Availability, addiction and alternatives: Three criteria for assessing the impact of peak minerals on society

Mason, L, Prior, T, Mudd, G and Giurco, D 2011, 'Availability, addiction and alternatives: Three criteria for assessing the impact of peak minerals on society', Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 19, no. 910, pp. 958-966.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Availability, addiction and alternatives: Three criteria for assessing the impact of peak minerals on society
Author(s) Mason, L
Prior, T
Mudd, G
Giurco, D
Year 2011
Journal name Journal of Cleaner Production
Volume number 19
Issue number 910
Start page 958
End page 966
Total pages 9
Publisher Elsevier
Abstract The concept of 'peaks' in the production of natural resources has attracted attention in the area of energy production, with concerns about 'peak oil' driving recent research and investment in alternative sources of energy. There are fundamental and important differences between a peak in the production of oil and peaks in the production of metalliferous minerals, but in both cases production changes from 'easier and less expensive' early in a resource's life to 'difficult and expensive' as time progresses. The impacts of this change in production circumstances require critical consideration in the governance of national and sub-national mineral endowments. This paper develops a framework for evaluating the impacts of changing patterns of mineral production. The framework considers three criteria: availability of a resource (considering its geological characteristics and geographical distribution); society's addiction to the resource (its centrality and criticality to economic, social and environmental systems); and the possibility of finding alternatives (whether the resource can be substituted or recovered). An initial assessment against these criteria provides an overview of how a production peak might affect the production of minerals in Australia and the impacts that this might have on the Australian economy. Assessing important resources against these three criteria will be imperative in future considerations regarding the roles minerals and metals play as service providers in our economic, social and environmental systems. Additionally, this analysis should prompt a reassessment of the value of minerals beyond economic measures. Indicators derived from these criteria will inform strategies that can address future changes in production characteristics - meeting challenges with strong governance, and realising opportunities with proactive policy.
Subject Environmental Engineering not elsewhere classified
Keyword(s) Australia
Peak minerals
Peak oil
Resource depletion
DOI - identifier 10.1016/j.jclepro.2010.12.006
Copyright notice © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
ISSN 0959-6526
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