Sustainable mining. To what extent do current patent innovations focus on sustainability and resource efficiency?


Bachelor Thesis, 2016
88 Pages, Grade: 3.8/4.0

Excerpt

Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Background
1.2 Problem statement
1.3 Purpose of this study
1.4 Methodology
1.5 Contribution of the research
1.6 Limitations

Chapter 2: Literature Review
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Business and sustainability
2.3 Business in Resource Constrained Environment (R.C.E)
2.4 Mining industry overview
2.5 Sustainable mining
2.6 Sustainable mining frameworks
2.7 Mining Operations in developing countries
2.8 Mining operations in developed countries
2.9 Current tailing and waste management practices
2.10 Current innovation in mining sector
2.11 Best Practice in the mining sector
2.12 Other Innovations that would enhance the mining sector
2.13 Reasons why Mining firms should adopt sustainability practices and clean production
2.14 Literature summary

Chapter 3.0: Methodology
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research Ontology
3.3 Research Epistemology
3.4 Research Design:
3.5 Research Methods
3.6 Ethical considerations
3.7 Content Analysis and Documentation
3.8 Conducting content analysis research
3.9 Data Collection: step by step to collecting data from patent office data bases
3.10 Data Analysis

Chapter 4: Findings and Discussions

Chapter 5: Recommendations and Conclusions

References

Appendices:

Reflective report

Abstract

Eco-innovations are being regarded as essential products or processes that not only help in fostering sustainable development but also help in creating and enhancing new business opportunities (Albino et al, 2014)

Over the years, the public view of the mining sector has been negative due to the pollution it brings (Fonseca, 2013). Therefore the sector is challenged to show that it can contribute to the welfare by minimizing pollution through eco-innovations.

This thesis examines patent documents as sources of eco-innovations that would improve the sector. In this thesis, European and United States patent offices have been used as data bases. It follows that a total of 51 patent documents were obtained from US patent office and 128

patent documents from European patent office. However 45 patent documents were suitable for cross-sectional analysis through content analysis.

Researcher’s findings from 45 patents that were analyzed show that innovations in sustainability seem to be an area of interest amongst inventors. On the other hand, trends and patterns show that innovations in energy efficiency and sustainability have been issued more compared to waste management innovations. The researcher explains the logic that since energy efficient innovations and sustainability innovations aim to reduce pollution and wastes, hence little can be paid waste management innovations rather than to be ignored.

Acknowledgement

I would kindly like to first thank my supervisor Dr. Sarah Williams for her guidance that has been inspirational from when I was writing the proposal for this thesis. Secondly I would like to thank Dr. Alexander K Kofinas with whom I first discussed the prospect of doing a thesis on mining back in august 2015. I would also like to thank his idea on the feasibility of doing patent analysis for this thesis.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background

Mining activities have been a source of income in different parts of the world. However mining activities pose threats to the environment in both local and regional scales (Escanciano et al 2010). Therefore the mining sector is confronted to prove that it is able to fully incorporate

sustainability practices (Hilson and Murck, 2000), that is, it can contribute to both the welfare and well-being of the current generation without compromising future generations’ welfare and well-being (Azapagaic, 2004).

The concept of sustainable mining has offered contradictory views amongst authors. Young and Septoff (2002), Mudd (2007) and Petrie et al (2007) argued that mining activities are inherently unsustainable unless the sciences to report and assess mining activities are sufficiently developed.

Porters and Kramer (2011) and Veleva et al (2015) complimented Hilson and Murck (2000), Young and Septoff (2002), Mudd (2007) and Petrie et al (2007) that the mining sector faces complexity and uncertainty as key challenges in incorporating sustainability practices. Amongst the challenges found in the literature are waste management and energy efficiency. Hence mining companies need to prove that they are able to adopt sustainable mining operations by overcoming these challenges.

1.2 Problem statement

As explained in the background of this thesis, there has been little agreement amongst authors on the concept of sustainable mining. In addition to this, the society’s has had a negative view of the sector due to the pollution it brings (Fonseca, 2013). Based on these concepts/arguments knowledge will be researched by analyzing patent documents to answer the following research questions

RQ1: how far innovations in fields of sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency could be adopted in developing countries?
RQ2: how far current innovation in the mining sector focuses on delivering sustainability?
RQ3: what are the opportunities to improve the environmental conservation of the sector in terms of waste management and energy efficiency?

1.3 Purpose of this study

Therefore the aim of this dissertation is to critically evaluate how miners in developing countries (For example Tanzania, where the researcher of this study comes from) can utilize available resources efficiently without severely harming the environment.

It follows that the objectives of this research are

- To critically evaluate how far innovations in fields sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency could be adopted in developing countries
- To critically evaluate how far current innovation in the mining sector focuses on delivering sustainability
- To critically evaluate opportunities to improve the mining sector in terms of energy efficiency and waste management

1.4 Methodology

The researcher adopted relativism Philosophy that truth or knowledge is created (Killam, 2013) by staying close to what’s being observed hence an intepretivist (Franklin, 2009 and Cresswell, 1984) On the other hand, the research design implemented in this research is a cross-sectional analysis whereas the chosen research method is qualitative content analysis. The findings were then analyzed to draw conclusions.

1.5 Contribution of the research

This study makes a very important contribution to the existing knowledge in mining. First, the research contributes to the existing knowledge on what sustainable mining is, that is, it discloses mining frameworks and eco innovations (in fields of waste management, sustainability, and energy efficiency. Data was collected from high quality sources hence increasing the validity and reliability of this thesis.

In addition, this study would be appealing to a family business proposal of opening a mine in Tanzania in the next 5 years. This is because the innovations analyzed could be implemented in reducing pollution in Tanzania’s mining sector.

1.6 Limitations

This study was carried out using patent documents issued between 2010 and 2016. However, the most crucial limitations of this study were the search strings used in data collection, that is to say, different search strings were used in retrieving patent documents from United States patent office and European patent office. To ensure validity and reliability of this work, guidance was offered from these offices on how to retrieve patents from their databases (Attached in Appendices)

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This section explains the theoretical base of this thesis by reviewing various literatures that contribute to the knowledge on sustainable mining. Furthermore the research draws attention towards controversy amongst authors regarding sustainable mining. The other half of this chapter analyzes current innovation and summarizes opportunities to improve the mining sector

2.2 Business and sustainability

In recent years, there has been an increased interest from business to incorporate sustainability practices and principles so as to achieve their strategic goals and objectives (Lacy et al, 2015 and Gomes et al 2015). According to Azapagaic (2004), sustainability means the ability of business to acquire resources with minimum environmental harm.

This research follows the definition made by Blowfield (p7, 2013) and Veleva et al (2015) that sustainability covers the approaches taken by firms in enhancing shareholders’ value by creating new growth opportunities and proper management of business risk. This definition has been chosen since this study has a business focus.

2.3 Business in Resource Constrained Environment (R.C.E)

Today’s world is characterized with a growing population and limited or scarce resources; hence businesses in various sectors are required to operate sustainably (Lombardi, 2012 and Blowfield, 2013). However businesses are confronted with key sustainability challenges. Lawrence (2011) and Blowfield (2013) argued that uncertainty created by a shift from abundance world to a world of fewer or limited resources is one of the challenges facing today’s businesses.

Geng et al (2008), Shi et al (2012) and Veleva et al (2015) complimented the argu ment made by Lawrence (2011) and Blowfield (2013) that another key challenge for today’s businesses is Complexity in reducing their carbon footprints. Hence if businesses fail to address these key challenges will not only result into depletion of finite resources like fuels and minerals but also risks losing shareholders value (Giurco and Cooper, 2012 and Blowfield 2013)

2.4 Mining industry overview

According to Marketline (2015), the global mining industry reached a value of $2,489.5 Billion in the ear 2013. This was equivalent to 8.6% shrinkage in metric tons of minerals mined, whereby only 9722Million tons were mined compared to 10239.2Million tons in 2012 (Marketline, 2015 and Delloite, 2015). The industry is characterized with high capital costs and operations costs due to high compliance in remediation and environmental practices (Marketline, 2015). Amongst the leading companies in the world include; BHP Billiton Group, Glencore Xstrata PLC, Rio Tinto PLC and Vale S.A. On the other hand, recent advancement in technology has enabled these mining companies to make investment in developing countirs where they can access more mineral deposits (Headrick, 2015 and Marketline, 2015)

2.5 Sustainable mining

The view of the public towards the mining sector remains to be negative despite of the proliferation of sustainable mining initiatives that have been taken over the last decade (Fonseca et al, 2013). This can be due to the fact that the mining sector contributes to 1/3 rd of total anthropogenic pollution and the fact that it deals with non-renewable sources (UNEP, 2006 and Covalence 2009). Despite this skeptic view by the public, literatures have existed that shed light on what sustainable mining is.

According to CEC (2000), Ford (2005) and ICMM (2005) sustainable mining refers to ethical operations taken by mining firms that do not endanger societies’ ability to access quality resources (Air and water). However there has been little agreement amongst authors on what it means by sustainable mining operations.

Young and Septoff (2002) argued that mining operations or activities are inherently unsustainable. Petrie et al (2007) and Mudd (2007) complimented the argument made by Young and Septoff (2002) that it is very difficult for mining operations to be sustainable unless the science of assessing and reporting mining sustainably are sufficiently developed. This gap or controversy led to the development of sustainable mining frameworks that aim to assess and report mining operations sustainably (Vintro et al, 2013 and Lodhia and Hess, 2014)

2.6 Sustainable mining frameworks

These are the approaches or schemes that assist mining companies in implementing sustainable mining operations (Vintro et al, 2013 and Lodhia and Hess, 2014). According to GRI (2011) an example of sustainable mining framework that is widely used is the GRI-MMSS framework that compares and contrasts environmental performance of mines in relation to previous years. Another framework according to MAC (2012) is Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) that aims to monitor health and safety in mines, energy use in mines, tailing management in mines.

However according to Fonseca (2013), these two frameworks have weaknesses in the sense that they only focus on firms performance data and future implications of continuous mining operations are not forecasted. Despite this argument, recent metrics and indicators in the mining sector show that there is a gradual progression towards sustainable mining (Gray, 2010)

2.7 Mining Operations in developing countries

Over the last decade, mining operations have been the source of income for millions of people in developing countries (ILO, 1999 and Kristensen et al, 2014). However technology is not enhanced as methods and processes used in mining cause severe harm to the environment (Silvester and Neto, 2014), for example; the use of Mercury amalgamation in Gold mining operations in developing countries causes significant emissions into the air and water surfaces (Caravanos et al, 2013).

On the other hand, other hazards from mining processes such as dust, exposure to heavy metals from tailings have been the leading cause of respiratory diseases in developing countries such as lung cancer (Utembe et al, 2015). Also acid seepage has been a problem especially in South African mine in Hlalanikahle that led to fish death in Loskop dam (Jansson, 2015)

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Figure 1: Complexity of environmental issues: Acid mine drainage in developing countries, location: South Africa (Source: Jansson, 2015)

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Figure 2: Complexity of Environmental issues: improper tailing management at Loskop dam, South Africa (Jansson, 2015)

2.8 Mining operations in developed countries

According to Asif and Chein (2015), despite of proliferation of sustainable mining frameworks, the mining sectors in developed counties are still confronted with environmental challenges posed by mining operations. Challenges in waste management (waste disposal) has been reported to be a continuous pollution in many Canadian and USA mines resulting into leakage of wastes into lakes and rivers. For example in 2010, a proposal by a Canadian gold mine to dump its wastes (nearly 200,000 tons of tailing) into Mallard lake resulted into severe water contamination and fish death at Yew lake.

On the other hand, in august 2014 more than 20,000 residents were left without water after tailings from a gold mine in north Mexico were washed by heavy rains that caused tailings to overflow into water bodies (Wilton, 2014). On the other hand, Norgate and Haqie (2012) added that more than half of greenhouse gas emissions from mining operations in both developing and developed countries are due to robust energy consumption; hence the sector is challenged to reduce harmful emissions by deploying energy efficient systems.

2.9 Current tailing and waste management practices

The amount of tailings miners produce is directly proportional to magnitude of environmental hazards (DITR, 2007). Adiansyah et al, (2015) complimented the argument made by DITR (2007) by saying volumes of tailings miners produce pose a significant challenge in both storage and how these tailings should be managed and rehabilitated efficiently.

Tailing management is therefore considered to be a very crucial part in mining operations in preventing severity of environmental hazards such as acid mine drainage, loss of biodiversity, water contamination and being exposed to heavy metals such as chromium, mercury and lead (Lottermoser, (2010); Adiansyah et al (2015)). The following table was adapted from the work done by Asif and Chein (2015) on the current tailing management Advantages and disadvantages of current tailing and waste management methods according to the work done by Asif and Chein (2015)

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Figure 3: Current tailing methods according to the work done by Asif and Chein

2.10 Current innovation in mining sector

According to Metso (2014) there’s a demand for innovation in mine processes so as to minimize energy and water consumption which in turn helps in reducing pollution; greenhouse emission into the atmosphere and reduced risk of water scarcity.

The table below aims to analyze present technologies and innovation in mining operations as argued by Metso (2014)

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Figure 4: Innovation in the mining sector: Source: Metso, 2014

2.11 Best Practice in the mining sector

According to Tinney and Roe (2002), United Nations (2002), Ferguson (2011) and Franks et al (2011) best practice in the mining sector refers to adopting cleaner energy production systems so as to minimize environmental harm.

The researcher of this study created the table below aims to give an overview of how individual miners are incorporating sustainability and resource efficiency (energy and waste management). The table was created by combining pertinent literatures best practice in the mining sector.

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Figure 5: examples of best sustainable practice in the mining sector (Mbise, 2016)

2.12 Other Innovations that would enhance the mining sector

Innovation and technological development in the mining sector would not only stimulate growth of the sector but also enhance productivity and health and safety (Mason et al, 2011). Whyte et al (2015) argued that deploying of digital innovation in the mines would enhance decision making and lead to efficient and safer operations. The table below is the argument made by Whyte et al (2015) on the application of digital innovation in the Mining sector

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Figure 6: Other innovations that would improve the mining sector: Source: Whyte et al, 2015

2.13 Reasons why Mining firms should adopt sustainability practices and clean production

Academicians have studied the relationship between environmental issues and business strategies. According to Sanchez & Sahuqillo (2010) studied the two variables and argued that environmental strategies like waste reduction initiatives; energy conservation initiatives, recycling initiatives, and pollution prevention have led to reduction in operation costs.

This argument was supported by McLellan et al (2007) who said that initiatives in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Australian Iron and steel industry resulted to cost savings of $40million, furthermore energy efficiency initiatives resulted to cost saving of $120million. However literature emerged that offered contradictory findings that adopting clean production does not always save firms’ money. According to Tinney & Roe (2002), 5% of both capital and operation costs for a particular mining project comes from environmental protection and monitoring initiatives hence could be costly for new mining projects.

On the other hand, Hodge (2014) argued that if environmental concerns are neglected by mining companies so as for them to minimize operations and capital costs, mining projects and stakeholders relationships may be at risks and mining companies could face strategic risks. This was also supported by Frankes et al,( 2014) and Kirschke (2014) who studied the cost of conflict with stakeholders such as local community and concluded by saying that conflicts with local community may lead to stoppages and shut downs of mining operation that can cost a mining project approximately a hundred million dollars a year.

2.14 Literature summary

Findings from the literature suggest that the mining sector in both developed and developing countries face sustainability challenges; uncertainty in availability of resources and complexity reducing wastes. Also it has been found that reduction in energy consumption or using alternative energy sources significantly reduces emissions (Mclellan, 2007, Hazardous wastes consultants, 2013 and Metso, 2014).

Therefore the researcher has identified that the mining sector can be improved in three key areas; energy consumption, waste management and incorporating sustainability practices (recycling of mine wastes). Hence these key themes will coded to answer the objectives of this research on how far patent documents are focused on delivering sustainability, energy efficiency and waste management, and lastly how far these practices could be adopted in developing countries.

Chapter 3.0: Methodology

3.1 Introduction

This chapter explains the research philosophy, design, and step by step data collection procedures used in retrieving patents and the analysis of the patents.

The methodological aims and objectives of this research are to critically evaluate how far innovations in fields of sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency could be adopted in developing countries.

Information gathered will be a snapshot of how the mining sector is progressing towards innovation in sustainable mining (from 2010-2016) hence a cross-sectional research. Cross- sectional research has been adopted for this study due to limited resources and time constraints (Collis and Hussey, 2009).

3.2 Research Ontology

According to Killam (2013) argued that in academic research Ontology refers to researchers view or beliefs regarding the nature of reality. On the other hand, Dieronitou (2014) and Ahmed (2008) defined ontology in philosophical terms as the study of our existence and our nature of being. Authors have discussed that there are two branches of ontology, Realism and Relativism (Killam, 2013; Ahmed, 2008; Dieronitou, 2014) According to them, they stated that in realism truth can be measured and the researcher needs to be objective whereas in relativism truth is created and the researcher needs to dig deep to gain the knowledge.

The researcher aimed to talk to mining companies to measure the truth on how far sustainability, proper waste management and energy use are practiced in the mining sector. This would have followed realism approach to ontology. But due to limited access to mining companies, the researcher opted to conduct a patent analysis to reveal patterns and trends in innovation to make a general conclusion or theory on how sustainability, proper waste management and use of efficient energy systems can be applied to save the mining sector and improve the environment. With said, the researcher aims to follow a relativism approach to ontology due to the nature of the research (patent analysis) and to answer the objectives of this research.

3.3 Research Epistemology

Tennis (2008) defined epistemology as how we know things. On the other hand Killam (2013) supported the argument made by Tennis (2008) that epistemology originates from two Greek words Episte, that means knowledge and epistanal that means to know. This research follows the definition made by Killam (2013) that epistemology is the relationship the researcher has with his or her research. As explained in my research ontology that the researcher of this study follows a relativism approach which will dictate the researcher to use an Emic approach to epistemology; That is to say, in order for the researcher to create truth or theory or conclusion, the researcher needs to dig deep and stay close what is being observed (Franklin, 2009)

3.4 Research Design:

According to Killam (2013) and Cresswell (2014), research design is a logical and coherent strategy or framework which helps the researcher to effectively answer the research problem. The proposed research design for this research is a cross-sectional research design whereby it enables the researcher to collect data or variables as a snap shot of what is measured at a particular time (Saunders et al, 2012). Collins and Hussey (2009) argued that cross-sectional analysis can be opted by researchers due to researchers’’ limited time and resources.

Estrin (2008) supported the argument made by Collins and Hussey (2009) that it’s an inexpensive way of doing research and different variables can be compared and measured at the same time. Based on these arguments, it makes it suitable for the researcher of this study to analyze patterns and trends in innovation in fields of sustainability, energy eff iciency and waste management between 2010 and 2015. Other research designs include

- Case study research design: Bromley (1990) defined case study research design as an in-depth study about a particular case or field rather than collecting data by statistical surveys. He added on that it enables the researcher to narrow down a very broad research field into a manageable or researchable case or topic
- Longitudinal research design: Cresswell (2014) defined longitudinal research design as a way that helps the researcher to study about a particular population in specific intervals so as to study or examine effects of development or how the population develops overtime
- Experimental research design: according to Miller (1991) experimental research design involves testing researchers’ hypothesis by reaching valid conclusions about the relationship that exists between dependent and independent variables. In other words it’s a conceptual framework that is within the experiment, hence the researcher needs to control external factors from affecting the outcome of the experiment

3.5 Research Methods

According to Hussey and Hussey (1997) argued that there are two main research philosophies, positivist known as quantitative and interpretivist or phenomenological also known as qualitative. Positivistic paradigm research has some weaknesses that it imposes specific constraints to the results obtained and may disregard more interesting and more relevant findings (Hussey and Hussey, 1997). Johnson (2014) complimented the argument made by Hussey and Hussey (1997) that due to scientific and inflexible nature of positivistic research any inaccuracies will inevitably alter the end results.

For this reason interpretivist approach to research has been chosen for this research whereby it allows the researcher to interact with what is being researched (Creswell, 1994). In addition to this, the interpretivist or qualitative approach has been chosen to match researcher’s relativism ontology and Emic epistemology. Hence the researcher aims not use Nvivo software on this level of research, the researcher aims to be immersed in what is being researched and draw conclusions from what has been analyzed.

3.6 Ethical considerations

Saunders et al (p183-184, 2009) defined ethics as researcher’s behavior towards the rights of those who become the subject of the analysis/ research. The researcher of this stud y aims not to reveal or use inventors’ names but use patent numbers in the entire research; in other words, confidentiality and anonymity will be assured in all stages of this research. Data will be collected, analyzed and lawfully processed to answer the research objectives only.

3.7 Content Analysis and Documentation

According to Krippendorff (2013) content analysis has existed for about 60 years. Content analysis can be defined as a systematic and replicable technique used to compress many texts or words into fewer content categories on the basis of explicit rules of coding (Krippendorf, 1980 and GAO, 1996). Holsti (1969) defined content analysis as any technique used to make inferences by systematically and objectively identifying particular characteristics of messages.

According to Krippendoff (2013) and Neuerndorf (2002) argued that content analysis helps analyst to analyze images, texts, speech, videos, newspapers, magazines. In this research documents that will be analyzed are patent documents related to mining sector in specific fields according to the objectives defined in this research (sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency)

On the other hand, Stemler and Bebell (1998) according to their work explained that content analysis can be used to examine patterns and trends in documents. For this reason this research aims to examine patterns and trends of patents related to mining in energy, waste reduction or management and sustainability as key themes for analysis.

3.8 Conducting content analysis research

Krippendorff (1980) argued that in every content analysis research there are six questions that must be tackled or addressed. These are as follows:

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Figure 7: areas to be addressed in this research in accordance with Krippendorff (1980) six questions

However in spite of content analysis being a systematic technique there are at least three problems in assembling documents for content analysis (GAO, 1996), these are as follows

- When considerable number of documents for content analysis are missing, cont ent analysis should be abandoned
- When there are Inappropriate documents not matching the documents needed for content analysis, documents should be discarded but should be reserved as a record for a reason
- Documents matching content analysis requirements but can’t be coded since they miss or contain ambiguous contents should be discarded

Therefore the researcher will follow the procedures above described by Krippendorff, (1980) and GAO (1996) in obtaining and handling of patent documents.

3.9 Data Collection: step by step to collecting data from patent office data bases

In this research data will be collected from patent offices, European patent office and United States patent office. The reason why these databases have been selected is due to patents reliability and the fact that these databases are considered as a source for innovation studies (Kim and Lee, 2015). The keywords or search terms used in data collection or patent collection aimed to match the themes the researcher obtained from the lit erature review. The sample frames for this analysis are patents issued from years 2010-2016.

To ensure validity and reliability in my data collection, the researcher followed the guidelines from patent offices on how to obtain patents relevant to my field (attached in appendix). The patents were obtained by searching the patent abstract (that contains the summary of the invention in the relevant field) together with the date issued. The following are the steps the researcher used in obtaining the patents from patent offices.

United States database (USPTO):

- Visiting their homepage http://www.uspto.gov/
- Scrolling down to find “Learn about the process”
- Under “Learn about the process” click search for patents
- Under Search for patents page, the researcher followed the heading “USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database (PatFT)”
- Under USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database (PatFT) the researcher followed Advanced search link
- From there, Data was collected using the following queries
- ABST/mining AND ABST/energy AND ISD/1/1/2010->3/1/2016 whereby 34 patents were obtained (see Appendix 1)
- ABST/mining AND ABST/waste AND ISD/1/1/2010->3/1/2016 where 17 patents were obtained (see appendix 2)
- Whereby ABST means patent’s abstract and ISD means patents Issued date
- See Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 for data collected from USPTO

European Data Base (EPO)

The European patent database was used to support the number of patents required for analysis in fields of sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency. The European Data base offered a different approach to data collection, that is to say, keywords used in United States database (USPTO) did not bring the same results when used on the EPO data base; The results were of huge volumes. However, a different search string that was used in EPO data base offered the desired number of patents in fields of sustainability, waste management, and energy efficiency in the mining sector.

Steps taken to retrieve patents in European data base (EPO)

- Visiting their homepage https://www.epo.org/index.html
- On top of the page, patent search was clicked and then Advanced patent search was clicked as shown in the illustration below

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Figure 8: Retrieving patents from European patent office EPO

- The search terms and dates of publication were inserted in the following manner

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Figure 9: mine wastes was used in the patent abstract (as the abstract contains the summary of the invention related to mine wastes) and years 2010:2016 were used to retrieve patents published in those years. Patents retrieved through this search string covered sustainability, energy efficiency and waste management fields. (See Appendix 3 for data collected from EPO)

3.10 Data Analysis

A total of 51 patents were obtained from United States Patent Office USPTO but 36 patents were discarded for the following reasons;

x-they were not related to mining (20 patents)
- related to mining but not in the field of analysis of this research
- recurring patents: one patent being an update of previously issued patents in the field of analysis

it follows that, from Appendix 1 data set, patents with serial number 1, 3, 4, 7, 12, 18, 19,20, 21, 22, 23,25, 31 were not related to mining, 11, 26, 29, 34, 8, were related to mining but not in the field of analysis, 14, 17, 24, 27, 31, 32, 33, were recurring patents hence were discarded whereas from appendix 2 data set, patents with serial number 1, 5,6,10,15,16,17 were not related to mining, patent with serial number 12 was related to mining but not in the field of analysis, and patents with serial number 2,8,11 were recurring patents hence were discarded for analysis.

Therefore a total 15 patents remained for analysis; from Appendix 1 data set patents with serial number 2, 5, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 28, 30 were retrieved for analysis whereas from appendix 2 date set, patents with serial number 3, 4, 7, 9,13, 14 were also retrieved for analysis.

On the other hand a total of 128 patents were retrieved from the European patents office (EPO) however only 30 patents were retrieved for analysis and the rest were excluded for being ambiguous or not related to mining in the fields of sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency.

That is to say from the data set in Appendix 3, patents with serial number 3, 5, 8, 9, 10,11, 22, 30, 33, 34, 35, 37, 40, 57, 68, 69, 70, 72, 80, 82, 86, 87, 88, 91, 93, 99, 101, 102, 115, 123 were retrieved for cross-sectional analysis.

It follows that a total of 45 patents from EPO and USPTO were suitable for this research for cross-sectional analysis. (Please see Appendix 4, 5 and 6 on how content analysis was used to analyze the patents in cross-sectional design). The patents were coded in three key themes from the literature review; Sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency

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Figure 10: a screenshot of cross-sectional content analysis of the patents (sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency as codes. See appendix 4, 5, 6 for a full analysis for 45 patents)

Chapter 4: Findings and Discussions

In this section the researcher provides a comprehensive overview of trends and patterns of patents related sustainability, energy efficiency, and waste management. Specifically, the researcher has used patent count as a measure of innovative efforts to the fields analyzed (Acs et. al, 2002; Park, 2014; Johnstone et al, 2016). The findings below are for 45 patent documents analyzed.

Findings 1: how far these innovations could be adopted in developing countries?

Content analysis of the patents show that innovation in fields of sustainability, waste management and energy efficiency aim to reduce costs in mining operations and mine closure. For example, Patent number 8,955,657 from USPTO discloses a mining vehicle with auxiliary power generating unit that solves power shortage problems. According to the patent, its ability to generate ideal power for mining operations significantly reduces operations costs. On the other hand Patent number 8,550,008 from USPTO discloses an invention of re-injecting retard energy into power systems. According to the invention, power generated can be stored in mine’s power auxiliary storage or help support ongoing operations.

Patent number CN104844203 from EPO discloses an invention of geological treatment of abandoned mines. The invention further claims that it enhances environmental performance and the land can be used for other useful purposes upon mine closure. According to Silvestre and Neto (2014) in the literature, companies in developing countries lag behind in technology; still using poor operations methods and closure techniques which cause severe harm to the environment.

Caravanos et al, (2013) supported the argument that developing countries provide an opportunity for implementation of cleaner production due to availability of mineral deposits and health risks posed by mining companies using low technology. On the other hand, (Kristensen et al, 2014) argued that mining operations have been a way out of poverty for millions of people in developing countries; hence implementation of these innovations would not only improve productivity of the mining sector but also boost sector’s economy.

Findings: How far current innovations in the mining sector focus on delivering sustainability?

Findings show that current patent documents analyzed in this research focus on delivering sustainability in the mining sector. This can be explained from the trends shown in figure 11, whereby the number of patents related to sustainability issued in 2014 is thrice the number of sustainability related patents issued in 2010. Figure 12 also shows that 42% of 45 patents analyzed that were issued between 2010 and 2015 focus on delivering sustainability. According to Content analysis of the 45 patents and statistics from figure 11, figure 12 and figure 13 show that or confirm what the literature suggested; that the mining sector is gradually progressing towards sustainability (Gray, 2010; Vintro et al, 2013; Lodhia and Hess, 2014) in other words, content analysis of the 45 patents and statistics from figure 11-13 show that sustainability in mining sector is an interesting field amongst inventors. For example Patent number CN103075302(A) from EPO discloses a mine waste power generating device; wastes are used to generate power hence reducing pollution. On the other hand, patent number CN203853156(A) discloses an invention of recycling sulfur and iron from copper and sulfur tailings so as to reduce hazardous pollution caused by sulfide-ore tailings, whereas patent number CN1049099796(A) discloses an invention of recycling copper tailings to produce valuable items used in highway greening.

The following figures were adapted from the cross-sectional analysis of the patents attached in appendix. These figures aim to support the findings on how far current innovation s in the mining sector focus on delivering sustainability

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Title
Sustainable mining. To what extent do current patent innovations focus on sustainability and resource efficiency?
College
University of Bedfordshire  (BUSINESS SCHOOL)
Course
BA (HONS) BUSINESS MANAGEMENT
Grade
3.8/4.0
Author
Year
2016
Pages
88
Catalog Number
V471495
ISBN (eBook)
9783668962446
ISBN (Book)
9783668962453
Language
English
Notes
"An unusual piece of work that shows hard work, originality, dedication and unique flow of ideas that clement put in this project. A first class degree well deserved"-Supervisor
Tags
BUSINESS MANAGEMENT, SUSTAINABILITY IN BUSINESS, MINING, INNOVATION, PATENT ANALYSIS, RESOURCE EFFICIENCY, CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
Quote paper
Clement Hosea Mbise (Author), 2016, Sustainable mining. To what extent do current patent innovations focus on sustainability and resource efficiency?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/471495

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Title: Sustainable mining. To what extent do current patent innovations focus on sustainability and resource efficiency?


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