Using the cumulative availability curve to assess the threat of mineral depletion: The case of lithium
The cumulative availability curve shows the quantities of a mineral commodity that can be recovered under current conditions from existing resources at various prices. The future availability of a mineral commodity depends on the shape of its cumulative availability curve (determined by geologic considerations, such as the nature and incidence of the available mineral deposits), the speed at which society moves up the curve (determined by future demand and the extent to which this demand is satisfied by recycling), and shifts in the curve (determined by cost-reducing technological change and other factors). While the shape of the curve for any given mineral commodity may or may not be known, it is knowable since the geologic processes responsible for the curve's shape took place many years ago. In contrast, the factors governing how fast society moves up the curve and how the curve shifts over time are not only unknown but also unknowable. Using lithium as an example, this article shows that knowledge about the shape of the cumulative availability curve can by itself provide useful insights for some mineral commodities regarding the potential future threat of shortages due to depletion. Despite the inherent uncertainties surrounding the future growth in lithium demand as well as the uncertainties regarding the future cost-reducing effects of new production technologies, the shape of the lithium cumulative availability curve indicates that depletion is not likely to pose a serious problem over the rest of this century and well beyond.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Tilton, John E. & Lagos, Gustavo, 2007. "Assessing the long-run availability of copper," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 19-23.
- Ebensperger, Arlene & Maxwell, Philip & Moscoso, Christian, 2005. "The lithium industry: Its recent evolution and future prospects," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 218-231, September.
- Roberto F. Aguilera & Roderick G. Eggert & Gustavo Lagos C.C. & John E. Tilton, 2009. "Depletion and the Future Availability of Petroleum Resources," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 141-174.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:34:y:2009:i:4:p:185-194. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.