December 2018

Book Review: Mineral Resources – from exploration to sustainability assessment

  • By Neil Phillips FAusIMM(CP)

Book author: Manuel Bustillo Revuelta

One of the great attractions of this book is its breadth and potential use as a one-stop shop for a wide range of mineral industry professionals.

There are seamless connections between chapters that re-enforce how the mineral industry does, or should, work cooperatively between the professions, and the author has achieved a consistent approach that would be difficult to maintain with multiple authors. The structure of the book makes it easy to use; it has seven large chapters: an introduction to mining, deposit types, exploration, evaluation, extraction, processing, environment and sustainability, and mining software. This chapter organisation based upon the various operational tasks (ie find, dig, extract, rehabilitate) means that the index and comprehensive table of contents need to be effective (which they are) to find some descriptions of skills. For example, a section on statistics for geochemistry is followed immediately by a section on drilling but there is logic here because once anomalies are defined then drilling might commence. There is also slight repetition because some skills are used at more than one stage – such as data handling, statistics and some photos – but this is not a fault. 

None of the chapters will offer comprehensive explanations of detail for the specialist in that area; instead, this book sets the broad context and then a reader must seek the fine detail elsewhere. For example, the coverage of mineral deposits is adequate for the non-specialist but lacks in areas such as iron ore deposits, metamorphism, structural control and weathering of ores (now I am showing an Australian bias). Several figure captions could be a little more detailed and would benefit from description of the location or mine and an explanation of what the reader should take away.

This book is ideal for higher level undergraduate geology, mining and processing courses, postgraduates, stockbrokers, financial analysts and other professionals engaged in the mineral resources industry. The first chapter on the history of mining is valuable reading for everyone to help understand where we have come from and what the industry future might look like. One sentence on the first page made me chuckle: ‘Meanwhile, Australia also suffered gold rushes; in 1850s …’; I wonder whether the Victorian gold rush was really that bad? This section on historical setting could be stretched forward to include the nuanced transition of global minerals leadership from USA to locations such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Russia and southern Africa in recent years.

The book can also serve as a form of a dictionary with its comprehensive definitions, in case you were not sure about IOCG, kriging, hydraulic fracturing, cut-and-fill stopes, ANFO, SIA or how one earns a social license. This is the type of book I could give to a special graduate going into the mineral industry knowing that it will be useful to them for much of their career.

The author is from Complutense University in Madrid, and consequently many of the examples are from Europe, especially Spain and Portugal; this will be a welcome focus for readers brought up on textbooks based around US examples. Professor Revuelta covers a vast field throughout and for this is to be congratulated.

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