A once and future extractive history of Britain

Bloodworth, A.. 2012 A once and future extractive history of Britain. In: Extractive Industry Geology 2012. Extractive Industry Geology Conferences Ltd, 1-6.

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Geology, geography and human affairs have combined to give Britain a rich history of mineral extraction which stretches back several thousand years. Changing technological, economic and social factors means that the character and scale of domestic extraction have varied enormously over this time span. These same factors have also influenced our level of trade in minerals and metals with the rest of the world. Cornish tin established Britain as a supplier of metal across the ancient world. Norman masons utilised huge quantities of dimension stone to build cathedrals and castles. Wooden ships sheathed with copper from South West England, Wales and the Lakes secured a global empire for Britain in the 17th and 18th Century. Indigenous coal and iron were the basis of Victorian and Edwardian prosperity. Aggregates for road building literally formed the foundation of the post-war ‘great car economy’. Economic globalisation, technology shift and changes in societal attitudes in the late 20th and early 21st Century caused a precipitous decline in domestic output of some minerals, notably metals and coal. The British seemed content to let the global market provide their material needs and happy to export the impacts of mineral extraction to other countries. However, by 2050 it is likely that human population will be close to 9 billion, economic power will have shifted from the West, environmental change will be accelerating and global competition for resources will be intense. In the face of this enormous challenge, will indigenous minerals make a comeback and increase their contribution to our security and prosperity?

Item Type: Publication - Conference Item (Paper)
ISSN: 2055-3250
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 02 Jun 2014 15:27 +0 (UTC)

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