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Institutional conditions for Swedish metal production: a comparison of subsidies to metal mining and metal recycling
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-3137-1571
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Environmental Technology and Management. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
2014 (English)In: Resources policy, ISSN 0301-4207, E-ISSN 1873-7641, Vol. 41, 72-82 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article examines and contrasts the level of Swedish governmental subsidies to two different ways of producing metal: the metal recycling sector and the metal mining sector. In 2010, the metal mining sector was subsidized by € 40 million and the metal recycling sector € 0.6 million. If the exemption from landfill tax is considered a subsidy, the level of subsidization to the metal mining sector changes drastically to approximately € 4000 million. Regardless of how the concept “subsidy” is defined, the metal mining sector in total and per tonne of metal produced is fundamentally more highly subsidized than the metal recycling sector. The value added per tonne of metal produced for the metal recycling sector appears to be higher than for the metal mining sector. The current dominant trend in the Swedish mineral strategy is nevertheless to increase the level of subsidization to the metal mining sector.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014. Vol. 41, 72-82 p.
Keyword [en]
Subsidy, Recycling, Mining, Metal, Policy
National Category
Environmental Engineering Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-97469DOI: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2014.04.001ISI: 000341338400009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-97469DiVA: diva2:647881
Funder
Vinnova
Note

On the day of the defence date the status of this article was Manuscript.

JEL Classification: H23; L72; Q38; Q53

Available from: 2013-09-12 Created: 2013-09-12 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Why don’t we mine the landfills?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Why don’t we mine the landfills?
2013 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There are many reasons to mine landfills. For example, metals are increasingly shifting location from the Earth’s crust through human society into landfills. These new mines are located closer to the market, in contrast to traditional mines in the countryside where the metals are deep inside the crust requiring huge amounts of energy to be extracted. In addition, metals in the landfill pose a potential threat to humans, nature, and the environment. Despite this, landfills are not commonly mined. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to answer the question, Why don’t we mine the landfills? This question has been approached by analyzing different factors, such as the resource potential, institutional conditions, and to some degree technical methods considered important in order to realize a mining operation, above as well as below ground. In addition, the potential of landfills as mines will be contrasted with other metal stocks currently mined in order to understand what drives resource extraction from some metal stocks but not others. Information was mainly gathered through interviews, document studies, and literature reviews between 2010-2013.

Metals are currently extracted from the Earth’s crust, in-use as they successively turn into waste, and tailing ponds. These stocks have greater mining potential than landfills. For example, there are more metals in the Earth’s crust as well as in-use. Single tailing ponds contain more metals than landfills. Furthermore, the waste in tailings is homogeneous and has a similar composition to ore, thus similar technology already in ownership to process the ore can be used to reprocess old tailings. Landfills, on the other hand, are usually heterogeneous and contain a mix of various wastes. At the same time, there are no methods to uncover the contents of a landfill and thereby identify particularly valuable ores, which makes it difficult to estimate the resource potential of single landfills. Metals in-use are also situated in a heterogeneous environment, but through state regulation on source separation are made more homogenous and predictable.

However, there are homogeneous landfills with fairly predictable content. But these landfills are not mined either, which largely can be explained by institutional conditions. Researchers, officials, legislators, and policy makers have long manifested the idea of landfills as the end station for worthless rubbish, and if landfills have any value it is negative, as a dump. For this  reason, mining the landfill is a mismatch with the current strategy to isolate, cap, and close landfills and thereby becomes a challenging operation. At the same time as landfills are closed, mines are opened up with the support of the government. For example in 2010, the Swedish mining sector was subsidized with € 4 billion. This support is one of many factors that contribute to keeping the price of metals as a commodity down, which could make metal extraction from other stocks indirectly unfeasible. In addition, metals in landfills are not available on demand, although they lack a function, since landfills are owned by someone. The metals in the Earth's crust as well as in-use, on the other hand, are made available by exempting the ownership.

If the demand for metals continues to increase, while being depleted in the Earth’s crust, additional sources for recycling need to be accessible. Compared to the risk associated with the schemes in outer space and the deep sea, the metals in the landfills seem less distant. However, there is no pressure today from policies to initiate something so awkward, unorthodox and “dirty” as extracting metals from landfills. The metal prices are too low and what is profitable and thus possible to mine from the Earth’s crust, i.e., reserves, is constantly redefined, with the help of governmental support through research funding of technological development and subsidization of the mining operation, which reduces costs.

Abstract [sv]

Det finns många anledningar att gräva ut deponierna. Till exempel flyttas allt fler metaller från jordskorpan via samhället in till deponierna, där de befinner sig relativt nära marknaden till skillnad från metaller i ödemarken långt nere i jorden. Väl i deponierna utgör dessa metaller dessutom ett hot mot människa, natur och miljö. Trots detta är det sällan deponier grävs ut. Därför syftar denna uppsats till att svara på frågeställningen: Varför utvinns inte metaller från deponier? Detta syfte har studerats genom att analysera olika faktorer som anses viktiga för att realisera ett gruvprojekt, ovan så väl som under jord, såsom resurspotential, institutionella förutsättningar och delvis tekniska metoder. Dessutom har deponier kontrasterats mot andra metallförråd som för närvarande utvinns för att därigenom förstå vad som driver resursutvinningen från vissa metallförråd, men inte andra. Informationen har i huvudsak samlats in igenom intervjuer, dokumentstudier och litteraturstudier mellan åren 2010 och 2013.

För närvarande utvinns metaller från jordskorpan, från användning i takt med att de successivt blir till avfall, och från gruvavfall. Förutsättningarna för att utvinna metaller från dessa förråd är bättre än från deponier. Till exempel finns det mer metaller i jordskorpan såväl som i användning. Enskilda gruvavfallshögar innehåller mer metaller än deponier. Dessutom är gruvavfallshögar homogena, med en likartad komposition som malmen, vilket gör att samma teknik redan i ägandet kan användas för att reprocessera gruvavfallet. Deponier däremot är i regel heterogena med en blandning av många olika typer av avfall. Samtidigt saknas metoder för att genomlysa och analysera innehållet i deponier för att därigenom identifiera värdefulla resurser, vilket gör det svårt att uppskatta resurspotentialen i enskilda deponier. Metaller i användning befinner sig också i en heterogen miljö, men genom lagstiftning om källsortering görs flödena homogena och förutsägbara.

Det finns dock homogena deponier med ett någorlunda förutsägbart innehåll. Men inte heller dessa deponier grävs ut, vilket till stor del kan förklaras av de institutionella förutsättningarna. Forskare, tjänstemän, lagstiftare och beslutsfattare har länge manifesterat tanken på deponier som slutstation för sopor och om deponier har något värde så är det framförallt negativt; de utgör en soptipp. Därför står utvinning av mineraler från deponier på många sätt i konflikt med den nuvarande strategin att isolera, täcka och stänga soptippar och blir därigenom en utmanande operation. Medan allt fler deponier stängs i Sverige, öppnas allt fler gruvor med stöd från staten. Bara under 2010 subventionerades gruvsektorn med 35,5 miljarder kronor. Detta stöd är en av många faktorer som hjälper till att hålla nere priser på metaller, vilket gör att utvinningsprojekt från andra metallförråd indirekt blir svåra att genomföra. Dessutom är metallerna i deponierna inte tillgängliga för efterfrågan, trots att de inte fyller någon funktion, eftersom deponier vanligen ägs av någon. Metallerna i jordskorpan såväl som i användning görs emellertid tillgängliga, genom att ägandeskapet undantas med hjälp av olika lagar.

Om efterfrågan på metaller fortsätter att öka samtidigt som metallernas tillgänglighet i jordskorpan minskar, måste ytterligare metallförråd tids nog komplettera återvinningen. Jämfört med riskerna att bryta metaller från havsbottnen och rymden borde deponier ligga närmare till hands. Men idag finns det inga politiska påtryckningar att inleda något så krångligt, okonventionellt och "smutsigt" som att utvinna metaller från deponier. Metallpriserna är för låga och vad som är lönsamt och därför möjligt att bryta från jordskorpan, dvs. reserverna, omdefinieras ständigt med hjälp av statliga forskningsanslag till teknisk utveckling och statliga subventioner av gruvdrift som håller nere kostnaderna.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. 43 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1615
National Category
Environmental Engineering Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-97470 (URN)978-91-7519-530-8 (ISBN)
Presentation
2013-09-27, Sal A30, Hus A, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-09-12 Created: 2013-09-12 Last updated: 2015-02-05Bibliographically approved
2. Landfill Mining: Institutional challenges for the implementation of resource extraction from waste deposits
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Landfill Mining: Institutional challenges for the implementation of resource extraction from waste deposits
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The overall aim of the thesis is to examine the institutional conditions for the implementation and emergence of landfill mining. The result shows that  current policy makes it difficult for landfill mining operators to find a market outlet for the exhumed material, which means that landfill mining may result in a waste disposal problem. Regulations also restrict accessibility to the material in landfills. Therefore, it has generally been municipal landfill owners that perform landfill mining operations, which directs learning processes towards solving landfill problems rather than resource recovery. Landfill mining is not, however, necessarily to be perceived as a recycling activity. It could also be understood as a remediation or mining activity. This would result in more favorable institutional conditions for landfill mining in terms of better access to the market and the material in the landfill.

The regulatory framework surrounding landfills is based on a perception of landfills as a source of pollution, a problem that should be avoided, capped and closed. Extracting resources from landfills, challenges this perception and therefore results in a mismatch with the regulatory framework. On the other hand, the material in mines is typically regarded in the formal institutions as a positive occurrence. Mining activities are regarded as the backbone of the Swedish economy and therefore receive various forms of political support. This favorable regulatory framework is not available for secondary resource production. Based on the identified institutional conditions, institutional challenges are identified. The core of these challenges is a conflict between the policy goal of increased recycling and a non-toxic environment. Secondary resources are typically punished through strict requirements for marketability, while primary resources are supported through subsidies such as tax exemptions. The authorities lack capacity to manage the emergence of unconventional and complex activities such as landfill mining. The institutional arrangements that are responsible for landfills primarily perceive them as pollution, while the institutions responsible for resources, on the other hand, assume them to be found in the bedrock.

The major contribution of the thesis is to go beyond the potential-oriented studies of landfill mining to instead focus on how institutions relate to landfill mining. In order to move towards a resource transition with dominant use of secondary resources a new institutional order is proposed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. 120 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1799
Keyword
Landfill mining, recycling, mineral policy, institutions, transitions, mining.
National Category
Economics and Business Other Environmental Engineering Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-132424 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-132424 (DOI)9789176856574 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-11-25, ACAS, A-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-11-10 Created: 2016-11-10 Last updated: 2017-02-22Bibliographically approved

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