Global Resource Assessments of Primary Metals: An Optimistic Reality Check

Gavin M. Mudd, Simon M. Jowitt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The mining of primary metals is critical for a range of modern infrastructure and goods and the continuing growth in global population and consumption means that these primary metals are expected to remain in high demand. However, metallic deposits are, in essence, finite and non-renewable—leading to some concern that we may run out of a given metal in the future. Here, we address this concern by presenting a brief review of the reporting of mineral resource estimates, compiling detailed datasets for national and global trends in mineral resources for numerous metals, and present detailed case studies of major mining projects or fields. The evidence clearly shows strong growth in known mineral resources and cumulative production over time rather than any evidence of gradual resource depletion. In addition, the key factors that already govern existing mining projects and mineral resources are certainly social, environmental and economic in nature rather than geological or related to physical resource depletion. Overall, there is great room for optimism in terms of humankind’s ability to supply future generations with the metals they will require.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-240
Number of pages12
JournalNatural Resources Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • base metals
  • critical metals
  • Mineral resources
  • sustainable mining

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