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Appears in Collections:Economics eTheses
Title: A Technological Economic Approach to Long Term Mineral Resource Development : illustrated by the case of Highland Dolomite
Author(s): Morgan, Jonathan Richard
Issue Date: 1974
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: An interdisciplinary study in technological economics is undertaken of various factors of determining importance in the long term development of minerals resources. Contributions to a theory of minerals development, and three empirical studies of minerals consuming industries are brought together in a simple network approach to the structuring of opportunities for long term development called opportunity planning. The empirical and planning studies are illustrated with reference to a particular mineral, dolomite, which is in geologically plentiful supply in the Highlands of Scotland. This region provides a focus for the application of the technological economic studies. From the outset attention is drawn to the essentially interdisciplinary definition of mineral resources as distinct from minerals deposits. Various aspects of this definition are examined including the implications of changes in the patterns of minerals demand. It is suggested that much greater attention to the analysis of such patterns is required even though they may develop at stages relatively distant from extractive and primary processing operations. This is because such changes may be crucial in the shaping of a compromise between the technical potential of a minerals deposit and the economic role of the derived products. As a convenient method of relating the relevant technological and economic variables the simple production function is used to provide a preliminary hypothesis describing the incentives necessary to stimulate minerals development. And on the demand side several hypotheses of the diffusion of innovations are critically examined and an evolutionary model for the diffusion of new materials is proposed. The empirical studies examine an industry in each of the three major divisions of the proposed minerals classification: a metals industry (magnesium), industrial minerals industry (basic refractories) and the bulk materials industry. The industries examined may all have the study mineral, dolomite, as a raw material in common. Each industry is examined under the following headings: structural analysis, technological background, end use analysis and market behaviour. The analysis confirms that assessment of minerals prospects in terms of current end use specifications, established technology and current market prices may be an insufficiently enterprising means of assessing minerals potential. In subsequent sections, therefore, a method of planning for minerals development is proposed which is sufficiently flexible to incorporate alternative technologies, the particular technical advantages of individual minerals deposits and possible changes in end uses and their functions. The method, called opportunity planning, advocates a simple network approach for the structuring of opportunities which can subsequently be applied to specific minerals deposits. Two strategic divisions are proposed, labelled interventionist and non-interventionist opportunity planning. The opportunity planning network is applied to the three case study industries and complements long term development forecasts based solely on the extrapolation of current supply and demand configurations. Finally the empirical and theoretical studies are used to suggest a checklist of the constraints on minerals development in the Highlands of Scotland. The planning model is used to arrive at a range of specific opportunities worthy of fuller investigation in each of the industries studied.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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