities and which would otherwise be destined to meaningful depopulation.
The quarrying activity allows the survival of both family-based and artisanal small-scale
enterprises (most prevalent where there are only quarries with quantitative and
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qualitatively limited production), and also more industrialized quarrying operations (larger
amount of extracted rock and processing plants of considerable size).
Currently, the economic importance of extracting the “Luserna Stone” is not restricted to
the municipalities and local perimeters, but has involved the areas placed in the immediate
vicinity- encompassing, as already mentioned, the ‘Torrente Pellice valley’ and the
‘Pinerolo plain’, where there are present many processing facilities for the extracted
blocks, artisanal laboratories and sawing centers.
The purpose of the presented study is to idealize and construct an adequate, simple and
manageable framework to assess, monitor and develop the Small-Scale Quarries in an
efficient, productive and sustainable way (in a long-term perspective).
When analyzing the overall features of the studied quarries in the ‘Luserna’/’Rorà’ mineral
basin (by the year of 2012 circa 200 lots of quarries exist in the zone, comprehending
about 70 companies), it is fundamental to point the main technical, environmental, social
and economic figures:
1) Technologic intensity: can be considered generally as low to medium technology
intensive. There is, nonetheless, a not negligible variety of mechanization and
business scale among the quarries. The mineral SMEs vary from artisanal and
family-based structures- and consequently with limited technological use and poor
standard of management- to more technological mineral companies- and therefore
owning sometimes modern machines and certain technological expertise with even
two or three diamond wire saws for primary block cut.
The dimension stone in the region is a fine grain gneiss and splitting the block
occurs usually through the use of D&B (‘Drill & Blasting’) techniques, employing
detonation cords (with pentrite core) or, when facing delicate or particular
excavation front surface, the diamond wire saw. Note: In fact, almost none of the
local quarries own a diamond wire saw and whether the machine must be used it is
usually lent from the more technologically intensive quarries.
The blocks are detached and afterwards toppled usually with the use of hydraulic
excavators.
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Dumpers are not used in the studied quarries. Hydraulic excavators and block
cutters are employed, while the first ones are commonly used to take the extracted
blocks and load them with their bench on the camions that transport the blocks to
be sold or to the sawing processing facility for few kilometers (circa 40-50km).
For the operations of squaring and the execution of the horizontal holes are
employed hydraulic drills, given the greater manoeuvrability, the containment
system of the powders and the high drilling speed compared to the block cuttersthese have, however, a greater accuracy in holes of great length, for which they are
employed. The block cutter, in fact, have a greater installed power that ensures a
reduced deviation for the same strength of the rock, and is characterized by slower
drilling times and appropriate for the careful execution of the vertical blast holes,
whose rectilinear up to bottom hole ensures a better distribution of the explosive,
and then the more accurate detachment of the rock. The pneumatic drills are taken
only for the execution of small holes along the length of the so-called ‘veins’.
2) Environmental impact: the environmental burdens related to the quarrying activity
can be assumed to be moderate. In spite of the mineral SMEs trend of not being
environmentally and ecologically engaged and of the fact that not significant
technical innovation has been witnessed from the part of small-scale quarries in
the zone, it cannot be said that environmental impacts associated with the local
quarrying activity is hugely expressive. The necessity to comply with local, regional
and national rules and laws; the required periodic environmental studies (S.I.A., for
instance); and the provincial taxation and control force the quarries to respect
minimum environmental standards to be able to keep operating in the zone.
As examples of initiatives to improve environmental performance in the quarries it
is possible to mention:
 Presence of a system for suction of the drilling dust and successive
recuperation;
 The common landfill for rock scraps controlled by consortium, improving
management levels of quarries’ residues;
On the other hand, the most environmental impacting features emanating from
the operations include:
110
 Possible water and air pollution as a result of solid residues from cutting
operations;
 Air pollution resulting from dust- associated with drilling;
 Air pollution resulting and toxic gases emission from explosives’ smoke;
 Noise pollution;
 Vibration problems resulted from explosives use, which is however
reduced as the inhabited areas are not so close to the quarries;
 Visual impact in the mountain area resulting of the many dimension stone
quarries adjacently operating.
3) Social impact: firstly, a positive point to mention is job generation and
employment in the zone. An important issue that has recently emerged is
related to the manpower that has experienced an increase in the percentage of
foreign population inflow. Initially almost exclusively composed by local
population, although local communities still are the main source of employees
for the quarries, now the presence of extra-European Union personnel such as
Romanian and Chinese is stronger and, summed to the recent economic crisis,
has been provoking recurrent complains by the local residents. That could be a
threat for the businesses and conflicts could unsettle the Social License to
Operate.
Another recent source of social conflict has been the complaints by citizens
who are not directly benefited by the quarrying activity and, therefore, are not
able to realize a concrete social or economic return from the mining operations
at local scale- the profits of the quarrying operation is not in general traduced
in social progress or better standard and quality of life for local communities.
One interesting point related to the small-scale quarries analyzed is the
presence of a Consortium: an association among the quarrymen which is
responsible for building ramps, roads, walls, landfill and other common
infrastructure, and for managing the local dynamics- for instance establishing
with the producer company the contract for the explosive and its price. Each
company has a number of votes proportional to its number of lots. The
drawback of the organizational model is that each quarryman tends to stand
111
for his own interests, according to his principles and demands. Consequently, it
is hard to join together workers in a cooperative thinking. A worthy measure
would be the one of extending Consortium’s competences also to the matter of
commercialization of the “Luserna Stone”, allowing quarries to have more
stable prices and more constant demand- combating part of market’s failure
mechanisms and assuring a more steady level of production and selling.
4) Economic impact: The studied quarries are all of them formal operations, what
is a positive feature. The use of the mineral deposit is not really efficient, with a
mining recovery of about 50% of dimension stone in blocks. The use of drill
and blasting through the ‘Dynamic Splitting’ technique is the main reason for
the limited recovery, in spite of being a cheaper alternative when compared to
the diamond wire sawing one.
The most concerning and recent economic issue in the dimension stone
quarries is , furthermore, the economic crisis started in 2008, that has reduced
production levels and impacted negatively blocks’ selling. The current quarries’
material’s stocks are elevated, having reached high historical levels.
The “Luserna Stone” is predominantly sold at local and regional level
(Piedmont). However, the blocks are in part sold to France, Switzerland and
highlighting commercial percentage is attributed to Russia, while reduced
purchases are noticed by the part of Germany.
A new trend in the ‘Luserna’/’Rorà’ mineral basin, which has also introduced a
certain local socioeconomic instability, is the purchasing of local quarrying
enterprises by foreign businessmen- Russian and Chinese, for instance- who
acquire the quarries originally owned and operated by local people. The largescale companies’ invasion and the growing presence of eternal investors have
created an actual worry in the region.
Insistent complaints within the local citizens is due to the money and taxes
which emanate from quarrying operations but which are not transparently or
adequately used to create public infrastructure, nor positively invested in their
common patrimony.
112
When analyzing Small Mining or Small Quarrying, one of the main difficulties is to define
the terms. Clear is that the Small Mining concept is also dependent on regional context,
cultural and social parameters. In the ‘Luserna’/’Rorà’ mineral basin, a typical small-scale
quarrying cluster, the diversity of operations is however important. Parameters such as
number of employees, profit, production (or output levels) and operational and
investment costs are crucial. The quality of the mineral deposit in the specific quarry lot
influences the profitability of the business as well as the techniques to be employed and
the production levels established.
Attempting to characterize the zone of interest, a set of quarries has been selected and
studied to define the general profile of the small quarrying operation. Five companies
have participated in the research (with their respective operative lots), totalizing 8
extractive units or lots. A prospect of study parameters and relevant features of the
quarries have been defined and specific questionnaires and interviews have been carried
out to build a panoramic view of the small quarries nature and then assess the businesses.
Table 17:. Researched quarries- ‘Luserna’ and ‘Rorà’ dimension stone small-scale quarrying.
The quarrying method is for all the quarries the descendent pit, extracting the stone
through the ‘Dynamic Splitting’ technique.
The following characteristics and aspects of the quarries have been researched through
internal interviews in the quarries and are described below:
 Explosive use;
 Number of detonators;
 Levels of production;
113
 Mining recovery and percentage of commercial blocks;
 Estimated reserves;
 Machines and vehicles;
 Number and profile of employees;
QUARRY
Prà del Torno
Spinafoglio
Baracca Bianca
Barmatai Lotto II
Bonetto del Prete
Bonettone
Average
EXPLOSIVE: I CATEGORY EXPLOSIVE: II CATEGORY
[kg/day]- Black Powder
[kg/day]- Detonating Cord
10
10
20
25
20
25
10
25
20
20
20
15
16,67
20
Table 18:. Daily explosive use in the quarries.
Daily Consumption of Explosive
kg of explove/day
30
25
20
15
10
EXPLOSIVE: I CATEGORY
[kg/day]- Black Powder
5
0
EXPLOSIVE: II CATEGORY
[kg/day]- Detonating Cord
Quarries
Figure 42: Daily explosive use in the quarries.
114
QUARRY
Prà del Torno
Spinafoglio
Baracca Bianca
Barmatai Lotto II
Bonetto del Prete
Bonettone
Average
NUMBER OF DETONATORS
[N°/day]
5
20
20
20
20
3
14,67
SAFETY
DETONATING
FUSE [m/day] CORD [m/day]
10
1000
10
500
20
500
15
500
10
500
10
300
12,5
550
Table 19:. Daily quantitative of detonators and cords used in the quarries.
Number of Detonators
25
Number/day
20
15
10
5
0
Prà del
Torno
Spinafoglio Baracca
Bianca
Barmatai Bonetto del Bonettone Average
Lotto II
Prete
Quarries
Figure 43: Daily number of detonators used in the quarries.
meters/day
Detonating Cord and Safety Fuse Using
1100
1000
900
800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0
SAFETY FUSE [m/day]
DETONATING CORD [m/day]
Quarries
Figure 44: Daily intensity use of detonating cord and safety fuse in the quarries.
115
NUMBER OF
EMPLOYEES (N°)
QUARRY
Prà del Torno
Spinafoglio
Baracca Bianca
Barmatai Lotto II
Bonetto del Prete
DESCRIPTION OF THE JOB
5
1 excavator man/fireman;
1 drill man;
1 drill man/fireman;
1 fireman;
1 supervisor
5
1 excavator man/fireman;
1 drill man;
1 drill man/fireman;
1 fireman;
1 supervisor
2
1 excavator man/fireman;
1 drill man (Both of them are also
responsible for quarry management)
1 excavator man/fireman;
1 supervisor
-
2
not available
Bonettone
Average
2 excavator men/driller men;
1 fireman
3
3,4 Table 20:. Number of employees.
Number of Employees in the Extractive Unit
Average
Quarries
Bonettone
Barmatai Lotto II
Baracca Bianca
Spinafoglio
Prà del Torno
0
1
2
3
Number of employees
Figure 45: Number of employees in the quarries.
116
4
5
6
QUARRY
Prà del Torno
Spinafoglio
Baracca Bianca
Barmatai Lotto II
Bonetto del Prete
Bonettone
SOCIOECONOMIC
PROFILE OF
EMPLOYEES: ORIGIN
Local population
Local population
Local population
Local population
not available
Local population
PERCENTAGE (%)
100%
100%
100%
100%
not available
67%
Extra-European Union
(Chinese)
23%
Table 21:. Profile of the quarries’ employees.
Percentage of Local Population in total jobs
(%)
120%
100%
80%
60%
40%
20%
0%
Prà del Torno
Spinafoglio
Baracca Bianca
Barmatai Lotto II
Bonettone
Quarries
Figure 46: Percentage of local population in the total jobs.
EXPECTED LIFETIME OF THE
QUARRY
QUARRY (years)
Prà del Torno
≥ 20
Spinafoglio
≥ 20
Baracca Bianca
≥ 20
Barmatai Lotto II ≥ 20
Bonetto del Prete ≥ 20
Bonettone
≥ 20
Average
≥ 20
ESTIMATED RESERVE
(cubic meters- 5 years)
275700
77800
not available
256400
not available
170400
195075
TOTAL VOLUME
EXTRACTED
(cubic meters/year)
4246
1171
2395
3721
438
7859
3305
Table 22:. Quarry dimension in terms of throughput, reserves and lifetime.
117
Estimated Reserve
300000
Cubic Meters/5 years
250000
200000
150000
100000
50000
0
Prà del Torno
Spinafoglio
Barmatai Lotto II
Bonettone
Average
Quarries
Figure 47: Estimated reserve (5 years).
Total Extracted Volume
9000
Cubic Meters/year
8000
7000
6000
5000
4000
3000
2000
1000
0
Prà del Torno
Spinafoglio Barmatai Lotto Bonetto del
II
Prete
Quarries
Figure 48: Total annual extracted volume.
118
Bonettone
Average
THROUGHPUT: COMMERCIAL AND TECHNICAL CHARACTERISTICS
NON
MARKETABLE
MARKET EXTRACTED
FINAL
COMMERCIAL PRICE
ROCK:
QUARRYING
QUARRY
PRODUCT BLOCKS
(€/ql)
BREAKWATER YIELD(%)
Commercial
Blocks for
frame
8,00
Prà del Torno
50%
50%
50%
Commercial
Blocks for
mosaic
2,50
Commercial
Blocks for
frame
8,00
Spinafolglio
46%
54%
46%
Commercial
Blocks for
mosaic
2,50
Commercial
Baracca Bianca
36%
Blocks
not available
64%
36%
Commercial
Barmatai Lotto II Blocks
50% not available
50%
50%
Commercial
Bonetto del Prete Blocks
17% not available
83%
17%
Commercial
Blocks for
Bonettone
slabs
27% 1,00-18,00
73%
27%
Commercial
Average
Blocks
31%
7,38
69%
38%
Table 23:. Throughput, percentage of commercial blocks, prices and Quarrying yield.
Yield (%)
Quarrying Yield
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
Quarries
Figure 49: Quarrying yield.
119
Figure 50: Percentage of commercial blocks produced (quarrying yield).
120
QUARRY
MACHINES AND
VEHICLES
1 Hydraulic Excavator
1 Hydraulic Excavator
PRODUCTOR/MODEL
CATERPILLAR 336 DLN
CATERPILLAR 330 CSN
1 Hydraulic Excavator +
Hydraulic Drilling Unit
CATERPILLAR 330C LNME ;
PERFORA DOMINATOR 200
1 Hydraulic Excavator+
Hydraulic Drilling Unit
1 Excavator
1 Compressor
1 Compressor
1 Compressor
4 Block Cutters
1 Driller
3 Drillers
Prà del
Torno/Spinafoglio 3 Drillers
2 Drillers
1 Pneumatic Driller
1 Driller
1 Hydraulic Driller
2 Pneumatic Sharpeners
1 Pneumatic Sharpener
1 Pneumatic Sharpener
1 Powder Sucker
1 Powder Sucker
1 Imersion Pneumatic Pump
1 Pump
1 Medium Container
1 Hydraulic Excavator
Barmatai Lotto II 1 Compressor
1 Block Cutter
1 Retro Excavator 300
1 Compressor
Bonettone
CATERPILLAR 322 BLN ;
PRATIC 100 VH PR02-05001
FIAT HITACHI 220 FH
INGERSOLL RAND 7/120
KAESER M120T
ATLAS COPCO XAS 186 DD
ROMBO
PLB 291
SIG PLB291L
TOYO Y 62
TOYO TY 16
SIG PLB 291 L3
ATLAS COPCO BBD 15
DOOFOR HF522
PERFORA
LEON II
BABY II
BERMUDA SENIOR
TORNADO 2000
I.R.
VARISCO MP/90
31 A
YUNDAI 290
INGERSOLL RAND
PERFORA
VOLVO EC460LC03148
INGERSOLL RAND
1 Block Cutter; equiped with
Hydraulic Hammer, Driller
and Suction system
1 Cistern
PERFORA BERMUDA SENIO
BR02
Own quarry
1 Hydraulic Driller
-
1 Mola affilafioretti
-
Table 24:. Machines and vehicles in the quarries.
121
The analyzed quarries are typically family-based managed or enterprises classified as
societies, with medium level of mechanization. There can be observed a weak or
inexistent presence of governmental financial support or external incentives or funds. The
machines used for some of the quarries are above described as well.
As it is noticeable from the collected data- referent to 2012 production- the quarries are
exploited in descendent pits, exploring the mineral resources from the top to lower
quotes. The quarrying technique is the dynamic splitting, using detonating cord (with
pentrite core). The explosive used is the Orica RioCord available in 20 (white color),
40(green color), 80 (yellow color) and 100 grams (red color) and with the characteristics
described in the Table 13- usually the quarries use the cord with 12 g PETN/m. The
safety fuse has black powder in its composition and is also used, but in smaller amounts.
Table 25:. Orica RioCord- Detonating Cord for Dynamic Splitting.
122
Figure 51: Rock after extraction through D & B- Barmatai Quarry.
Figure 52: Benches quarried through Dynamic Splitting technique- ‘Barmatai Quarry’.
Figure 53: Extracted rock- Barmatai Quarry.
123
Figure 54: Excavation front- ‘Barmatai Quarry’.
Figure 55: Detail of a Block Cutter- ‘Barmatai Quarry’.
Figure 56: Excavation front and families of discontinuity- ‘Barmatai Quarry’.
124
Figure 57: Retro Excavator for blocks transportation- ‘Barmatai Quarry’.
Figure 58: Detail of the retro excavator bench- ‘Barmatai Quarry’.
Figure 59: Detail of the air compressor- ‘Barmatai Quarry’.
125
Figure 60: Overview of the quarry- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
Figure 61: Drilling for Dynamic Splitting- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
Figure 62: Drilling operation- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
126
Figure 63: Extracted blocks with explosive- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
Figure 64: Holes loading with explosive- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
Figure 65: Equipment for drilling powder recovering- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
127
Figure 66: Block Cutter in operation- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
Figure 67: Detail of an excavation front: cut through diamond saw cutter X Explosive- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
Figure 68: Bench extraction and further operations- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
128
Figure 69: Quarrying method through descendent steps pit.
Figure 70: Reinforcement work for excavation front stability.
Figure 71: Benches exploitation and blocks’ toppling- ‘Prà del Torno’ Quarry.
129
Figure 72: Overview of the mineral basin of ‘Luserna’/’Rorà’ and the neighboring dimension stone quarries.
Figure 73: Overview of the mineral basin of ‘Luserna’/’Rorà’ and the small-scale dimension stone quarries.
Figure 74: Panorama of the mineral basin of Luserna/Rorà and the adjacent dimension stone quarries.
130
V.2. Framework of Analysis:
After the data gathering phase and the statistical study of the provided information, the
purpose is that of employing available and innovative tools to assess the sustainability of
the mineral enterprises. As output of the present work will be suggested a general
monitoring, management and action model to support small-scale quarries development.
Considering the criterion of higher availability of data and input parameters within the
researched sample of quarries, it has been decided to use the proceeded information for
‘Prà del Torno’ quarry to execute the exemplifying analysis. Notwithstanding, clear is that
the framework of analysis here exposed is based on a holistic approach and attempts thus
to be applied to any Small-Scale Quarrying and Mining activity assessed- adapting the
methodology according to peculiar features of the business analyzed.
The ‘Prà del Torno’ quarry has an area of about 17.000 m2 and is located at circa 910 m
above the sea level. The ‘Luserna stream’, at the right, is located at a distance of about 3
km from the quarry. The substrate of the rock mass is in fact particularly homogenous
and contains diverse outcropping mineral surfaces belonging to the grey gneiss “Luserna
Stone”. The absence of relevant fractures and of water pressure provides the rock with a
massive weaving. Geo-mechanical studies in the upper and lower excavation fronts of the
quarry have shown particularly four discontinuity families in the lower excavation front
and five families in the upper front.
The quarry can be considered as of medium technological intensity and owns a significant
set of machines and equipment for quarrying operations (see previous section), with level
of mechanization higher than the average for the typical dimension stone quarrying
operation through small-scale units. Currently, the quarry uses: 4 retro excavators for
block transportation, loading and auxiliary works; 2 air compression drillers for primary
cuts; 1 hydraulic driller for further cuts. The drilling powder is sucked and recovered.
There is no use of electricity in the quarry and therefore the use of diamond wire saw is
not possible- although they had cut one of the benches using the machine, which was rent
for that purpose.
131
Figure 75: Stereogram for the lower excavation front- ‘Prà del Torno’ quarry.
Figure 76: Stereogram for the upper excavation front- ‘Prà del Torno’ quarry.
132
Figure 77: Geographical location of the excavation fronts.
The throughput of the quarry operation in 2012 was of 10335 tons, being the quarrying
yield of circa 50%. The scrap contains high percentages of mica and thus cannot be used
for aggregate or concrete production, but just as breakwater (for ramps’ walls mainly).
Currently two blasting operations occur in a week. The processing sawing uses frames and
cutters.
133
The dimension of the produced blocks is also thought in terms of storage’s exigencies
and must be adapted according to it. The transportation to the storage is executed by an
external company and comprehends a journey of 40-50 km.
The energy input for the quarry operation is basically composed by the unique voice of
diesel (no use of electricity or water) for machines consumption and was of about 42 ton
(year 2012).
THROUGHPUT COMMERCIAL BREAKWATER
(tons)
BLOCKS (tons) (tons)
Prà del Torno I
791,98
45,3
Mining Yield(%)
746,68
Prà del Torno II
10333,56
5911,02
4422,54
57,2
LOT
Table 26:. Production levels- ‘Prà del Torno’ quarry.
TRANSPORTATION OF COMMERCIAL BLOCKS TO STORAGE
CAPACITY (cubic
DISTANCE
CAMION
Dump dimensions (m x m) meters)
(km)
IVECO 4
AXIS
6,20 x 2,30
16
40-50
VOLVO 4
AXIS
5,20 x 2,25
14,04
40-50
Table 27:. Transportation from quarry to storage- ‘Prà del Torno’ quarry.
ENERGY CONSUMPTION
ENERGY/FUEL
CONSUMPTION
Water
No
Diesel
42,03
Electricity
No
UNIT
l/year
ton/year
MJ/year
Table 28:. Energy and fuel consumption- ‘Prà del Torno’ quarry.
MAINTENANCE COSTS
TYPE
COST (€/year)
Block Cutters
17963,79
Excavators
17167,18
Table 29:. Maintenance costs- ‘Prà del Torno’ quarry.
134
QUARRY
Prà del
Torno
Spinafoglio
Barmatai
Lotto II
Bonettone
EXPLOSIVE: I
CATEGORY
[kg/year]Black Powder
EXPLOSIVE
: II
CATEGORY
[kg/year]NUMBER OF
Detonating
DETONATORS
Cord
[N°/year]
SAFETY
FUSE
DETONATING
[m/year] CORD [m/year]
2600
1245
750
750
170
1300
259200
41375
180
756
3036
6098
1160
8602
7590
10116
315744
214109
7590
3096
Table 30:. Explosive and detonators consumption in a year.
The proposed framework of analysis for the ‘Prà del Torno’ dimension stone quarry that
has been designed in the present work is composed by:
I)
Sustainable S.W.O.T. Analysis: The S.W.O.T. analysis is a strategic planning
tool that helps the business to focus on key strategic issues. The S.W.O.T.
analysis is a structured planning method used to evaluate the Strengths,
Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threat involved in the business. It consists
basically on identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and
unfavorable to achieving goals. The tool allow the company to set achievable
objectives for its enterprise, aligning goals with current status quo and social
conjuncture and informing later steps in planning to achieve the objectives.
The four aspects approached in the S.W.O.T. analysis are:
a) Strengths: characteristics of the business or project that give it an advantage over
others. These are aspects that add value to the product sold. Examples include the
location of the quarry or its particular knowledge and expertise;
b) Weaknesses: characteristics that place the business at a disadvantageous position
respect to others. Must be assessed and them improved, mitigated and managed;
c) Opportunities: elements that the project could exploit to its advantage. Using
strengths to enjoy opportunities is the key-concept of an intelligent business;
d) Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or
project. They require innovation, alternative plans and new strategies to be
counteracted.
135
Strengths and weaknesses are internal aspects and thus are within the control
of the business. They may refer to features of marketing, finance, production
or structural organization.
Opportunities and threats are external factors and, therefore, are outside the
control of the business. They might include environment, economic situation,
social changes or technological advances.
The idea of smart management of the business is related to creating
opportunities and counter-threats by making the most of its strengths and
addressing its weaknesses.
The S.W.O.T. analysis here proposed uses all the four dimensions above
explained, but also adds a further reasoning to the methodology. By classifying
the points assessed for each of the dimensions in socially, economically or
environmentally motivated the “Sustainable S.W.O.T. Analysis” attempts to be
an overall planning method for sustainability actions. By assessing whether of
the three aspects of Sustainable Development (Social, Economic and
Environmental) are reinforced/benefited or weakened/injured through a
strategic standpoint, the tool is an useful and efficient instrument to direct for
environmental scanning, decision making, establishing criticalities, developing
alternative strategies, monitoring results and addressing policies.
II)
Sustainability Matrix: a simple way to organize and present a qualitative
diagnosis of mineral clusters, quarries or extractive operations regarding
sustainable development, the proposed tool comprehends the philosophy of
evaluating the contribution, or the level of impact, that production factors pose
to sustainability aspects. The structure of the matrix is basically:
 On the first row: Placement of the sustainability dimensions- Social, Economic
and Environmental;
 On the first column: Placement of a set of production factors or aspects in order
to evaluate the cluster organization and needs;
136
 The evaluation of each intersection of a production factor (column) with the three
aspects of sustainable development (row) combine the opinion and information
provided by stakeholders and a consensus opinion reached with the assistance of
a facilitator. Composing the views of stakeholders and the information and input
data provided by the involved actors, grades result of a consensus appraisal and an
average grade that reflected those views;
 The authors [30] suggest the use of a scale of five grades, ranging from a high
negative impact (minus 2 or --) to a high positive contribution to the respective
sustainability aspect (plus 2 or ++);
 The sum of the grades per row represent each production factor contribution to
the overall sustainability of the quarry/mineral cluster;
 The subtotals for each of the three vertical columns represent the situation for
each of the three aspects of sustainable development for the case in study;
 The matrix proposed by the authors has an overall range for sustainability with
grades that extend from -36 (the worst possible grade) to +36 (the highest grade),
which can potentially be split into 6 classes of 12 grades each and with one grade
being neutral- three negative classes (-36 to -25; -24 to -13; -12 to -1); a neutral
grade (0); and three positive grades (+1 to +11; +12 to +23; +24 to +36).
For the present case study, as production factors set for the first column of the
sustainable matrix, six aspects have been chosen:
1)
Raw material/ore: the main reason for a mineral cluster to exist;
2)
Technology (Production) model: the most widespread production path/flow
sheet adopted by companies at the cluster;
3)
Labour skill level: reflects the average level of education and/or technical skills
of working people in the cluster;
4)
Entrepreneurial model: must reflect usual production/trade organization
procedures at play;
5)
Government intervention/aid: reflects the way institutions and government
agencies intervene in the cluster;
6)
Finance institutions participation: includes all credit and loan organizations
contributing to the cluster (banks, development agencies etc.).
137
III)
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA): is a fundamental tool of sustainability
assessment to support decision making. The central idea is to study a process,
activity or product through all the phases of its life cycle, aiming to identify
which are the environmental burdens associated to each subcomponent. In
fact, to achieve more sustainable production and consumption patterns, it is
necessary to consider the implications of the whole supply chain of minerals,
including their use and possible scenarios of waste management, i.e. their entire
life cycle from “cradle-to-grave”. Behind the modern environmental policies
and decisions about ‘Sustainable Consumption and Production’ (SCP) there are
the concepts of ‘Life Cycle Thinking’ (LCT) and ‘Life Cycle Assessment’
(LCA). LCA is supported by ISO 14040-44 standards and the International
Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) of the JRC-European Commission, which
provide a consistent and robust data base for life cycle data and studies and
enable coherent instruments such as ‘Ecolabelling’, ‘Ecodesign’, ‘Carbon
Footprint’ and ‘Green Public Procurement’.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is indeed a structured, comprehensive and
internationally standardized method. It quantifies all relevant emissions and
resources consumed, the related environmental and health impacts and
resource depletion issues that are associated with any goods or services
(“products”). [34]
Life Cycle Assessment takes into account a product’s full life cycle: from the
extraction of resources, through production, use, and recycling, up to the
disposal of remaining waste.
The evaluation made by LCA methodology is objective and worldwide
accepted and appreciated, quantifying environmental loads of a product or
process along all the life cycle phases, through the systematic measurement of
all physical exchanges from and towards the ecosystem. Environmental
burdens can be use of natural resources, as well as generation of waste, and
release of harmful substances into the eco-system. LCA studies analyze the
environmental aspects and potential impacts from raw material acquisition,
through production, use and disposal. LCA can, therefore, address production
138
and consumption of goods towards better standards of human and
environmental health, as well as natural resources saving.
In the Mining and Quarrying sectors, the LCA should encompass from raw
materials (mineral resource) excavation, through production, use and final
disposal (recycling or landfilling). In the case of the present study, the goal will
be the one of assessing impacts related to a part of the life cycle of the
dimension stone (“Luserna Stone”), i.e. the Quarrying operation by itself,
emphasizing the mineral extraction till the transportation of the commercial
block to the storage.
LCA comprehends four major steps:
1) Goal and Scope Definition: defines the overall objectives, the boundaries of the
system under study, the sources of data and the functional unit to which the
achieved results refer;
2) Life Cycle Inventory (LCI): involves a detailed compilation of all the
environmental inputs (material and energy) and outputs (air, water and solid
emissions) at each stage of the mineral life cycle.
3) Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA): aims at quantifying the relative importance
of all environmental burdens obtained in the LCI by analyzing their influence on
selected environmental effects;
4) Interpretation of results: is the last step of an LCA study: the results from the LCI
and LCIA stages must be interpreted in order to find hot spots and compare
alternative scenarios.
The LCA approach currently represents the scientific basis for several
environmental sustainability indicators, as well as green communication and green
marketing instruments. Consequently, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is increasingly
being used to measure the environmental performances of products and to
understand the environmental sustainability of the production chain. Hence, the
tool can reasonably and efficiently be applied to the dimension stone quarrying to
assess sustainability performance and to address measures and improvements.
139
V.3. Case Studies:
I)
Sustainable S.W.O.T. Analysis:
Table 31:. Sustainable S.W.O.T. Analysis for the ‘Prà del Torno’ quarry.
The Sustainable S.W.O.T. Analysis shows:

Internal factors:

Strengths: 4 social strengths; 5 environmental/technical strengths; 4
economic strengths;
140

Weaknesses: 3 social weaknesses; 3 environmental/technical weaknesses; 3
economic weaknesses;

External factors:

Opportunities:
3
socially
motivated
opportunities;
3
environmentally/technically motivated opportunities; 2 economically
motivated opportunities;

Threats: 3 socially motivated threats; 1 environmentally/technically
motivated threat; 3 economically motivated threats.
Indeed, while from a social standpoint the internal workforce is low skilled, poorly
motivated and trained, the employment of meaningful part of the local population, the
apparent stability of the workforce (absence of strikes) and the contact with engineering
consulting groups are points of strength of the business model. Externally, social threats
are mainly generated by local population complaints and demands for receiving benefits
from the economic profits from the quarrying activity and consequently the people’s
voice can threat quarries’ “social license to operate”. On the other hand, there is a social
opportunity to create an open and transparent dialogue with population and invest in
social events in the municipalities in a way to reduce social threats as well as the
opportunity to strength relations with universities and specialized academic centers.
The environmental dimension shows the internal negative aspects of explosives’ use and
the fact that it is the only practiced excavation technique, which can represent a strategic
disadvantage. The low level of environmental awareness and education from part of the
personnel is also a weakness point. Nevertheless, positive environmental figures are that
the energetic consumption is low (just diesel is used), the mineral basin is large, of good
quality and resource is available and of easy access. Some facility for pollution reduction is
available (e.g. powder recovery). Externally, the main threat is the higher cost of less
polluting and more efficient technologies (e.g. diamond wire saw), that can even be
unaffordable for small-scale operations with limited financial resources like the analyzed
one. Fortunately, the availability and accessibility to environmental management tools (e.g.
LCA) is increasing as well as the stimulus to design and develop technologies more
sophisticated and less impacting. Moreover, pressure for “greener” process can represent
a stimulus for implementing more efficient quarrying methods.
141
The economic sphere shows as main internal weaknesses the storage commercial blocks
which are currently high, the economic performance in the last years which has been
unsatisfactory, and the low quarrying yield (with limited productive). On the other hand,
there is internal governmental money for optimization of the excavation technique, the
participation in the quarries’ consortium, the availability of machines and vehicles
(medium technological intensity) that can be positively employed, and the relative
satisfactory quarry planning. As external factor it is necessary, at the one side, to pay
attention to the threats offered by the current economic crisis, the market failures and
unstable prices, and the threat of large-scale companies and external investors aiming to
enter the Italian dimension stone extractive industry. At the other side, the unique
characteristics of “Luserna Stone” and its several uses represent a relevant commercial
appeal for the product, and the international renown of Italian dimension stone must also
be enjoyed for marketing the product.
II)
Sustainability Matrix:
142
Table 32:. Sustainability Matrix for the Prà del Torno quarry.
143
It has been observed that the “Financial Institutions participation” (factor VI) and the
“Labour Skill Level”(factor III) were the most negative to impact sustainability. In the
case of the first factor, the main reason are the restrict funds for quarries, the limited
credit and loans and the current economic crisis that is impacting Italian productive
activities. The “Raw Material Availability” factor has a positive effect, specially due to the
spread and available mineral resource in the zone, esteemed and with broad range of
applications- although negative impact has the quarrying yield which is low (even lower
than 50%). The “Technology (Production model)” is also slightly positive, as quarries
generate jobs in the local communities, the technological intensity is medium (positive
aspect for a small-scale quarry) and, in spite of negative impact of operational costs and
market failures to the business and the environmental impacts associated with dynamic
splitting technique, the use of energy is reduced. The “Entrepreneurial Model” is the most
positive impacting to business sustainability, because quarrying is an important source of
income to local residents, Engineering and Geology Consulting is present and active and
the Consortium improves strategic planning and environmental management of scraps.
The evaluation of the sustainability aspect (columns) grade summed up shows that the
economic aspect was the worst one, particularly because of the recent economic crisis and
its severe effects in all the economic sectors and specifically in mining and quarrying
(market failures and unstable prices with variable demand).
The environmental and social aspects were positively evaluated. The first one shows the
best performance among the three sustainability dimensions because of provincial and
local permanent environmental control in the zone, the reduced energetic consume, the
consortium presence managing landfill and the increasing pressure for environmentallyfriend and green practices for part of society. The latter aspect showed positive
evaluation, especially due to jobs generation and income opportunity for local
communities.
The overall grade obtained by the cluster was +2, meaning a slightly sustainable situation,
that however must be periodically monitored and reassessed in order to rise sustainability
performances. Innovative techniques, combined and optimized extraction methods to
join dynamic splitting should be proposed. The economic external situation proportioned
144
by the recent economic crisis has real impact and whether the overall economic national
scenario improves, there is plausible opportunity for rising sustainability levels.
III)
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA):
The LCA model here presented has been developed with the use of the SimaPro 7
software package. The system’s boundary includes Quarry infrastructure and machines
(machines and vehicles), quarry development, quarrying stage and recultivation (for the
analyzed quarry, no data is available about the quarry closure).
The procedure adopted for environmental burdens assessment follows the internationally
recognized trend of basing overall judgment on sound, objective and consolidated LCA
indicators.
Figure 78: LCA Model for “Luserna Stone” quarrying: borders. Source: Blengini et.al.(2011).
In the present case study, a top-down approach is adopted using the Impact 2002+
methodology (Jolliet et.al., 2003; Humbert et.al., 2005). The procedure presupposes
selecting indicators that are representative of broadly recognized areas of environmental
concern, as well as based on various international conventions, agreements and consistent
with the International Standards Organization (ISO)’s recommendations. The method is
composed by 14 mid-point categories, 4 damage end-point categories and it is also
possible to normalize and weight the indicator though a default weighting factor in order
to obtain a compressive single-core index. The mid-point category values are created
through classification and characterization of the inventory of attributes.
145
Table 33:. Environmental effects ascribable to the extractive industry and their scale of influence.
Figure 79: LCA value tree for quarrying. Source: Blengini et.al.(2011).
146
III.1) Goal and Scope Definition: the present LCA model aims to assess the
environmental burdens associated with the quarrying activity of the “Luserna Stone” in
order to qualify and quantify the most concerning and relevant sources of impacts
throughout the overall system. As a consequence, it aims as well to establish a common
procedure for LCA methodologies for dimension stone quarries as a way of not just
supporting decision makers to propose sustainable policies, but also to strengthen severe
impacting techniques to stimulate the development of environmentally plausible
extraction and quarrying methods;
III.2) Life Cycle Inventory (LCI): the model has been divided in four unit processesQuarry Development; Quarry Infrastructure & Machines (considerable part of the data
has been estimated from machines manuals and empirical information); Quarrying
Method (including resources and land use, energy consumption and explosive usedynamic splitting); Recultivation. The products (blocks and breakwater) are then
transported for about 45 km to the storage and sawing/processing facility, while the
scraps are used for auxiliary tasks in the quarry or destined to landfills in the end of the
quarry.
TABLE I
DESCRIPTION OF QUARRY PRODUCTS
Product
"Luserna Stone" Blocks
Breakwater
Scraps
Total
Average delivery
distance- to processing
and sawing facilities and
Q.t year(t/y) Unit price(euro/t)
storage(km)
5911,02
80,00
45
4422,54 45
1773,31 20
12106,87 Table 34:. Description of the quarry products.
TABLE II
INVENTORY DATA: QUARRY DEVELOPMENT
Land Use
Occupation, traffic area and quarry yard
Quarry lifetime (y):
Expected total production (t):
Value
Unit/Origin
5000 m2a
30
363205,98
Table 35:. Inventory Data for quarry development.
147
TABLE III
INVENTORY DATA: QUARRY INFRASTRUCTURES & MACHINES
Machine/Vehicle/Infrastructure
5 Hydraulic Excavators
2 Hydraulic Drilling Units
3 Compressor Units
4 Block Cutters
12 Drillers
4 Pneumatic Sharpeners
2 Powder Sucker
2 Pumps
1 Medium Container
Infrastructure ifetime (y):
Specifications
184 kW net power; 2,55 m3 bench; 30 ton weight
undercarriage
30 kg steel each
60 kg each
50 kg steel each
15 kg steel each
5 kg each
5 kg each
20 kg each
5 kg
10
Table 36:. Inventory Data for quarry infrastructure.
TABLE IV
INVENTORY DATA: QUARRYING METHOD- "LUSERNA
STONE"
INVENTORY DATA: RESOURCES & LAND USE (2012)
Resources & Land Use
Gneiss, in ground (Granite)
Water
Occupation, mineral extraction site
Value
12106,866
0
20000
Unit/Origin
t
m2a
m2a
INVENTORY DATA: ENERGY CONSUMPTION (2012)
Energy & Fuels
Diesel
Electricity
Water
Value
Unit/Origin
42,03 t
0 MJ
0 l
INVENTORY DATA: EXPLOSIVE USE_DYNAMIC SPLITTING (2012)
Dynamic Splitting
Explosive I category: Black Powder
Explosive II category: Detonating cord
Detonators
Detonating Cord
Safety Fuse
Value
2600
750
170
259200
180
Table 37:. Inventory Data for Quarrying Method.
148
Unit/Origin
kg
kg
units
m
m
TABLE V
INVENTORY DATA: TRANSPORTATION
Vehicle
Camion IVECO 4 AXIS 15,68 m3 capacity
Camion: VOLVO 4 AXIS 14,04 m3 capacity
Distance
Unit/origin
45 km
45 km
Table 38:. Inventory Data for products’ transportation.
TABLE VI
INVENTORY DATA: RECULTIVATION
Land Use
Transformation, from mineral extraction site
Transformation, to forest
Materials/Fuels
Excavation scraps
Vegetal species
Value
1
1
Value
5
1
Unit/Origin
m2
m2
Unit/Origin
kg
m2
Table 39:. Inventory Data for quarry recultivation.
III.3) Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA): The following tables and schemes show
mid-point indicators, damage schemes, single-core weighted index, tables and graphs for
impacts’ characterization of 1 ton of quarried typical products. The idea is to evaluate the
results and compare unit processes to figure out the most critical burdens and then
address policies and actions.
149
Figure 80: Network Representation for LCA: single-core index in % (Impact 2002 +).
Figure 81: Mid-point indicators relevant to “Luserna Stone” quarrying- contribution analysis (Impact 2002 +).
150
Figure 82: Normalized indicators relevant to “Luserna Stone” quarrying (Impact 2002 +).
Figure 83: Network representation of the LCA- Global Warming Potential Characterization: CO2 eq. (Impact
2002+).
151
Figure 84: Network representation of the LCA- Non-Renewable Energy sources Characterization: MJ primary.
(Impact 2002+).
Figure 85: Network representation of the LCA- Mineral extraction Characterization: MJ surplus. (Impact 2002+).
152
Figure 86: Network representation of the LCA- Global Warming Damage Assessment: %. (Impact 2002+).
Figure 87: Network representation of the LCA- Ecosystem Quality Damage Assessment: %. (Impact 2002+).
153
Figure 88: Network representation of the LCA- Human Health Damage Assessment: %. (Impact 2002+).
Figure 89: Network representation of the LCA- Resource use Damage Assessment: %. (Impact 2002+).
154
III.4) Interpretation of results: the critical analysis of the Life Cycle Impact Assessment
(LCIA) outputs reveals the following figures about the dimension “Luserna Stone”
quarrying:
 The most relevant source of environmental burdens is the “Energy Consumption”
voice. Although no electricity and water is used in the quarrying activity, the
required diesel use for machines and vehicles operation, encompassing drilling,
excavation, hauling, transportation, blocks’ movement and other operations, is the
most important environmental impacting contribution in almost all the categories
analyzed. Notwithstanding, it is necessary to emphasize that whether the
excavation technique changes- for instance combining explosives use with
diamond wire saw- the impacts can be potentially reduced, as technologies such as
diamond wire cutting would reduce the diesel consumption for drilling and other
operations and waste/scraps generation;
 Transportation of products (blocks and breakwater) is the second more impacting
voices in terms of overall burdens. The use of relatively heavy trucks along about
45 km till processing/sawing/storage justify the impacts shown;
 Explosives use intensity for dynamic splitting technique is the third unit process in
terms of environmental impacts. As explosives are the only excavation technique
employed, potential damage for health and environment (emissions) are associated
with the quarrying method. Furthermore, all the energy consumption (diesel)
required for machines and infrastructure operations which support explosive must
be considered in the holistic assessment. It should be evaluated the possibility of
using the diamond wire saw, which, in spite of higher investment and amortization
costs, is technically and environmentally more efficient- it would rise the quarrying
yield, reducing scraps and potentially mitigating energy consumption and
explosives impacts;
 The percentage of scraps that is addressed for landfills has an associated impact
that must be also monitored. However, good part of the scraps is reused internally
for auxiliary works, which is an eco-efficient technique;
 Quarry infrastructure, re-cultivation and quarry development are less important
voices, as must be considered in a long-term horizon (10 or 30 years analysis).
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CHAPTER 6: CASE STUDY-BRAZILIAN DIMENSION STONES’
SMALL-SCALE QUARRYING
VI.1. Small mining and quarrying in Brazil- features and methodologies:
Although often neglected by the media and scientific community, Small-Scale Mining and
quarrying continues to play an important social and economic role in hundreds of
communities throughout Brazil. Usually informally based, conflicts between owners, of
small-scale operations, mineworkers, governmental agencies and other stakeholders have
contributed to progressive burdens, impasses and difficulties related to environmental,
health, safety, social and productivity factors. In the condition of one of the largest
producers of mineral commodities in the western hemisphere and home of large mining
companies such as Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer, and having a relevant
Small-Scale Mining and Quarrying industry, especially in gold, gem and dimension stones’
production, smart, comprehensive and participatory policies are needed to manage the
systemic path of mining and quarrying activities at national level and providing supporting
frameworks, tools and programs to foment, train and enable Small-Scale mineral
businesses.
From Peiter, Villas Boas and Shinya (2000) [29], one of the recent methodologies to
enable and support Small Mining activities in the Brazilian territory is the project
developed by CETEM (Mineral Technology Center) to implement a consensus- building
methodology as a way of finding practical solutions to the environmental, social and
economic impacts associated with the production of dimension stone by small-scale
miners. The project has been set up in a region located in the northwestern part of Rio de
Janeiro State and is based on previous experience when working with gold prospectors in
the Amazon and from the lessons and experiences brought by Canadian officials and
industry representatives. The framework aimed to put together lessons learnt, insights and
best practices to be applied elsewhere in Brazil, in South America and also in other parts
of the world.
Among the largest Brazilian mineral commodities are crushed stone, gold, sand and
dimension stones (particularly granite, marble-but also gneiss and other stones) and it is
156
estimated that around 50% of their production is due to small and medium sized
enterprises (SMEs). One important feature is that, in spite of being both considered as
Small-Scale Mining, ‘garimpos’ and dimension stones quarries operate under different
legal regimes. The Brazilian Constitution guarantees the operations of ‘garimpos’. Special
attention was dedicated for ‘garimpos’ in the Brazilian Constitution because of the social
problems caused by the economic difficulties of the 1980’s, combined with an
unexpectedly long dry season in the north-eastern region of Brazil when around 400.000
people left the region during the drought in an attempt to find a better life. Many of these
people migrated to the Amazon in search for gold, becoming ‘garimpos’ a social relief
activity. Small quarries, at their side, were not considered similar to ‘garimpos’, since the
quarries were widely dispersed throughout the country and never reached the high profile
of the ‘garimpos’ activities in the Amazon. Quarry operations, independently of their size,
are not considered or claimed to be ‘garimpos’ activities and thus do not enjoy the special
provisions of the Brazilian constitution intended to regularize those types activities. Smallscale quarries are consequently subject to state and local laws that regulate the collection
of taxes, sometimes rigid environmental legislations and other federal laws as well as
obtaining an operation permit by competent authorities.
The social environment in Small-Scale Mining and quarrying zones is markedly diverse,
sometimes heterogeneous and with divergent interests. That means conflicts among the
different stakeholders are likely to arise. In order to allow people in those mineral area to
take advantage of the natural resources in a sustainable, productive, stable and with a
favorable socioeconomic climate, it is necessary to understand conflicts and aim to
address and deal with them in a reasonable and effective manner. Among the main
conflicts frequently found in Brazilian Small-Scale Mining and Quarrying zones, we can
mention:
 Government agencies vs. Government agencies: absence or poor communication
and consultation and overlapping responsibilities between governmental agencies
when proposing new regulations or changing local laws;
 State agencies vs. quarry owners and cutting shop owners: failure or incapacity to
comply with federal, state or local laws can cause the closure of the quarry
157
operation or of the cutting shops, with consequent serious economic and social
repercussions to local workers and their communities;
 Owners vs. Owners: these types of conflicts arise from competition among
quarries and disagreements about how to try to maintain prices in the presence of
market failures (supply and demand issues). Not all the quarry owners actively join
producers’ associations and syndicates and many are reluctant or skeptical about
the real possibility to find solutions to social and economic problems within the
community;
 Workers vs. workers: problems and disagreements which arise inside the quarry
working environment;
 Other stakeholders: local political leaders and authorities, Industrial Federations,
the SME Bureau (SEBRAE), the National Department for Mineral Production (DNPM),
the Brazilian Environmental Institute (IBAMA), the Ministry of Environment and the
National Development Bank (BNDES).
In an attempt to properly address and then propose a follow-up to find an agreement
among those stakeholders, a methodology called “Consensus Building Methodology” has
been idealized. The plan of actions for improving conditions and social climate and
enable quarries to properly explore mineral resources includes:
 Close and cooperative work among government agencies, creating a Network
for Civil Construction Minerals and Materials;
 Joint educational campaign promoted by the government to inform quarry
owners and cutting shop owners about their legal obligations as well as
working together in a way to support the compliance with the law and
creating confidence between the parts involved;
 The purpose to create a participatory development of a multi-stakeholder
consultation process and a collaborative policy to build a common plan of
action: the output would be called the “Stone Forum” which could act as an
effective tool to identify the problems facing the dimension stone industry in
the zone and help to find solutions for the problems.
158
The “Consensus Building Methodology” is considered as an alternative form of dispute
resolution (ADR). The policies involved in this sort of policy are empirical and sitespecific, but a general guideline to implement it is shown below (Figure 89). The central
idea is to engender a collaborative gear among stakeholders (workers, quarry owners,
agencies and all the others) through partnership, community-based actions and
partnerships to enable small-scale business. Fundamental presence has the catalyst and
mediator agent in leadering actors and coordinating actions. Included in the methodology
are plans and guidelines to finance and develop new extraction and processing
technologies for dimension stones and environmental methods to rehabilitate former
mine sites. The approach idealized is holistic and is intended to help decision makers to
cope with sustainable development issues.
1. Defining
the
problem:
Conflicts to
be
addressed
2. Catalyst:
an
organization
or group
assumes the
role of
catalysing
actions
3.
Willingness
to discuss,
purpose,
accept and
search
conciliation
4. Seeling
Consensu
Building
purpose
5. Funding:
ideally shared
by
stakeholders
6. Final
Consensus
Building:
publication,
list next
steps and
follow-up
Figure 89: Consensus Building Methodology- General Guidelines. Source: adapted from PEIFER, C; VILLAS
BOAS, R.C. ; SHINYA, W. (2000).
VI.2. Brazilian small-scale mineral based clusters:
The presence and concentration of small-scale mineral business in some particular zones
originate the denomination mineral-based local clusters or ‘arranjos produtivos locais de
base mineral’, spread in many parts of Brazil. The Federal Brazilian Government has set
159
in 2004 a special industry policy containing definitions and tools to render possible
support to medium and small enterprises, specially the ones located in those defined
mineral clusters. Therefore, larger possibility to develop ASM was possible with more
funds proposed and created. Help and support has started to be offered by government
and NGOs to mining communities to change their ways of organization and production
to achieve better socio-environmental, technical and market standards. The policy
framework attempts to enhance medium and small-sized enterprises competitive
conditions, with emphasizes to the productive units located in the predefined mineral
clusters. After governmental assessment, some clusters are selected to be able to enter the
supporting program- they have been classified according to features such as size and
number of enterprises or level of technological development- and initially twenty-nine
were considered to have good or very good conditions to improve their status and acquire
local communities’ social and economic benefits. Out of the identified mineral clusters
five have been selected to be technically supported by CETEM (Brazilian Centre for Mineral
Technology):
1) The natural stone (gneiss) cluster of ‘Santo Antonio de Padua’ (State of Rio de
Janeiro);
2) The limestone cluster of ‘Carigi’ (State of Ceara);
3) The opal cluster at the city of ‘Pedro II’ (State of Piaui);
4) The soap-stone cluster at Minas Gerais;
5) The ornamental travertine (marble) cluster of ‘Ourolandia’ (State of Bahia).
In the process of supporting the mineral clusters high-level research, scientific knowledge
and academic institutions are fundamental pieces. After implementing policies, political,
legal, financial and technological support, it is crucial to assess the level of sustainability of
the mineral SMEs in such a way to evaluate whether the proposed methodologies are
effectively and positively changing the businesses. The methodology created and then
proposed to implement a suitable and less complex sustainability diagnosis for clusters is
based on stakeholders’ consultation and opinion gathering, synthesized on a qualitative
cross impact matrix, referred as “Sustainability Matrix”.
When the objective is to assess and establish sustainability levels, a different set of
indicators can be proposed and used aiming to manage mining in order to ensure that
160
minerals’ contribution to society are net positive over the life cycle of the resource and
certificating that mining’s positive contribution to society can be guaranteed [31]. The
indicators are based on criteria and sub-criteria involving burdens associated with mineral
production. In the U.S., for instance, four mineral criteria have been defined, with subcriteria associated:
1) Productive Capacity Criterion- maintenance of capacity to produce commodities:
a) Resources;
b) Exploration capacity;
c) Production (extractive capacity);
d) Processing capacity (smelting, refining, pipelines and transportation);
e) Use of Energy/Minerals/Materials.
2) Environmental Criterion- maintenance of environmental quality:
a) Ambient environment;
b) Management of extraction and processing;
c) Reclamation: remediation-restoration of all extraction sites;
d) Environmental releases.
3) Socio-Economic Criterion- maintenance and enhancement of long-term social,
economic and cultural benefits to meet the needs of societies:
a) Local economic benefits and costs;
b) National economic benefits;
c) Cultural, social and spiritual needs;
d) Equity;
e) Recreation and Tourism.
4) Legal and Institutional Criterion- legal, institutional and economic framework to
support sustainable development:
a) Legal framework;
b) Institutional framework;
c) Economic framework;
d) Capacity to measure and monitor indicators;
e) Ability to conduce and apply research and development.
161
Indicators, their measurement and the continuous monitoring and reviewing are effective
and objective ways of assessing sustainability performance in the mineral businesses
through mathematical models. In fact, their application should be encouraged.
Commitment
to
sustainable
development
principles
demands
integration
of
environmental policies and development strategies so as to satisfy current and future
human needs, improve the quality of life, and protect resources [31]. One of the main
issues that arise when dealing with sustainable development is the disagreement about
how to balance its social, economic and environmental dimensions. The conflicting point
is basically the notion that sustainability cannot be treated as science, although science
must be one of its fundamental tools to achieve the stated goals. Nonetheless,
sustainability is a value-based concept, an ethical precept and stated desires for
simultaneous equity, prosperity and environmental protection represent moral positions.
Consequently, the concept is always tied to a certain level of subjectivity, stakeholders’
perceptions and interests, and changes depending on the business, on the company or
even on the community where it has been assessed or approached.
Considering the cited subjectivity emanated from ethical and moral aspects and also that
in small quarries and mines there is a reduced availability of required input data for
proceeding the calculation of sustainability indicators, it is plausible to look for alternative
and efficient ways of measuring and monitoring sustainability. Peiter and Vilas Boas
(2008) have proposed a methodology for measuring clusters’ sustainability through the
so-called “Sustainability Matrix”. The authors affirm that, considering that representatives
of the main stakeholders are conscious of their contributions to the cluster, have an
adequate knowledge on how the cluster works and have the perception about what are
the positive contributions and negative impacts, an average opinion amongst them should
provide some direction for action for many purposes (for instance, to evaluate if
government aid programmes and policies are contributing or not to improve sustainable
development). Therefore, the authors suggest the stakeholders’ consultation mechanism
to provide reliable diagnosis on the cluster sustainability situation. The output is the
“Sustainability Matrix”: a simple way to organize and present a qualitative diagnosis of
mineral clusters regarding sustainable development- the proposed framework
162
comprehends the philosophy of evaluating the contribution, or the level of impact, that
production factors pose to sustainability aspects. The structure of the matrix is basically:
 On the first row: Placement of the sustainability dimensions- Social, Economic
and Environmental;
 On the first column: Placement of a set of production factors or aspects in order
to evaluate the cluster organization and needs;
 The evaluation of each intersection of a production factor (column) with the three
aspects of sustainable development (row) combine the opinion and information
provided by stakeholders and a consensus opinion reached with the assistance of
a facilitator. Composing the views of stakeholders and the information and input
data provided by the involved actors result in a consensus appraisal and an
average grade that reflected those views;
 The authors [30] suggest the use of a scale of five grades, ranging from a high
negative impact (minus 2 or --) to a high positive contribution to the respective
sustainability aspect (plus 2 or ++);
 The sum of the grades per row represent each production factor contribution to
the overall sustainability of the cluster;
 The subtotals for each of the three vertical columns represent the situation for
each of the three aspects of sustainable development for the cluster in study;
 The matrix proposed by the authors has an overall range for sustainability with
grades that extend from -36 (the worst possible grade) to +36 (the highest grade)
which can potentially be split into 6 classes of 12 grades each and with one grade
being neutral- three negative classes (-36 to -25; -24 to -13; -12 to -1); a neutral
grade (0); and three positive grades (+1 to +11; +12 to +23; +24 to +36).
VI.3. Case study: Padua natural stone cluster and Sustainability Assessment:
The case study here presented has been courteously lent by Peiter and Villas Boas [30]
from the Brazilian Centre for Mineral Technology (CETEM), based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It
will be analyzed in order to extract best practices and methodologies which have also
been used in the previous Chapter for assessing Italian quarries.
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The studied region is ‘Pádua’, 250 km northeast of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Prominent
geological features of the area include a well known geological fault line that results in the
‘Paraiba do Sul River’, which runs through the area in an almost straight line for hundreds
of kilometers. As a geological consequence of this fault, there are two chains of hills
known as ‘Serra do Catete’ and ‘Serra do Bonfim’, where a variety of dimension stones,
known as milonitised gneisses, occurs. The weather is usually hot and dry during the
winter and humid during the summer season. The environment surrounding the city of
Santo Antonio de Pádua has been significantly impacted by cattle farms and rice and
coffee agriculture that used to operate in the region.
Figure 90: Geographic Location- ‘Santo Antonio de Pádua’, RJ-Brazil. Source: Google Earth.
In terms of mineral resources, the gneiss found on or near the surface of the surrounding
hills and sometimes on the ground may range in color from gray with white spots, similar
to gray granite, to yellow and light rose that follow a pattern similar to wood fibers. The
production of dimension stone has started about 20 years ago in the region on a very
small scale and in absence of government regulation. These early quarry operations were
dispersed and often hidden from view and much of the early production was used as
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flooring for local cowsheds. The production has after been increased during the recent
decades due to the growing use of dimension stones in the domestic housing industry
(external walls, sidewalks, pavement and floors) and a wider export market in neighboring
MERCOSUR countries (South American Economic block formed by Brazil, Argentina,
Paraguay, Uruguay and recently Venezuela). In the year 2000, the production of
dimension stone from quarry operations represented the main economic activity in four
out of five cities in the northeast region of Rio de Janeiro State.
The estimative was in 2008 that there were about 80 stone quarries and 70 stone cutting
shops and, moreover, several ancillary firms involved in providing transportation services,
spare parts, and other supplies used by the quarries and cutting shops. The income
provided by those operations was estimated to be around US$ 30 million a year. Most of
the firms operating in the region are small, employing on average ten workers. The
majority of the quarry owners own the local stone cutting shop as well.
In 1996, the environment state agency and the mineral resources bureau began a program
to legalize the operations in order to ensure the compliance with federal, state and local
laws. Since 1999, a persistent work has been carried out by a group of institutions and
agencies and involving the participation of the majority of the mineral producers and local
community to implement a multi-stakeholder approach to the mineral cluster based on
the already exposed “Consensus Building Methodology”. The CETEM has developed
important technologies in the region such as a stone saw-cutting mud tailings recovery
and a mortar factory using tailings as input at Padua cluster.
In order to construct a proper sustainability matrix for business assessment and
monitoring, some meaningful features related to the quarries’ productive cycle and
operations have been researched and studied. According to Peiter and Villas Boas (2000):
1) Technologic intensity: is considered generally as low technology intensive. The
dimension stone in the region is easily split. Consequently, quarry workers employ
simple hand tools to split the blocks, and on occasions use explosives. More
recently the well-known burner/cutting device called “jet flame” has been used.
The blocks are detached and toppled by hand, as the majority of the quarries do
165
not have lifting equipment and the machine used in the cutting shops can only
handle stones that are not very thick.
2) Environmental impact: there has been historically in the region a trend of not
enforcing environmental laws. The low use of technology and the poor training of
workers, quarry and cutting shops’ owners have generally paid little attention to
the environmental impact of their respective activities. The most environmental
impact emanating from the operations include:
 Water pollution as a result of solid residues from cutting operations
entering the local water supply;
 The dumping of waste rock around the quarry sites;
 Noise pollution.
Toxic chemicals are not used and so there is no evidence of dangerous levels of
toxic contamination in the soil or in the local water supply.
3) Social impact: the most positive by-product of the labour-intensive nature of
the quarry operations has been the creation of over 5000 jobs during the
period where the prices of dimension stones were high. The payment of quarry
workers is usually higher than the ones of farm workers. In all these jobs are
important as a source of income in a poor region of Brazil. One common
worry present among the quarry workers is that of losing their jobs, as they
have few job skills and live in a poor region where there are scarce options for
employment. Historically there has been poor use of safety equipment, as most
of workers do not understand that long-term exposure can lead to illness such
as silicosis, as a consequence of inhaling dust while working in the quarries, or
to deafness from excessive noise levels in the cutting shops, also others injuries
to eyes and limbs during the splitting of the dimension stones, and further
complications from inadequate handling and maintenance of explosives.
Nowadays, however, there is a growing concern among agencies and some of
the workers about the safety problems and some providence has started to be
set.
4) Economic impact: Because the studied quarries and cutting shops have
operated outside the formal economy, they had not paid federal, state or local
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taxes. The lack of control has caused a further economic (and environmental)
consequence traduced in terms of inefficient use of mineral resources in the
region: the Centre for Mineral Technology (CETEM) has calculated that
around 50% of dimension stone by weight has been lost due to the use of low
technology and the incorrect use of explosive.
Figure 91: Typical quarry operation in the Pádua region. Source: Peiter and Villas Boas(2000) [31]
Figure 92: Rock hand splitting at the quarry site. Source: Peiter and Villas Boas(2000) [31]
167
Figure 93: Typical cutting shop. Source: Peiter and Villas Boas(2000) [31]
For the present case study, as production factors set for the first column of the
sustainable matrix, six aspects have been chosen:
I)
Raw material/ore: the main reason for a mineral cluster to exist;
II)
Technology (Production) model: the most widespread production path/flow
sheet adopted by companies at the cluster;
III)
Labour skill level: reflects the average level of education and/or technical skills
of working people in the cluster;
IV)
Entrepreneurial model: must reflect usual production/trade organization
procedures at play;
V)
Government intervention/aid: reflects the way institutions and government
agencies intervene in the cluster;
VI)
Finance institutions participation: includes all credit and loan organizations
contributing to the cluster (banks, development agencies etc.).
The “Sustainability Matrix” has been computed for the year 2000 and then reassessment
has been done in the year 2007.
In 2000, it has been observed that the “Entrepreneurial model” (factor IV) was the most
negative to impact sustainability. The main reason is the selfish way quarry owners
behave, forcing price drops and fostering further increase on informal activity to avoid
taxation. The “Raw Material Availability” factor had a positive effect, especially due to the
widespread and homogeneous type of stone (a sort of gneiss), which gave an opportunity
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for several poor people to start their own quarry or find a job placement. The “Finance
Institutions” did not offer suitable conditions for small producers to apply even for small
loans, justifying the tendency to insistent high level of informality.
The evaluation of the sustainability aspect (columns) grade summed up shows that the
environmental aspect was the worst one, particularly because of the bad performance on
the technology model, which revealed the lack of knowledge on good practices in quarry
exploitation, thus generating high losses of resources favoured by the need to lower
operating costs.
The economic aspect was also problematic since stone price fell down more than 50 %
due to the raise of stocks offerings made by extensive informal production and to the lack
of actions in engaging producers in a cooperative way to solve their common problems.
The Social aspect was the one that showed the best evaluation, especially due to jobs
generation, and represent the main reason for the government institutions and agencies to
keep trying to organize and help quarry owners and workers.
The overall grade obtained by the cluster was -3, meaning a slightly unsustainable
situation.
169
Table 40: “Sustainability Matrix” for the Padua natural stone cluster, year 2000 Source: Peiter and Villas Boas [28].
In 2007, a new sustainability assessment has been proceeded. During the six years interval
between the evaluations, several activities have been performed to support the cluster and
to address solutions against its main weaknesses. Economic policies emphasized the
importance of clusters in the national economy and proposed special financial aid and
support. Other stakeholders have joined the cause and federal agencies set out a
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commitment with the mineral producers to improve environment features levels
otherwise their quarries should be shut down. The producers association started
negotiations to set adequate targets and better conditions to be followed by the small
producers. A recent provincial industrial development policy created lower taxation and
other subsidies for companies to build their facilities in the Padua cluster region. One
important result came from one building materials company, devoted to prefabricated
mortars, which has installed a factory that is going to recover one of the tailings produced
by the cutting shops, mixing it to the mortar composition and almost eliminating totally
this kind of polluting material. The use of very fine particulates that come out of the
grinding of stone was developed by CETEM and disseminated through most of the
Padua´s stone saw-splitting facilities, promoting 90% water recycling and a sharp decrease
of solids release on brooks and small ponders used also by cattle farmers.
Other successful initiative was performed to improve trade and commercialization skills
to promote exports. A group of producers are now partners to meet exports scale
contract needs that would not be feasible without a consortia formation.
When comparing the 2000-year Sustainable Matrix with the one of 2007, the overall
“sustainability rating” increased, indicating a positive shift in the cluster sustainability
performance. Almost all factors experienced positive changes, while just one factor kept
unchanged. The main influence is attributed to government/private institutions
intervention and cluster supporting projects. Finance support and entrepreneurial model
are the factors expected to soon improve the sustainability indicators in the cluster due to
present day initiatives undertaken by development agencies and the Union of producers.
The 2007-year Sustainability Matrix result (8+) revealed a positive trend in cluster
development towards sustainability, despite still requiring several steps before reaching a
truly sustainable situation.
Three sustainability aspects showed positive trends but the environmental was the one
that undertook more improvements in the stakeholders’ opinion.
On the other hand, the social aspect kept the main contribution (4+) to the overall
sustainability result showing that jobs in the mineral sector still are the better alternative
for wealth distribution.
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The “economic aspect” has to be seen in a broader way, since the natural stone
production is connected to housing, buildings and infrastructure sectors on which the
Brazilian growth rates in the year were very low, what reflected on the low stone selling
prices in the domestic market. Exports are another option to trade but still very modest if
compared to other similar clusters, such as the slate one in Minas Gerais state.
Note: to evaluate how those initiatives have interfered in the Padua natural stone cluster
the new stakeholder consultation was conducted and twenty people, among technical staff
from government agencies, clusters subject experts and the president of the mineral
producers union, were asked to give their opinions. Out of those twenty people, six gave
their complete views by fulfilling an individual matrix. From those, two of them
participated in the first exercise and four have been deeply involved in technical projects
and/or in political aspects regarding the cluster. Other two experts offered comments on
specific topics since they had not a broad view from the cluster.
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Table 41: Sustainability Matrix for the Padua natural stone cluster, year 2007. Source: Peiter and Villas Boas [29].
173
Table 41: Sustainability Matrix for the Padua natural stone cluster, year 2007. Source: Peiter and Villas Boas [29].
174
CHAPTER 7: SSM AND A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL &
CONCLUSIONS
VII.1. A practical approach for Assessment and Management of resources and
reserves in SSM:
The present model has originally been developed and tested at the Department of Mining and
Petroleum Engineering of the University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, and was firstly thought for the
management of small-scale gold mines in the South American zone.
In collaboration with the Laboratory of mining optimization and planning (LAPOL) of the cited
Department, it has been idealized a model for assessment and management of resources
and reserves in dimension stone quarries. The idea is now to use the here exposed model
in practical cases in small-scale dimension stone quarries, particularly in Brazil, to assess
the expected profitability of the SSM business to be start up and thus its financial
attractiveness to potential investments at national or international level.
Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM and SSM) are well-known sources of
environmental, health, safety and financial risks. The most viable alternative for such
activities is therefore to shift towards responsible operations. According to Seccatore et
al(2013) [35], this can be done by turning an ASM operation into a sustainable and
profitable SSM industrial extractive unit. In this attempt, capital investment is needed
from external investors. The main challenge, therefore, is to make ASM attractive for
investment. The approach proposed is based on a main differential from large-scale
mining: the attractiveness for external investments only lies in proving, in the early stages
of the business, a minimum mineral reserve able to rapidly return the investment
committed to upgrade the artisanal operation into a small-scale industrial one, plus an
attractive and expected estimated profit. The fundamental concepts are “minimal reserve
to be proved” and “replication”.
Actually, from Singer and Kouda (1999), the high investments associated with the
installation of a mine or quarry require careful management of risks associated with the
business. That includes accurate geological exploration research, detailed analysis, review
and modeling of technical data on the indicated resources, as well as the study of
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alternative mining scenarios to exploit such resources in order to prove it as a reserve.
This referred initial preparation work is costly. While broadly diffused in a standardized
manner in Large-Scale Mining- with large investments applied and state-of-the-art
technologies employed- shifting to the Small-Scale Mining, the exploratory and modeling
phases are generally neglected due to lack of capital and funds. From Seccatore et.al
(2012), the main path to turn an ASM operation into a sustainable and profitable SmallScale industrial extractive unit is the concept of “efficiency in productivity”, that is indeed
a challenging task in SSM, due to the restricted availability of initial investment capitalconsequence of generally high risks of the operation and little guarantee of return and
financial success (the SSM for investors is usually less attractive and not very encouraging
for investments). Frequently is thus created what is called a “gambling” scenario for ASM
operations: with limited economic resources available, the investment occurs directly on
the operational phase- without previous geological research, usually skipping this
exploration phase and immediately proceeding with extraction after discovery and
restricting the information on available information, past experience and simply on
instinct. Lacking methodology, such a procedure engenders highest levels of uncertainty
and hence a lack of credibility for investors: a “vicious circle” is then automatically
triggered commonly in SSM operations. The present tools is intended to “untrigger” this
vicious circle and manage the resources and reserves for SSM operations in a sustainable
way by aiming to convert an artisanal operation (ASM) into a small-scale responsible
enterprise.
A key-concept for enabling a sustainable SSM business is providing technical knowledge
based on geological exploration, engineering, mineral processing and more efficient
equipment. However, since a common figure is that a small-scale mine or quarry does not
have the necessary capital resources for such activities, an interesting and smart alternative
is the one of establishing partnerships with external investors capable of providing the
investment capital to launch and structure the business.
The here exposed approach is based on proving, in the early stages of the business, only a
minimum mineral reserve able to return the investment committed to upgrading the ASM
into a small-scale industrial one, encompassing an estimated and desirable profit. As
mineral exploration, at any scale, is typically a high risk investment activity, the central
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idea is to only invest what is absolutely necessary in the mineral exploration phase and
then cyclically replicate the minimum reserve approach exploration process, employing
part of the proceeds from the sale of the produced mineral to prove the viability of the
continued operation.
It is important to clarify, by the way, that geological exploration for large-scale miningdifferently from the proposed approach- follows the concept of high investment to prove
the largest amount of reserves possible and so estimate the life-time-of-mine NPV of the
project. In the case of the present model, this traditional approach is not applicable. In
fact, the proposed model considers that SSM is characterized by quick installation, rapid
payback and high flexibility and, therefore, the time horizon of investments is short (e.g.
one year time) in such a way that discounting rates that would be necessary to calculate
NPV for large-scale quarries can be here omitted.
The model consists on a system of equations where, setting a required minimal reserve
(known parameter) and the exploration cost associated to it (empirically known from
analog cases), the profit of a small-scale dimension stone business can be estimated in
order to attract investments to enable the root of a sustainable business.
(1) For a given proven reserve base, the quantity of dimension stone that is actually
mined depends on the mining recovery (ηM). The mining recovery is the ratio
between the volume of extracted stone and the volume of material available in the
exploited deposit and is usually lower than one, because part of the rock is left in
place (ηM≤1):
(1), where:
;
;
(2) Out of the total volume of rock which is mined, as a consequence of quarrying
method, excavation techniques and subsequent general conditions of the rock
extracted, part of the volume cannot be marked and therefore is not used for
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commercial blocks production. The further ration between the effective volume
(blocks) obtained and the total volume of the bench originally detached is called
quarrying yield (ηQ≤1):
(2), where:
;
;
(3) After the quarrying phase, the extracted rock must be processed in order to obtain
the final commercial block. Therefore, it is necessary to take into account the
processing recovery in the laboratory and sawing processing facilities:
(3), where:
;
;
(4) When a resource is qualified as indicated, capital is invested to characterize part of
it as measured resources, and then mine planning and engineering studies are
conducted to characterize the measured volume as proven resources. The value of
the proven resources depends on the costs of geological exploration in order to
prove the reserves and the fixed capital costs (the so-called CAPEX) to start up
the mining operation. As before commented, SSM is usually lacking capital for
geological exploration and thus that capital should be provided by an external
investor. If a small-scale business is able to prove and then consequently recover a
reserve over a short term, obtaining a rapid payback, it will be financially attractive
to investors. In the SSM, in effect, the capital cost of exploration cannot be
separated from the start-up costs- they will constitute a small-scale “package” of
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capital investment to allow the characterization of the minimum reserve to be
proved and then will be followed by planning, start-up, production recovery and
sale of the product. The pay-back of the operation may be as short as one year.
The value of the initial capital investment is calculated according to (4):
(4), where:
;
, which is function of the conditions
of the mineral deposit, if it easily accessible, superficial, etc. (varies from deposit to
deposit);
The voices of cost-fixed investment in the Equation 4 depend on the required
productivity Pr (m3/year), which determines the choices of machinery,
infrastructure, engineering etc. Moreover, the relationship between productivity
and each of the components of the total fixed investment is not linear. Due to
production scale and technical issues, only each component of the first term (M, S,
P, V, E) can be linked to productivity through a single specific correlation that
takes into account the mechanical properties of the specific equipment and the
characteristics of the rock to be mined.
(5) When quarry is started up, the cost of the operation is characterized by the unitary
cost of each phase of the recovery process, composing the so-called OPEX:
(5), where:
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(6) The income of the operation depends on the price of the mineral product on the
market (p: price of the mineral product or commercial block
). The gross
income is thus defined as the revenues from the selling of the recovered mineral
minus the operating costs and the exploration costs:
(6)
(7) From the investor’ s standpoint, the required gross income for the quarry to be
efficient (viable) can be defined as the one that returns the initial investments
produces a desired profit:
(7)
(8) Composing the equations (6) and (7):
(8)
(9) Considering the desired or expected PROFIT as the unknown variable, having all
the unitary costs as constants, and noticed the reserves of dimension stone that
have been proved with a determined cost (CE: Cost of exploration), it is possible
to calculate the expected profit of the business to be reported to investors:
(9)
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Note: At this stage of the research, taxes, financial costs, depreciation and inflation
were not considered for the sake of simplicity of the discussion.
(10)
The basis for a sustainable approach to SSM is a partnership between the
quarry owner and an external investor who provides the required initial investment
in the model. PROFIT can thus be divided into shares reflecting the margins for
investor, for the quarry owner, for further exploration to expand the business and
also a special fund for possible unforeseen events and an eventual quarry closure
(in the case of quarry operation is not viable to be continued and reinvesting
money is not worthy):
(10)
The margin to be dedicated to future exploration can be expressed as:
(11)
VR2 is the volume of the next proved portion of reserve which will produce a new
PROFIT 2, that will then be evaluated by investors as viable and attractive or notthe business goes on or can be stopped. In this case, even if this second proved
volume is evaluated to be too low for continuing the operation, money would not
be lost in further exploration and every involved stakeholder (investor and quarry
owner) leaves the business with reasonable and desired net profits. Therefore, a
cyclical framework is built for SSM based on minimal-reserve exploration (to
assure a desirable profit for investors and quarry owners) and replication-further
investment in geological exploration to expand the reserves and ensure future
production and profits. The volume of proved reserves is defined by stakeholders
of the project and depends on level of acceptable risks to the parties involved.
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Capital
Invest
Minimal
Reserve
to be
proved
Planning
Start
-up
Quarry
Production
Recovery
Market
Figure 94: Phases of the SSM business development according to the proposed model.
Figure 95: Framework of concepts: replication as a circle and the identification of the stakeholders.
Source: Seccatore et.al.(2013).
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VII.2. Best Practices, Instruments and Recommendations for a Sustainable
Model:
VII.2.a) Best Practices and Recommendations for a sustainable and responsible mineral
business:
From the RESPOMIN Latin American network of the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM)
[36], to face the diverse issues and problems of ASM, it is necessary to clarify the point of
what an ASM activity should be in order to become a responsible and sustainable
business. According to ARM, a responsible ASM enterprise “is a formalized, organized
and profitable activity, that uses efficient technologies and is socially and environmentally
responsible; it progressively develops within a framework of good performance, legality,
participation and respect for diversity; it increases its contribution to the generation of
decent work, local development, poverty reduction, and social peace in our nations,
stimulated by a growing consumer demand for sustainable minerals and jewelry”. The
Vision of Responsible Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining, also known as the “Quirama
Declaraion”, is committed to the Millennium Development Goals and the Johannesburg
Declaration [10] on sustainable development and to some specific principles:
 Human rights: the concept of responsible mining is based on the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights and on later UN declarations regarding the cultural,
social and economic rights of individuals. Community-based ASM operations must
respect the social, economic, cultural and labour rights of the involved miners and
communities, and their violation must be denounced;
 Decent work: work conditions shall follow the International Labour Organization
(ILO) Conventions and implies freedom, equality, safety and human dignity;
 Quality of life and sustainable human development: a responsible ASM contributes
to sustainable human development of communities and improves quality of life in
accordance with local values and priorities;
 Legality: complies with regional, local and national framework. Whether national
legislation does not recognize the legal rights of community-based small-scale
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miners, they have the potential support of ARM to lobby efforts for improving
national policies for responsible ASM in the zone;
 Environmental stewardship: foments the better preventative and restorative
environmental practices and the application of responsible methods of production.
Guarantees environmental protection, human health and ecological restoration in
the mined areas and mitigate negative impacts- minimizing the ecological footprint
of mining and when possible restoring, replacing or compensating for the loss of
biodiversity;
 Gender equality: women work is rewarded with a proper value and equity should
exist among men and women;
 Multicultural nature: ASM frequently takes place in contexts of ethnic and cultural
diversity and agreement among local traditional authority and communities must
be achieved.
One of the recent noticing initiatives launched by the Alliance for Responsible Mining has
been the fair trade approach. It consists basically on a fair-trade/fair-mined certification
for responsible ASM that, complying with social and environmental standards, are offered
with favorable market conditions and a fair-trade premium. Therefore, the certification
empowers small producers and foments entrepreneurship of artisanal miners through
sustainability principles. The approach is particularly incentivized by current trend of
demand for “ethical jewelry”, “green” mineral products (which comply with sustainable
standard throughout the whole supply chain), ethical sourcing of minerals and corporate
social responsibility from the part of the companies. One example of fair trade initiative is
the “Green Gold” or “Oro Verde” approach for gold ASM communities that trade and
mine under fair and ethical standards.
In order to establish a “Responsible Small Mining Business”, among the Best Practices
and Recommendations to be followed are:
 Strengthening organization: formalizing internal functioning and miners’
organization and business planning;
 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): necessity to consider the multi-stakeholder
reality of the mineral enterprise and to enrich the initiatives that strength wellbeing
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and sustainable development of the local communities. CSR includes promoting
alternative livelihoods, resettlement and livelihood rehabilitation, as well as
infrastructures’
building,
consumer
reporting,
publication
of
corporate
environmental principles and conflict management. CSR indeed has recently
emerged as integral and complementary components of mining operations
globally;
 Collaborate to establish a legal framework to support SSM at national, regional and
local scale and creation of small-scale regulations and codes of practices;
 Social performance: commitment to improving social and living conditions in the
communities and mitigating conflicts;
 Transparent operations, stakeholders’ consultation and participation, and social
license to operate: the extractive projects should receive the so-called FPIC- “free,
prior and informed consent” from impacted communities;
 Sustainable engagement win-win strategies with large-scale mining companies:
mapping involved stakeholders’ interests and understanding peculiarities of the
SSM miners;
 Environmental performance: implementing measures to reduce environmental
burdens from operations and introduce land management policies. In the case of
gold, for instance, it is necessary to reduce mercury and cyanide intensity use,
whole ore amalgamation, open amalgam burning, discharge of contaminated
tailings and uncontrolled leaching and encourage gold processing by gravimetric
methods without mercury and cyanide. The minimization of environmental
impacts should encompass the entire life cycle of the mine, from exploration,
through extraction and processing and including ecosystem rehabilitation and
reclamation;
 Quarrying method optimization: in the case of dimension stones, recommendable
is the investment in technical studies for:
 Quarrying optimization;
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 Improvement of excavation technique, including adequate choice of
explosive type for promoting proper benches’ detaching, with minimum
plausible irregular surfaces;
 Technical-economic and environmental comparison for different available
techniques: dynamic splitting vs. diamond wire sawing for hard and
abrasive rocks; assess chain cutter, flame-jet and other techniques sitespecific efficiency for other dimension stones realities;
 Sustainability assessment through Sustainability matrix;
 Business planning and potential strategies formulation towards Sustainable
S.W.O.T. analysis;
 LCA for addressing decisions and monitoring environmental impacts over
the time.
 Safety performance: compliance with security and safety standards;
 Economic performance: investment in productivity and eco-efficiency in
mining/quarrying structures and processing plants. Establishment of documentary
traceability of operations and supply chain;
 Partnerships among small-quarries and small-mines owners: empowers ASM and
SSM and allows the creation of common facilities and central management for
landfills, contracts and legal support;
 Development of education and training programs: specialized consultancy and
expertise should be incentivized in order to build capacity of miners and local
capacities where they work are likely to bring benefits to productivity, safety and
mitigate risks. Some astonishing best practices:
 Technical education, practices to address safety, health, and environmental
risk management and planning;
 Orientation courses to familiarize miners with sustainable development
and its challenges;
 Tools, skills and disciplinary courses to environmental projects;
186
 Engineering knowledge to mineral processing and mining.
 Strengthening cooperation and partnerships amongst mining SMEs and
institutions, NGOs and development agencies;
 Management
towards
sustainability:
employing
strategic
tools
such
as
environmental reviews, environmental accounting, auditing and reporting and
waste management;
 Risk assessment and management, periodic monitoring and verification of the
business;
 Collaboration with local governments for mine development and closure and
social interventions;
 Stewardship: regularly assessing technical and environmental conditions
throughout the stages of the operation, including before starting-up a new project
and along the production process.
VII.2.b) Instruments & Tools:
The task of framing mineral industry structures and Small-Scale mining operations
through a business model that truly supports sustainable development involves diverse
inputs, among them eco-efficient, technical-efficacy, impact assessment and mitigation,
systemic mining management, and supply chain synergies. According to Corder et.al. [37],
the improvement in operational methodologies throughout the life stages of the mining
operation and product are a necessary component to ensuring long term viability under
environmental, social, governmental and economic constraints. Several approaches and
tools have been developed in an attempt to assist the design and operational phases of
mining and quarrying process with achieving sustainable development. The instruments
researched are supporting models for enabling new mineral business models based on the
provision of products for a sustainable economy. However, it is important to notice that
the panorama here presented is not exhaustive and there is still meaningful gap to be
filled in terms of sustainable tools for mining, especially in terms of minerals processing,
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economic infrastructure and production and consumption mineral cycles in the wider
economy.
The available tools for sustainability assessment of mining SMEs can generally be
grouped in terms of the phase of application and the elements of sustainability assessed
(Figure 96).
Figure 96: Sustainable Development Tools and their place in the life cycle of a mining operation. Source: Corder
et.al.(2009).
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Figure 97: Description of available sustainability tools across the project and production cycles of an operation.
Source: Corder et.al.(2009).
The frameworks presented in Figure 96 are able to form the basis for sustainability
integration into design and operation of a mining project, having three out of those
frameworks special spotting role:
a) Mining, Minerals and Sustainable Development (MMSD) project: focuses on governance
and company-community interaction in decision making, although it does not
address in detail social-environmental issues. In terms of practical application, the
model is based on the Seven Questions (7Q’s) to sustainability assessmentengagement; people; environment; economy; traditional and non-market activities;
institutional arrangements and governance; synthesis and continuous learning.
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Figure 98: The 7Q’s for sustainability assessment. Source: IISD.
b)
International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) sustainability principles: in
conjunction with the Australian mineral industry and its “Enduring Value”
implementation guidance and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is a possible
application-end framework towards sustainability. The “Enduring Value” is a
platform for industry's continual improvement in managing environmental
issues, providing a vehicle for industry differentiation and leadership; building
reputational capital with the community, government and the finance and
insurance sectors; and assisting the industry to operate in a manner which is
attuned to the expectations of the community, and which seeks to maximize the
long-term benefits to society. It can be achieved through the effective
management of natural resources. The GRI, moreover, is a non-profit
organization that produces one of the world’s most prevalent standards for
sustainability reporting (‘Ecological Footprint Reporting’, ‘Environmental Social
Governance reporting’-ESG, ‘Triple bottom line reporting’-TBL- and ‘Corporate
social responsibility reporting’-CSR);
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c) Battelle’s sustainable business decision framework: is based on strong stakeholder
identification aspect, potentially assisting to maintain the focus of the design or
assessment on the specific impacts of the operations.
In addition, the present thesis proposes two models to implement the Systemic
Management of the small-scale mineral business in a sustainable, holistic and responsible
manner:
d) International Training Center for Artisanal Miners (ITCAM): the model has been
idealized at the Laboratory LAPOL, Department of Mining and Petroleum Engineering of
the University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil, and is part of the “Small is Beautiful
Engineering”(SiBe) project. It is basically based on the concept of a mine-school
and consists on installing international mining training centers for artisanal and
small miners in SSM hotspots.
The idea is to offer a sort of consulting and adequate mining, quarrying and
processing know-how and expertise by specialized staff. The training team
includes university laboratories (of characterization, mining and processing),
engineers, mining and environmental engineering students and researchers and
prepared operators. The framework encompasses:
 Training, capacitating and operationally certificating operators, small miners
and quarries;
 Professional improvement and methodological optimization;
 Enabling better sustainable performance of ASM;
 Teaching the use of more sustainable techniques (e.g.: mercury-free
technologies for gold ASM);
 Developing and testing innovative technologies in the installed pilot
laboratory and future adaptation to productive scale;
 Conduction of experiments and practical actions to reduce negative
externalities of SSM (pollution, poverty, exploitation etc.);
 Creating positive externalities of SSM (education, culture etc.);
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 Enabling businesses’ economical self-sustainability by revenues from the
plant, consultancy services of the labs, project development and teaching
classrooms/lectures center.
The educational mining center contains laboratories for mineral processing;
mining and quarrying operations; job safety; and health and classrooms for lectures
on technical-economic and socio-environmental relevant aspects for achieving
long-term sustainability of the business.
Figure 99: The ITCAM- model scheme. Source: LAPOL, PMI- University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
e) Sustainable PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) for Systemic Management of a Responsible SmallScale Mine/Quarry: the present work proposes a framework for implementing a
sustainable small-scale mineral business inspired on a Systemic Mining
Management approach. The model employs the concept of enabling the structural
organization of the small mine or quarry supported by the here called Sustainable
PDCA (Plan- Do-Check-Act) Cycle. In each of the phases of the cycle are
suggested to use some of the studied tools previously employed in the described
case studies (naturally, further sustainability tools are encouraged to be used
whether allowing a better overall management of the business towards sustainable
development):
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Figure 100: The Sustainable PDCA Cycle for Systemic Mining Management- model scheme.
VII.3. Conclusions:
Considering the aims and objectives established at the first section of the work, it can be
said that the attempts set a priori have been achieved. A wide bibliographic review on the
Small Mining concept has been proceeded, allowing the acquisition of concrete
knowledge about the theme and its main associated issues, figures and challenges
worldwide. A theoretical confronted comparison has been done between developed and
industrialized mining realities and developing, artisanal and impacting ones. The practical
task of establishing and developing case studies reality could be successfully completed by
analyzing two different contexts: an artisanal small-scale mining cluster (gneiss dimension
stone) in Rio de Janeiro state, in Brazil, and a mineral basin composed of various smallscale gneiss quarries in ‘Luserna’ and ‘Rorà’ localities, in Italy. Important lessons have
been learnt, relevant best practices suggestions could be acquired and the application of
up-to-date, efficient and valuable sustainability tools (LCA, Sustainable S.W.O.T.,
Sustainability Matrix) has been possible and has allowed the idealization of a general
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framework for the systemic management of small-scale mineral business towards a
sustainable, responsible and smart philosophy.
The sustainable models proposed for setting a “Responsible Small Mining” include
ITCAM (International Center for Artisanal Miners) as an educational and capacitating
initiative for small-scale business knowledge and expertise enabling; the “Practical
Approach for Assessment and Management of resources and reserves in SSM”; the LCA
internationally
renowned framework; the “Sustainability Matrix” and the strategic
planning tool through “Sustainable S.W.O.T. Analysis”.
The final proposed methodology has been the Sustainable PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act)
Cycle, comprehending the integration, cooperation and holistic application of the
sustainable tools studied in order to grant the Systemic Mining Management of SMEs.
To complement and enrich the current work, this Master Thesis aims to continue the
studies and analysis here exposed settling a follow-up project in Small-Scale Mining
engineering support and sustainable assessment and development.
There is the actual intention to encourage the prosecution of the work in collaboration
with the University of Sao Paulo and the Politecnico di Torino, objectifying to test the practical
availability of the models- especially the Practical Approach for Assessment and
Management of resources and reserves in SSM and the Sustainable PDCA Cycle- in a real
dimension stone small-scale quarry in Brazil and, furthermore, to promote a rich technical
expertise exchange between the Italian and the Brazilian dimension stone extractive
industries.
In conclusion, the general ambition of this thesis is to foment a new sustainable business
paradigm, able to pervade the contemporary society and economy. As Schumacher (1985)
have quoted in his “Small is Beautiful” philosophy:
“Economic development is something much wider than economics- let alone
econometrics. Its roots lie outside the economic sphere, in education, organization,
discipline and, beyond that, in political independence and a national consciousness of selfreliance…this is real life, full of antinomies and bigger than logic. Without order,
planning, predictability, central control, accountancy, instructions to the underlings,
obedience, discipline-without these, nothing fruitful can happen, because everything
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disintegrates. And yet- without the magnanimity of disorder, the happy abandon, the
entrepreneurship venturing into the unknown and incalculable, without the risk and the
gamble, the creative imagination rushing in where bureaucratic angels fear to treadwithout this, life is a mockery and a disgrace”.
195
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