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Future availability of mineral resources: ultimate reserves and total material requirement


  • Larona S. Teseletso

    (Akita University)

  • Tsuyoshi Adachi

    (Akita University)


Mineral resources are fundamental to drive the economic growth in a modern society. Although these resources have extensively been crossed referenced as “finite,” their metal production has increased steadily over the decades. The concept of “peak oil” has been under extensive debate, whereas that of “peak minerals” of individual metals lacks in-depth studies. This study aimed to provide a brief account of the ultimate recoverable resources for copper (Cu), gold (Au), iron (Fe), nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), and zinc (Zn). We utilized grade tonnage curves to illustrate future resource availability against a decline in the metal ore grade. Furthermore, an environmental indicator was calculated based on the total material requirement (TMR) to evaluate the present and future trends. Consequently, a visible decline in the metal grade for Cu, Ni, Au, Pb, and Zn was observed, whereas the future ore grade for Fe was projected to decline gradually. Furthermore, we estimated that as ultimate recoverable reserves peak approaches, metals will be recoverable at lower grades. The TMR increased for all metals, thus, indicating potential vulnerability to the environment. The findings indicate that awareness on the declining metal grades, environmental impacts of metals, and future mineral supplies will increase; however, other factors that govern the dynamics of recoverability and availability of these metals will offset the peak of these resources.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:36:y:2023:i:2:d:10.1007_s13563-021-00283-2
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-021-00283-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

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