In a world of diminishing, non-renewable resources, we as consumers of those resources have responsibilities, too. Instead of following the traditional “take-make-dispose” approach to goods, we have the power to play an important role in enabling products to have a longer lifecycle. When the lifecycle of a manufactured item continues indefinitely, it becomes part of what’s known as the “circular economy”, in which the resources used to create it are recovered, recycled, or repurposed in a cyclical fashion.

You might be wondering what the circular economy has to do with you. Look no further than the smartphone in your hand, and consider how many times its components could potentially be recycled into new products, far beyond its lifecycle as a phone. The copper and other minerals used to produce something like a smartphone will eventually run out. That’s why mining executive and former CEO of De Beers Group Botswana, Sheila Khama, sees the circular economy as a vital part of the mining value chain. 

“If consumers want to be part of the solution, they can’t look only at the production end. Conversations [about the circular economy] are important for everybody because we all have a stake in it,” says Ms Khama.

 Watch this interview excerpt, in which she shares her views on “closing the loop” with Chair and Co-Founder of the Development Partner Institute, Peter Bryant here:

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See also: 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Copper and Green Tech


  1. Matter can never be created no can it be destroyed. Every ton of the metal we have mined is seating somewhere. The problem is we seem not to pay the due attention to the reclamation and recycling of the used (metal in waste). With the rapid increasing population and the demand for metal, we definitely need to rethink and visit reclamation and recycling economics. What we considered as reserves 50 years ago, is now a resource today. We need to seriously recover valuable metals in those slag dumps and other metallurgical waste. Electronic waste is another great source of base and precious metals.