The sustainability of a mineral resource depends, among other aspects, on what the mineral in question will be used for, price fluctuations, future resource requirements, and downstream manufacturing. A balance must be struck between the long-term commitment of developing a mineral deposit against the short-term threats of a changing commercial and social environment. Long-term resource sustainability is dependent both on increased efficiency, which improves profitability, and on revitalizing marginal mines. This is illustrated through breakthroughs in the processing of low-grade copper and refractory gold ores, as well as nickel laterite ores. Retreatment of mine wastes and tailings can also increase the sustainability of mining activity. Ongoing research and development is also helping to sustain mineral resource exploitation.

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