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In this module, the following topics will be covered: 1) the importance of minerals to society; 2) the factors that control availability of mineral resources, 3) the future world mineral supply and demand; 4) the environmental impact of mining and processing of minerals; 5) solutions to the crisis involving mineral supply

Learning objectives

After reading this module, students should be able to

  • know the importance of minerals to society
  • know factors that control availability of mineral resources
  • know why future world mineral supply and demand is an important issue
  • understand the environmental impact of mining and processing of minerals
  • understand how we can work toward solving the crisis involving mineral supply

Importance of minerals

Mineral resources are essential to our modern industrial society and they are used everywhere. For example, at breakfast you drink some juice in a glass (made from melted quartz sand), eat from a ceramic plate (created from clay minerals heated at high temperatures), sprinkle salt (halite) on your eggs, use steel utensils (from iron ore and other minerals), read a magazine (coated with up to 50% kaolinite clay to give the glossy look), and answer your cellphone (containing over 40 different minerals including copper, silver, gold, and platinum). We need minerals to make cars, computers, appliances, concrete roads, houses, tractors, fertilizer, electrical transmission lines, and jewelry. Without mineral resources, industry would collapse and living standards would plummet. In 2010, the average person in the U.S. consumed more than16,000 pounds of mineral resources Americans also consumed more than 21,000 pounds of energy resources from the Earth including coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium. (see Table Per Capita Consumption of Minerals ). With an average life expectancy of 78 years, that translates to about1.3 million pounds of mineral resources over such a person’s lifetime. Here are a few statistics that help to explain these large values of mineral use: an average American house contains about 250,000 pounds of minerals (see Figure Mineral Use in the Kitchen for examples of mineral use in the kitchen), one mile of Interstate highway uses 170 million pounds of earth materials, and the U.S. has nearly 4 million miles of roads. All of these mineral resources are nonrenewable, because nature usually takes hundreds of thousands to millions of years to produce mineral deposits. Early hominids used rocks as simple tools as early as 2.6 million years ago. At least 500,000 years ago prehistoric people used flint (fine-grained quartz) for knives and arrowheads. Other important early uses of minerals include mineral pigments such as manganese oxides and iron oxides for art, salt for food preservation, stone for pyramids, and metals such as bronze (typically tin and copper), which is stronger than pure copper and iron for steel, which is stronger than bronze.

illustration of mineral uses in the kitchen
Mineral Use in the Kitchen Source: U.S. Geological Survey

Per capita consumption of nonenergy related minerals and metals in the U.S. for 2010 and for a lifetime of 78.3 years assuming 2010 mineral consumption rates Sources: US Geological Survey, National Mining Association, and U.S. Census Bureau
Mineral Per Capita Consumption of Minerals – 2010 (Pounds per Person) Per Capita Consumption of Minerals - Lifetime (Pounds Per Person)
Bauxite (Aluminum) 65 5,090
Cement 496 38,837
Clays 164 12,841
Copper 12 939.6
Iron Ore 357 27,953
Lead 11 861
Manganese 5 392
Phosphate Rock 217 16,991
Potash 37 2,897
Salt 421 32,964
Sand, Gravel, Stone 14,108 1,104,656
Soda Ash 36 2,819
Sulfur 86 6,734
Zinc 6 470
Other Metals 24 1,879
Other Nonmetals 332 25,996
Total 16,377 1,282,319

Questions & Answers

how environment affect demand and supply of commodity ?
Amos Reply
Wht at the criteria for market ?
what is difference between monitory policy and fiscal policy?
Malik Reply
monetary policy is a policy thrust by National Govt(CBN) to influence government spending, purchase &taxes
necessity of economics
Pamela Reply
I will say want,choice,opportunity cost,scarcity,scale of preference
what is monopoly market.How price output are determined under monopoly market
b) Monopoly market is an impecfect market where s single firm having the innovation to produce a particular commodity.Prices are determined through output since there are no other competitive.
Monopoly market:firm has market power & does not respond to market price
Explain the process of price determination under perfect competition market with suitable diagram
bisham Reply
Price determination under perfect competition via this process :firms have no market power to influence price rather firms respond to market price.
price is different from demand- demand is amount of commodity
Effah Reply
demand is amount /quantity of commodity a potential buyer is willing to buy at a given price at market
demand is a desire of customer on commodity with the ability to pay it and willing to buy it at given price of commodity
demand is price of what
Faith Reply
show that shortrun average cost
Baby Reply
what is economics
Mbah Reply
what is money
what is money
Difine macro economics
money is a medium of exchange between goods and services,maybe inform of currency.
Economics is study of how human beings strive to satisfy numerous wants using limited available resources.
how do you find the maximum number of workers the firms should employ order to produce where there are increasing returns
what are implications of computing national income?.
what is the formulae for calculating national income
it calculated by value added method
classify the production units like agriculture, banking, transport etc
money is anything that is generally acceptetable for human
Estimate the net value added(NVA) at fixed cost by each industrial structure
definition of unemployment
Adam Reply
what are the causes of unemployment?
Mbubi Reply
The main causes of unemployment are listed below. 1. Frictional unemployment 2. Cyclical unemployment 3. Structural unemployment
We can also categorize the causes on a broader sense as: 1. Political and 2. Social cause As unemployeement root causes are embaded in this two.
would opportunity cost exist if there was no scarcity?
yes just because the opportunity cost arose when there is Alternative to choose among the alternatives.
I am thinking that, if our resources were unlimited, then there wouldn't be any need to forgo some wants. Hence the inexistence if opportunity cost
politics has done what?
consider time assani
I'm Emmanuel,...I taught the main cause is the change in gov't.
...Lack of capital to set up a firm respectively
I would like to bring in Educational levels can also be the cause the cause of the problem respectively
lack of skills among the new generation is the serious issue.
Where I come from , I don't see why education or personal aspects seem to do with unimployment, technically the motivation and eigerness in all works of live is there , dispite the cultural influence and physical bearriors;the thing we lacking is Government Support and open market ethics.
sorry about that-(repation). We have a over powering ethical political system that's displacing the marketing asspects of economy and causing large scale unemployment right across the board...
can someone Explain Expansionary Monetary Policy and Contractionary Monetary Policy Using one of the instrument of Monetary Policy? Please am kinda lost here?. ta
Emmanuel Reply
using a graph show the case of substitute and compliment goods
Ade Reply
can anyone give me a simple explanation to Five Sector Macroeconomics?
Can someone please define what economics is
jason Reply
economics simply is a social science subject that study human behavior.
economics is a social science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means that has alternative uses
Can someone please tell me how to calculate GDP
emmanual kapal to calculate GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has three method in calculating it (1)income approach (2) expenditure approach (3) value added method
thanks Alae
u are welcome
in basic terms economics is revered to as battery system, it date back to when Men sees the need to exchange sapless goods and produce to gain , either wealth , basic necessities or to establish trading ties for personal benefit or social asspects in terms of coexistence and continuity, future .
what is the law of demand
Berlinda Reply
keep other thing constant, when the price increases demand decrease when the price decreases demand increases of the commodity.
all things being equal,quantity demanded decrease as price increase and increase as price decrease
there's practial joke to it ..." the higher the demand ; scarcity, increase in production and drop in quality"... quite the controversy - for example China vs Europe, United States and we are all boxed up in between somewhere...
Other thing remain constant the low price of commodity the high quantity of commodity and vice versa is true
Explain Effective demand
Anita Reply
What is effective demand
like Modi is in demand...best example of effective demand
Don't get you
Anita you mean you don't get me or who?
level of demand that represents a real intention to purchase by people with the means to pay
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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