Modelling future copper ore grade decline based on a detailed assessment of copper resources and mining

Northey, S, Mohr, S, Mudd, G, Weng, Z and Giurco, D 2014, 'Modelling future copper ore grade decline based on a detailed assessment of copper resources and mining', Resources, Conservation and Recycling, vol. 83, pp. 190-201.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Modelling future copper ore grade decline based on a detailed assessment of copper resources and mining
Author(s) Northey, S
Mohr, S
Mudd, G
Weng, Z
Giurco, D
Year 2014
Journal name Resources, Conservation and Recycling
Volume number 83
Start page 190
End page 201
Total pages 12
Publisher Elsevier
Abstract The concept of "peak oil" has been explored and debated extensively within the literature. However there has been comparatively little research examining the concept of "peak minerals", particularly in-depth analyses for individual metals. This paper presents scenarios for mined copper production based upon a detailed assessment of global copper resources and historic mine production. Scenarios for production from major copper deposit types and from individual countries or regions were developed using the Geologic Resources Supply-Demand Model (GeRS-DeMo). These scenarios were extended using cumulative grade-tonnage data, derived from our resource database, to produce estimates of potential rates of copper ore grade decline. The scenarios indicate that there are sufficient identified copper resources to grow mined copper production for at least the next twenty years. The future rate of ore grade decline may be less than has historically been the case, as mined grades are approaching the average resource grade and there is still significant copper endowment in high grade ore bodies. Despite increasing demand for copper as the developing world experiences economic growth, the economic and environmental impacts associated with increased production rates and declining ore grades (particularly those relating to energy consumption, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions) will present barriers to the continued expansion of the industry. For these reasons peak mined copper production may well be realised during this century.
Subject Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified
Resources Engineering and Extractive Metallurgy not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Copper
Mining
Ore grade decline
Peak minerals
Resource depletion
Scarcity
DOI - identifier 10.1016/j.resconrec.2013.10.005
Copyright notice © 2013 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
ISSN 0921-3449
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