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Minerals 2015, 5(4), 815-836; doi:10.3390/min5040527

The Feedback Control Cycle of Mineral Supply, Increase of Raw Material Efficiency, and Sustainable Development

1
Formerly Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Stilleweg 2, D-30655 Hannover, Germany
2
Umicore AG & Co. KG, Rodenbacher Chaussee 4, D-63457 Hanau-Wolfgang, Germany
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Current Address: Neue Sachlichkeit 32, D-30655 Hannover, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Saleem H. Ali
Received: 24 August 2015 / Revised: 16 November 2015 / Accepted: 20 November 2015 / Published: 27 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability of Mineral Resources)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [3439 KB, uploaded 27 November 2015]   |  

Abstract

Sustainable development with regard to non-renewable resources can best be defined in terms of the inter-generational challenge of the Brundtland commission and the intra-generational challenge worked out in Agenda 21 of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro conference of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). In meeting these challenges, the trilemma of security of supply under conditions of economic viability and environmental sustainability also needs to be addressed in order to achieve sustainable development. To fulfil the natural resources needs of future generations we have three resources at our disposal: (1) the geosphere or primary resources; (2) the technosphere or secondary resources and (3) human ingenuity and creativity driving innovation. Man does not need natural resources as such, only the intrinsic property of a material that enables the fulfilment of a function is required. Any material that can perform the same function more efficiently or cheaply can replace any other material. In our constant drive to secure the supply of efficient raw materials, the feedback control cycle plays an indispensable role by virtue of it reacting to price signals on both the supply and demand sides. The feedback cycle of course goes hand in hand with a continuous learning process. On the supply side, the learning effects are in technology development around primary resources and the increased use of secondary resources; on the demand side with thriftier use of raw materials. View Full-Text
Keywords: sustainable development; trilemma of security of supply; geosphere; technosphere; fulfilment of functions; feedback control cycle of mineral supply; resource efficiency; mining; recycling; substitution sustainable development; trilemma of security of supply; geosphere; technosphere; fulfilment of functions; feedback control cycle of mineral supply; resource efficiency; mining; recycling; substitution
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Wellmer, F.-W.; Hagelüken, C. The Feedback Control Cycle of Mineral Supply, Increase of Raw Material Efficiency, and Sustainable Development. Minerals 2015, 5, 815-836.

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