Texas hold 'em meets mineral economics

THIS week Allan Trench reveals a learn-as-you-play card game to help keep all those present awake during mineral economics classes.
Texas hold 'em meets mineral economics Texas hold 'em meets mineral economics Texas hold 'em meets mineral economics Texas hold 'em meets mineral economics Texas hold 'em meets mineral economics


Staff Reporter

Foundation-level key concepts in mineral economics are not always the most exciting of subjects to lecture upon – and likely not all that riveting to listen to either.

Despite many and varied attempts to keep introductory sessions in mineral economics interesting, occasions remain where students’ eyelids appear to increase in density – and gravity inevitably does the rest.

So tasked with the perennial challenge to keep students awake, your scribe has developed a card game aimed at making mineral economics introductory learning 100% more fun.

It is a sort of “Texas hold ‘em meets mineral economics”

The game goes like this.

First the class is split into different teams with each team dealt a random hand of mineral economics concepts depicted on a modified pack of playing cards (“the flop”).

Students then get an hour to research all the different concepts on the cards revealed in their hand.

This task is not trivial – and among other things requires an efficient division of labour in order to complete the job in the allocated time (Adam Smith would be so proud).

Some mineral economics and financial concepts on the cards are pretty straightforward – whereas others can be quite tricky.

It is the trickier subjects that make the game all the more fun.

About halfway through the game, the teams can trade a fraction of the cards (“the turn”), requiring each opposing team to accept a card depicting one of the more difficult economic concepts.

The game ends in the showdown – where the dealer (read the lecturer) requires members of each team to explain selected mineral economics concepts from each team’s hand to the whole class.

Finally, the winning team – being the one judged most able to explain each mineral economics concept without fault – takes out the pot (typically a set of worst-selling economics books).

So there you have it. No more sleep for anyone in mineral economics foundation courses from now on.

For anyone wishing to play along at home, here is the full card pack.

Armed with some sticky tape, a pair of scissors and a job safety analysis template you could even make up your own customised pack.

The cards:

  • Normal costing

  • Value-based costing

  • Demand-side substitution

  • Barriers to entry

  • Oligopoly

  • Mineral markets: laterite versus sulphide nickel

  • Smelter charges

  • Mineral royalties

  • Economic rent

  • Power of buyers

  • Power of suppliers

  • Mineral markets: heavy rare earths

  • Mineral markets: light rare earths

  • Economic factors of production

  • Project delays to new mine production

  • Supply-side technological change

  • Concentrate leaching

  • Capital intensity

  • Project financing

  • Mineral dependent economy

  • Resource “curse”

  • Dutch disease

  • “Flat” cost curve

  • Swing producer

  • Game theory in mining

  • Local monopoly

  • Increasing returns economics

  • Exchange traded funds

  • Producer hedging

  • Cartels

  • Commodity put/call options

  • Market efficiency

  • Perfect competition

  • Annuity income

  • Comparative advantage

  • Distinctive capability

  • Price elasticity of demand

  • Price elasticity of supply

  • Negative externalities

  • Oligopsony

  • Purchasing power parity

  • Probabilistic models

  • Excess capacity

  • Derived demand

  • Expected value (exploration)

  • Business model innovation

  • “Capital-light” business model; and

  • Feasibility cost estimates.

Good hunting.

Allan Trench is a Professor at Curtin Graduate School of Business and Research Professor (Value & Risk) at the Centre for Exploration Targeting, University of Western Australia, a non-executive director of several resource sector companies and the Perth representative for CRU Strategies, a division of independent metals & mining advisory CRU Group (allan.trench@crugroup.com).

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