Magnus Ericsson publishes article in Euroasian Mining Journal

Internationalisation of mining education and research - a recurring process running through the centuries

International cooperation and mobility are buzzwords of today’s research and innovation clusters all over the world. These are however not new concepts. The understanding that research and innovation can only thrive in an international and open environment has been in place for at least 300 years in Sweden. All interested and knowledgeable scientists and business developers have been welcomed to push the front of knowledge and the industry forward. The international contacts of Swedish mining education, research and innovation prove that with an open mind and a persistent, long term effort results will come.

The roots of mining education and research in Sweden dates back to the 17th century. Initially the focus was on applied research rather than education, but the early efforts also slowly led to important purely scientific results. Swedish metallurgists/chemists have discovered more elements than scientists from any other nation. Over 150 years, from the early 18th century to the end of the 19th century, 20 elements - and among them many industrially important metals — were isolated and described.

The ancient Falu copper mine was the logical choice for location of one of the first technical schools in Sweden: “Falu Bergskola” (Falu Mining School), which was set up in 1822. Its first director was precisely one of the chemical scientists engaged in the discovery of new elements. This Mining school was later merged with other existing institutions offering some technical training into “Tekniska Institutet” (the Technical Insitute). This was in 1876 transformed into a technical high school along German models. The Association of Swedish Iron and Steel industry (Jernkontoret in Swedish) was a key supporter and funder of these developments. The new school was called Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan (KTH) in translation Royal Institute of Technology. KTH had 5 departments, including a school of mining science.

In 1972 the education of mining engineers was transferred to the newly established Luleå Technical College close to the Arctic Circle. The College was later expanded and in 1997 renamed Luleå University of Technology (LTU). LTU has become one of the leading mining universities in Europe, to a large extent due to the fact that it is situated in the centre of one of Europe’s remaining mining regions. Around 2/3 of all university trained staff employed by Swedish mining has been trained at LTU. But LTU has also had its focus on the mining sector for a long time and in its internal program Mines of the Future it has relentlessly pushed the importance of mining and minerals and demonstrated its ambition to be a leading actor in this area. LTU has been appointed by Swedish government to lead the national education and research in mining. The recent decision by the EU to locate one EIT Raw Materials CLC (Co-location Centre) to Luleå means that the university has been given a similar role also on the EU level. LTU has actively built international links and supported cooperation with other universities within Europe and around the world. The bold and officially stated aim is to become one of the globally leading mining universities.

Eurasian Mining, ISSN 2072-0823, Vol. 2, p. 44-48

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Magnus Ericsson presented at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) seminar on “EU’s normative role in African extractive governance”.

In conjunction with the 25th Mining Indaba South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) hosted a seminar of “EU’s normative role in African extractive governance”. RMG Consultants and Magnus Ericsson was invited to report from the STRADE (Strategic Dialogue on Sustainable Raw Materials for Europe) project which completed a 3-year Horizon 2020 project in November 2018.

Photo: SAIIA

Photo: SAIIA

For details about the STRADE results please go to www.stradeproject.eu

For details about SAIIA please go to https://saiia.org.za

For details on the seminar please see https://saiia.org.za/event/save-the-date-4-february-2019/

Extractive Industries The Management of Resources as a Driver of Sustainable Development

Magnus Ericsson, Olof Löf & Anton Löf from RMG Consulting has contributed to a new book published by UNU-WIDER and Oxford University Press, edited by Tony Adison and Alan R. Roe

Extractive Industries: The Management of Resources as a Driver of Sustainable Development

New initiatives recognize that resource wealth can provide a means, when properly used, for poorer nations to decisively break with poverty by diversifying economies and funding development spending. Extractive Industries: The Management of Resources as a Driver of Sustainable Development explores the challenges and opportunities facing developing countries in using oil, gas, and mining to achieve inclusive change. 

While resource wealth can yield prosperity it can also, when mismanaged, cause acute social inequality, deep poverty, environmental damage, and political instability. There is a new determination to improve the benefits of extractive industries to their host countries, and to strengthen the sector's governance. Extractive Industries provides a comprehensive contribution to what must be done in this sector to deliver development, protect often fragile environments from damage, enhance the rights of affected communities, and support climate change action. It brings together international experts to offer ideas and recommendations in the main policy areas. With a breadth of collective insight and experience, it argues that more attention must be given to the development role of extractive industries, and looks to the future to explain how action on climate change will profoundly shape the sector's prospects.

Chapter 3. Mining's contribution to low- and middle-income economies 
Magnus Ericsson and Olof Löf 

Chapter 25. Downstream activities: The possibilities and the realities 
Olle Östensson and Anton Löf 

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Mineraltillgångar bidrar till utveckling i världen

Article by Magnus Ericsson & Olof Löf in Bergsmannen.

Rika mineralförekomster och en väl utvecklad gruvindustri ger väsentliga bidrag till nationell ekonomisk och social utveckling. Särskilt i utvecklingsländer. Mineralrika länder utvecklas också snabbare än länder med få kända mineraltillgångar. Detta visar en ny studie av världens alla länder, inom ramen för FN-Universitetets (UNU) World Institute for Development Economics Research (WIDER) initiativ Extractives for Development.

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Nordic Steel & Mining Review: Iron Ore Review, 2017

Article by Anton Löf & Magnus Ericsson in Nordic Steel & Mining Review.

Iron ore prices have held up surprisingly well in 2017. The strong US dollar in early 2017 helped many miners operating in countries with weaker currencies to additional income. Producers in the high-quality end of the iron ore market further benefitted from large and growing premium paid for these products.

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Africa’s push to add value to minerals now a riskier gamble

Magnus Ericsson is quoted in the Jordan Times.

LONDON — African government efforts to force mining companies to process minerals before export may backfire as they come up against weakening commodity prices and investor demands that firms reduce risky investments.

In the last year alone, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Namibia, South Africa and others have hinted at, announced or put in place measures aimed at adding value to minerals exports, which would boost tax revenue, encourage formation of new businesses and add jobs.

But with falling metal prices and a drastic reduction in the capital available for the mining industry, wary companies are increasingly shying away from investment in countries where the rules of the game can change quickly.

“Investment sentiment in the last year has moved against the mining sector, but the governments tend to have a lagging view of how this is going to affect investment in their countries,” said Mike Elliott, global mining and metals leader at Ernst & Young.

“They continue to argue that mining needs to make a bigger contribution to their economies, but you’ll have to see investment severely tail off to make them think they need to attract investment rather than scare it away,” he added.

According to consultants, governments could find more targeted and effective ways of adding value to local economies.

For example, they could push local companies that provide services for the mining industry such as logistics, security, catering and construction to become more competitive and then tighten regulation around the procurement of such services, consultant Tom Wilson at Africa Practice suggested.

“Ultimately you can’t turn market forces on their head. You have to figure out where the country has the capacity to fill the need for goods and services and provide some structures that actually help indigenise some businesses,” Wilson said.

The top five mining companies are slashing total capital spending from a peak of about $70 billion in 2012 to an expected $46 billion in 2015, according to Reuters I/B/E/S.

Mining firms have been taking costly writedowns following years of risky bets to pursue growth, and they now need to prove to shareholders they can use their cash more wisely.

“Companies need to decide whether they wish to continue mining in these countries and face what the governments want to do in terms of beneficiation or pull out. And in some cases it will be a pull-out strategy,” said Kevin Goodrem, vice president of beneficiation for De Beers Group.

The hard line

Zimbabwe, which holds the world’s second-largest platinum reserves after South Africa, has taken a hard line. President Robert Mugabe late last year threatened to stop exports of raw platinum in a bid to force mining firms to process the metal domestically.

The government said last month it had short-listed two companies to build a refinery by 2016, but industry players expect the project will take much longer than two years.

A source at a mining company operating in southern Africa said the volumes mined in Zimbabwe are not enough to make construction of a $2-$3 billion refinery economically viable, and he was sceptical that the energy supply would be sufficient to run it.

But companies operating in Zimbabwe, which include top world platinum producers Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum Holdings, have to remain engaged with the government to avoid losing assets.

“For the platinum miners who operate in Zimbabwe, it is a very concerning time. And it is a bit of a tragedy for Zimbabwe, because they are a very significant producer, but no global capital is going to go there today with that policy uncertainty,” Elliott said.

The DRC and Zambia, Africa’s largest copper producers, are also trying to boost downstream investment.

Kinshasa is trying to implement a ban on exports of copper and cobalt concentrates but has so far encountered the resistance of the powerful governor of Congo’s copperproducing Katanga province.

Many in the industry say the ban is unrealistic as acute electricity shortages hamper processing activities in Congo.

In Zambia, President Michael Sata in October revoked a law that had suspended a 10 per cent duty on exports of unprocessed minerals including copper, iron, cobalt and nickel.

Miners say that although some plants are being built, Zambia does not have enough smelting capacity to process all its copper, so they are accumulating high stocks of concentrate.

“Some of these countries are trying to run before they can walk,” remarked Deutsche Bank analyst Robert Clifford.

“I understand why they want to do it, but they have to provide some assurance to companies that they are not going to pull the rug out from under their feet and change the rules once they have spent billions of dollars,” he said.

Also new smelters and plants may not make sense if their products are expensive and uncompetitive in global markets.

Mining experts say governments should avoid blanket policies and instead target parts of the industry that will actually benefit from downstream investment.

They cite Indonesia’s controversial ban on exports of unprocessed mineral exports as an example.

The ban is expected to boost downstream processing investment in the next few years in nickel, where the country is competitive. But in copper, it is expected to achieve little besides souring the relationship between the government and producers.

Wary of the risks, Namibia seems to have taken a softer approach so far. The government has commissioned a study to identify the commodities it would be more beneficial to process.

“You have to be careful with value-addition policy, because the risk is that it could be value disruptive,” said Magnus Ericsson, founder of the Raw Materials Group, a consultancy that advices governments and companies on mining issues.

“One policy doesn’t fit all. That’s a recipe for disaster,” he added.