P. A. J. Lusty, A. G. Gunn, 2015. "Challenges to global mineral resource security and options for future supply", Ore Deposits in an Evolving Earth, G. R. T. Jenkin, P. A. J. Lusty, I. Mcdonald, M. P. Smith, A. J. Boyce, J. J. Wilkinson
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Minerals are vital to support economic growth and the functioning of modern society. Demand for minerals is increasing as global population expands and minerals are used in a greater range of applications, particularly associated with the deployment of new technologies. While concerns about future mineral scarcity have been expressed, these are generally unfounded and based on over-simplistic analysis. This paper considers recent debate around security of mineral supply and technical, geosciences-based options to improve utilization of the resource base and contribute to replenishing reserves. History suggests that increasing demand for minerals and higher prices will generally lead to technological and scientific innovation that results in new or alternative sources of supply. Recent assessments of global mineral endowment suggest that society should be optimistic about its ability to meet future demand for minerals, provided that there is continued innovation and investment in science and technology. Reducing energy consumption and breaking the current link between metal production and greenhouse gas emissions are among the greatest challenges to secure a sustainable mineral supply. However, widespread adoption of low-carbon mineral extraction technologies, underpinned by multidisciplinary research, and increased global utilization of low-carbon energy sources will allow these challenges to be met.
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Ore deposits form by a variety of natural processes that concentrate elements into a volume that can be economically mined. Their type, character and abundance reflect the environment in which they formed and thus they preserve key evidence for the evolution of magmatic and tectonic processes, the state of the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and the evolution of life over geological time. This volume presents 13 papers on topical subjects in ore deposit research viewed in the context of Earth evolution. These diverse, yet interlinked, papers cover topics including: controls on the temporal and spatial distribution of ore deposits; the sources of fluid, gold and other components of orogenic gold deposits; the degree of oxygenation in the Neoproterozoic ocean; bacterial immobilization of gold in the semi-arid near-surface environment; and mineral resources for the future, including issues of resource estimation, sustainability of supply and the criticality of certain elements to society.