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Mineral Resource Depletion: A Coming Age of Stockpiling?

Ugo Bardi, Rolf Jakobi () and Hiroshan Hettiarachchi
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Ugo Bardi: Università di Firenze, and Consorzio Interuniversitario per la Scienza e la tecnologia dei materiali (INSTM), Unità di Ricerca di Firenze, Polo Scientifico di Sesto Fiorentino
Rolf Jakobi: University of Applied Science Ludwigshafen
Hiroshan Hettiarachchi: United Nations University - Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES)

Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, 2016, vol. 1, issue 1, 1-9

Abstract: Abstract The gradual depletion of low cost (or “high grade”) mineral ores is generating increasing extractive costs and diminishing economic returns. The market reacts to this situation either with high prices, which depress demand, or with very low prices (as it is happening at present) that reduce or eliminate profits for the extractive industry, which is forced to reduce production. As a consequence, it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage the remaining mineral resources in such a way to ensure a sufficient supply for the economy and to avoid price shocks originated by the vagaries of the market or by social or strategic conflicts. This is particularly important for critical and rare metals, such as those needed by the electronic industry and for vital tasks such as the conversion and the transmission of electrical energy produced by renewable (e.g. photovoltaic) plants. One possible reaction to these problems is stockpiling, that is keeping mineral resources stored above ground and readily available in order to provide a buffer against price and supply shocks. The present paper discusses several ways in which the market of mineral resources could evolve, in particular the concept of a “metal bank” that could be used to manage the supply of rare and sensitive minerals.

Keywords: Mineral depletion; Mineral commodities; Rare minerals; Mineral stockpiling; Metal bank (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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DOI: 10.1007/s41247-016-0004-x

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