Many articles show us that the raw minerals from the earth will be exhausted in few decades but a study concludes it just the opposite.
University of Geneva, Switzerland has shown that raw minerals like copper, zinc etc are sufficient to meet the growing demand from industrialisation and demographic changes. The real problem of shortage will only arise from economy, environmental and societal pressures but not from the physical exploitation.
‘Geochemical perspectives’ is the journal by the scientists from the university that suggests the possibility of non-renewable sources to sustain. International research team from that university argues that even though resources are finite they are sufficient for at least many centuries even by taking into consideration the increasing demand and growing needs of society.
The researchers came to this conclusion by using a basic knowledge by differentiating resources and reserves which simply means the minerals that are ready to be exploited and minerals that are yet to be discovered, respectively.
Lluis Fontbote, professor in department of earth sciences, University of Geneva explains :
“Majority of mined deposits are discovered at the uppermost crust surface of around 300 meters while it is obvious that deposits ae also present at greater depths. Current techniques allow mining to depths around 2000 to 3000 meters and many minerals deposits that exists ae yet to be discovered.”
He also says “There are two real problems that we come across . They are operational and economic issues and societal and environmental issues.”
As an example of the operational issue he said that there has been some mineral shortages in the past during China’s growth and this was caused not due to the lack of supply but lack of techniques.
He also mentioned that mining has been undeniably linked to environmental degradation and this can be minimised by using modern technology in depleting minerals from the earth with proper knowledge which is obtained through research.
Professor Fontbote added that there is a new challenge we will be facing in future and that is “rapid evolution of technologies will eventually reduce our need for raw minerals but these technologies need new metals .(For example: 60 elements are used in making a smart phone)”
He concluded the discussion by saying that the solution would be finding ways to discover and mine required mineral sources by respecting the environment and interests of local communities.