Scarce Minerals Are Running Out: Mining Quotas Are Needed in Resource Crisis — by Theo Henckens (Counter – January 5, 2017)

Molybdenum is essential for the manufacture of high-grade stainless steels, but at present molybdenum is hardly recycled. Yet unless reuse of molybdenum is dramatically increased, the extractable reserves of molybdenum on Earth will run out in about eighty years from now.

The extractable reserves of antimony, a mineral used to make plastics more heat-resistant, will run out within thirty years.During more than a century the use of mineral resources increased exponentially with an average between 3 and 4% annually. Can this go on, given the limited amounts of mineral resources in the earth’s crust?

Which raw materials or minerals are scarce?A mineral’s scarcity is expressed as the number of years that its extractable amount in the Earth’s crust is sufficient to meet anticipated demand. This exhaustion period is estimated from the annual use of such mineral.

I calculated the ratio between the extractable amount and the annual consumption for 65 mineral resources. My calculation is based on what is considered to be maximally extractable from the Earth’s crust.

These “Extractable Global Resources” are derived from a study by the International Resource Panel of UNEP (United Nations Environmental Program) in 2011. Regarding the annual use of mineral resources I have supposed an annual growth of 3% until 2050, where after I have supposed that extraction stabilizes. The table below shows the top ten scarcest mineral resources.

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