IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/gam/jresou/v7y2018i4p88-d191785.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Decreasing Metal Ore Grades—Is the Fear of Resource Depletion Justified?

Author

Listed:
  • Nadine Rötzer

    (Institute for Industrial Ecology, Pforzheim University, Tiefenbronner Str. 65, 75175 Pforzheim, Germany)

  • Mario Schmidt

    (Institute for Industrial Ecology, Pforzheim University, Tiefenbronner Str. 65, 75175 Pforzheim, Germany)

Abstract

Metals are an essential part of modern living. Ensuring the future supply of metals is a key issue in politics, science, and economics because the available amount of mineral resources is limited. To measure the depletion of mineral resources, several indicators are used. Some of them are based on the ore grade, which has been decreasing over time and is thus taken as a sign of resource exhaustion. However, does this assumption hold true? This paper shows that the development of ore grades is mainly the result of the increasing demand and the outstanding technological improvements that made mining of low grade ores profitable. The usage of ore grades as an indicator may, therefore, lead to erroneous conclusions about the safeguard objects. These are not the metals themselves, but the environment that is impacted by their extraction.

Suggested Citation

  • Nadine Rötzer & Mario Schmidt, 2018. "Decreasing Metal Ore Grades—Is the Fear of Resource Depletion Justified?," Resources, MDPI, vol. 7(4), pages 1-14, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jresou:v:7:y:2018:i:4:p:88-:d:191785
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9276/7/4/88/pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL: https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9276/7/4/88/
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. James West, 2011. "Decreasing Metal Ore Grades," Journal of Industrial Ecology, Yale University, vol. 15(2), pages 165-168, April.
    2. Tilton, John E. & Lagos, Gustavo, 2007. "Assessing the long-run availability of copper," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(1-2), pages 19-23.
    3. Crowson, Phillip, 2012. "Some observations on copper yields and ore grades," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 59-72.
    4. Guiomar Calvo & Gavin Mudd & Alicia Valero & Antonio Valero, 2016. "Decreasing Ore Grades in Global Metallic Mining: A Theoretical Issue or a Global Reality?," Resources, MDPI, vol. 5(4), pages 1-14, November.
    5. Crowson, Phillip, 2003. "Mine size and the structure of costs," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 29(1-2), pages 15-36.
    6. David, Paul A & Wright, Gavin, 1997. "Increasing Returns and the Genesis of American Resource Abundance," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press and the Associazione ICC, vol. 6(2), pages 203-245, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Gümüşsoy, Aleyna & Başyi̇ği̇t, Mikail & Uzun Kart, Elif, 2023. "Economic potential and environmental impact of metal recovery from copper slag flotation tailings," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 80(C).
    2. Nadine Rötzer & Mario Schmidt, 2020. "Historical, Current, and Future Energy Demand from Global Copper Production and Its Impact on Climate Change," Resources, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-31, April.
    3. Lucia Mancini & Philip Nuss, 2020. "Responsible Materials Management for a Resource-Efficient and Low-Carbon Society," Resources, MDPI, vol. 9(6), pages 1-14, June.
    4. Chazel, Simon & Bernard, Sophie & Benchekroun, Hassan, 2023. "Energy transition under mineral constraints and recycling: A low-carbon supply peak," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    5. Kühnel, Konstantin & Schütte, Philip & Bach, Vanessa & Franken, Gudrun & Finkbeiner, Matthias, 2023. "Correlation analysis of country governance indicators and the magnitude of environmental and social incidents in mining," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 85(PA).
    6. Clemens Mostert & Stefan Bringezu, 2022. "Biotic Part of the Product Material Footprint: Comparison of Indicators Regarding Their Interpretation and Applicability," Resources, MDPI, vol. 11(6), pages 1-16, June.
    7. Elena N. Shaforostova & Olga V. Kosareva-Volod’ko & Olga V. Belyankina & Danila Y. Solovykh & Ekaterina S. Sazankova & Elena I. Sizova & Danila A. Adigamov, 2023. "A Tailing Dump as Industrial Deposit; Study of the Mineralogical Composition of Tailing Dump of the Southern Urals and the Possibility of Tailings Re-Development," Resources, MDPI, vol. 12(2), pages 1-13, February.
    8. Larona S. Teseletso & Tsuyoshi Adachi, 2023. "Future availability of mineral resources: ultimate reserves and total material requirement," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 36(2), pages 189-206, June.
    9. Aramendia, Emmanuel & Brockway, Paul E. & Taylor, Peter G. & Norman, Jonathan B., 2024. "Exploring the effects of mineral depletion on renewable energy technologies net energy returns," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 290(C).
    10. Mariusz Krzak, 2021. "Is the EU’s Resource Base of Copper Ore Deposits Large? A Fuzzy Set Theory Approach," Resources, MDPI, vol. 10(2), pages 1-17, January.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. R. H. E. M. Koppelaar & H. Koppelaar, 2016. "The Ore Grade and Depth Influence on Copper Energy Inputs," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 1-16, December.
    2. Emilio Castillo & Roderick Eggert, 2019. "Reconciling Diverging Views on Mineral Depletion: A Modified Cumulative Availability Curve Applied to Copper Resources," Working Papers 2019-02, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
    3. Northey, S. & Mohr, S. & Mudd, G.M. & Weng, Z. & Giurco, D., 2014. "Modelling future copper ore grade decline based on a detailed assessment of copper resources and mining," Resources, Conservation & Recycling, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 190-201.
    4. Magnus Ericsson & Johannes Drielsma & David Humphreys & Per Storm & Pär Weihed, 2019. "Why current assessments of ‘future efforts’ are no basis for establishing policies on material use—a response to research on ore grades," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 32(1), pages 111-121, April.
    5. Nadine Rötzer & Mario Schmidt, 2020. "Historical, Current, and Future Energy Demand from Global Copper Production and Its Impact on Climate Change," Resources, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-31, April.
    6. Larona S. Teseletso & Tsuyoshi Adachi, 2022. "Long-Term Sustainability of Copper and Iron Based on a System Dynamics Model," Resources, MDPI, vol. 11(4), pages 1-19, April.
    7. Swart, Pilar & Dewulf, Jo, 2013. "Quantifying the impacts of primary metal resource use in life cycle assessment based on recent mining data," Resources, Conservation & Recycling, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 180-187.
    8. Nwaila, Glen T. & Frimmel, Hartwig E. & Zhang, Steven E. & Bourdeau, Julie E. & Tolmay, Leon C.K. & Durrheim, Raymond J. & Ghorbani, Yousef, 2022. "The minerals industry in the era of digital transition: An energy-efficient and environmentally conscious approach," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    9. Martin Stuermer & Maxwell Fleming & Ian Lange & Sayeh Shojaeinia, 2023. "Growth and Resources in Space: Pushing the Final Frontier?," Working Papers 2023-02, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
    10. Marisa D.M. Vieira & Thomas C. Ponsioen & Mark J. Goedkoop & Mark A.J. Huijbregts, 2016. "Surplus Cost Potential as a Life Cycle Impact Indicator for Metal Extraction," Resources, MDPI, vol. 5(1), pages 1-12, January.
    11. Fernandez, Viviana, 2021. "Copper mining in Chile and its regional employment linkages," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 70(C).
    12. Ousman Gajigo & Mouma Ben Dhaou, 2015. "Working Paper 222 - Economies of Scale in Gold Mining," Working Paper Series 2161, African Development Bank.
    13. Michael Priester & Magnus Ericsson & Peter Dolega & Olof Löf, 2019. "Mineral grades: an important indicator for environmental impact of mineral exploitation," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 32(1), pages 49-73, April.
    14. Eirik Nøst Nedkvitne & Dag Øistein Eriksen & Jon Petter Omtvedt, 2023. "Grade and Tonnage Comparison of Anthropogenic Raw Materials and Ores for Cu, Zn, and Pb Recovery," Resources, MDPI, vol. 12(3), pages 1-9, February.
    15. Juan‐Pablo Montero & Juan Ignacio Guzman, 2010. "Output‐Expanding Collusion In The Presence Of A Competitive Fringe," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 106-126, March.
    16. Guy Michaels, 2011. "The Long Term Consequences of Resource‐Based Specialisation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(551), pages 31-57, March.
    17. Calzada Olvera, Beatriz & Iizuka, Michiko, 2020. "How does innovation take place in the mining industry? : Understanding the logic behind innovation in a changing context," MERIT Working Papers 2020-019, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    18. Guo, Tianjiao & Geng, Yong & Song, Xiaoqian & Rui, Xue & Ge, Zewen, 2023. "Tracing magnesium flows in China: A dynamic material flow analysis," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C).
    19. Boschini, Anne & Pettersson, Jan & Roine, Jesper, 2013. "The Resource Curse and its Potential Reversal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 19-41.
    20. Judith Fessehaie & Zavareh Rustomjee & Lauralyn Kaziboni, 2016. "Mining-related national systems of innovation in southern Africa National trajectories and regional integration," WIDER Working Paper Series 084, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:gam:jresou:v:7:y:2018:i:4:p:88-:d:191785. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: MDPI Indexing Manager (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://www.mdpi.com .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.