Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The problem with mining

Table courtesy of Steven Rocco.

The image above is one of the best illustrations of the real problem we have with mining. As it was said already with the 1972 study "The Limits to Growth" we are NOT running out of anything. What we are running out of is the resources needed for mining, facing increasing fuel costs and diminishing ore grades.

So, in the table created by Steven Rocco, you see how the cost of diesel fuel used in gold extraction has nearly doubled during the past four years, arriving, at present, to represent about 10% of the market price of gold. We can still afford to mine gold, but the writing is on the wall and not just for gold. The cost of extraction is increasing for all mineral commodities, including fossil fuels, as an unavoidable result of progressive depletion. Obviously, that's not good news for the world's economy, and the increasing expenses needed for extraction are one of the reasons of the present economic troubles.

The question of depletion is the main theme of my new book "Extracted," published by Chelsea Green and expected to be available in May of this year.


Ugo Bardi is a member of the Club of Rome, faculty member of the University of Florence, and the author of "Extracted" (Chelsea Green 2014), "The Seneca Effect" (Springer 2017), and Before the Collapse (Springer 2019)