Sunday, January 22, 2006

 

Some Metals 'Face Depletion': Study

As we get ready for what should be an interesting week for precious metals and curriencies, check out this Yale study. "If all nations were to use the same services enjoyed in developed nations, even the full extraction of metals from the Earth's crust and extensive recycling may not be enough to meet metal demands in the future, according to a new study. Researchers looked at metal stocks thought to exist in the Earth, metal in use by people today, and how much is lost in landfills."

"Using copper stocks in North America as a starting point, the researchers tracked the evolution of copper mining, use and loss during the 20th century. They then combined this information with other data to estimate what the global demand for copper and other metals would be if all nations were fully developed and using modern technologies."

"All of the copper in ore, plus all of the copper currently in use, would be required to bring the world to the level of the developed nations for power transmission, construction and other services and products that depend on the metal. For the entire globe, the researchers estimate that 26 percent of extractable copper in the Earth's crust is now lost in non-recycled wastes. For zinc, that number is 19 percent. These metals are not at risk of immediate depletion, however, because supplies are still large enough to meet demands and mines have become more efficient at extracting these ores."

"But scarce metals, such as platinum, face depletion risks this century because of the lack of suitable substitutes in such devices as catalytic converters and hydrogen fuel cells."

Comments:
Funny thing about metals,is without them we are back to stabbing our food with sticks. It should come as no surprise that little attention is being given to shortages.The general public could not care less, until it effects their daily life... Another point few think about is, the cave man had the same materials available to him as we have today. Wonder what took so long?
 
the general public is still fooling around in real estate or with stocks.
 
I think "ultimate scarcity" that is when something becomes scarce because there's literally 'none of it left on Earth' is never really a problem we actually confront.

I'm not belittling the fact that we are indeed running out of certain resources, but its the "running out" part that takes decades or centuries. And economies of scarcity encourage innovation, which should ultimately circumvent the need in the first place.

On that note I'm not much of a peak oil person either. IMHO, we'll never actually reach "ultimate depletion" because prices will favor alternatives long before total depletion occurs.

So as far as copper and platinum go. Yes, short term its a big deal. Long term: absolutely nothing to worry about. If copper goes to $1000/oz, you can rest assured every nanotech geek in the world will be lined up ready to crack the nut.

But I do strongly believe in short term scarcity. Spikes in usage can have tremendous short term effects on supply chains which can cause massive disruptions to markets and global economies. And short term problems *don't* get solved by innovation because innovation takes time.

My 2 cents.
 
The general public is still fooling around in real estate or with stocks.
# posted by john_law_the_II : 9:10 PM

Exactly! I've asked a few people what they think about PM's. They have little or no interest. As has been said here many times once the general public is talking about their PM investments then it's time to jump out...
 
sohonyc:

On that note I'm not much of a peak oil person either. IMHO, we'll never actually reach "ultimate depletion" because prices will favor alternatives long before total depletion occurs.

But I do strongly believe in short term scarcity.

Your second statement belies your first! "Peak Oil" isn't about ultimate depletion, just peak production. Thereafter, demand exceeds supply, leading to your short term scarcity. Alternatives simply cannot be ramped up fast enough.
 
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