Find out what the estimated global proved reserve

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Reference no: EM131233328

INTRODUCTION TO GEOGRAPHY

TOPIC 5-THE FINITE WORLD OF NATURAL RESOURCES

EXERCISE 3-THE NATURE AND LONGEVITY OF COMMERCIAL MINERAL RESOURCES

Commercial minerals are natural resources in the earth's crust that people exploit for economic and technological gain. Many of the most important minerals are being depleted at a rapid rate today. The estimates of just how long (or short) the known deposits of some of these materials -especially the really basic ones - will last may surprise and even shock you.

Keep in mind that the "proved reserve" of a substance only reflects what we know about and can access today. There may be mineral deposits that we cannot yet identify because they lie under the oceans, beneath ice masses, or are too deep for today's technologies. Nevertheless, the proved reserve concept provides a good way of measuring and understanding the powerful but tentative nature of our relationship with the earth's bounty.

INSTRUCTIONS

I. Select a specific quantifiable commercial mineral in the earth's crust from the following list:

Cadmium               Lead               Nickel
Copper                  Manganese      Tin
Graphite                Mercury           Uranium
Iron                      Molybdenum     Zinc

2. Research how and where the mineral is exploited today and how it is used.

3. Discover the rate of exploitation: how much we exploit (mine and process) each year across the world. Make sure that you provide an appropriate unit of measurement (such as tons or cubic meters)-a number that represents an amount of something is meaningless without the unit of measurement.

4. Find out what the estimated global proved reserve of the mineral is today not including recycling (recycled material has already been removed from the earth, so it is not part of the proved reserve estimate).

5. Calculate how long (in years or months) the global proved reserve is estimated to last (longevity) at the current rate of exploitation.

• You can do this easily by dividing the proved reserve amount by the amount mined each year (proved reserve/exploitation). Make sure that your units of measurement (such as tons or cubic meters) are the same when you do this so that you calculation will make sense.

• Reflect on what you have discovered. Are you surprised? What does your research suggest about the future of some commercial minerals?

6. Prepare a typed page with name, section, mineral resource and research results from parts 2, 3, 4, and 5 above. You must present all of your sources in an appropriate academic format. The guidelines continue on the next page.

The Web is a bountiful source of information for this exercise. An excellent source is the annual "Mineral Commodities Summaries" maintained by the USGS for all commercial minerals. I have uploaded a copy of the most recent document to Blackboard. Please do not print it out-it is very long-so use it on your computer. Use the appendices in the USGS document to understand definitions of terms and units of measurement if they are not provided on your specific mineral's page. Be aware that the concepts "World Resources" and "Reserves" are very different in this document. "World Resources" means an educated guess at how much the earth contains while "Reserve" means the quantified amount that could be mined and/or processed today (the proved reserve)-it is this latter concept that you should use for this exercise.

Just a few years ago, the USGS provided clear-cut longevity estimates in these summaries for each mineral but industry pressure has now forced them to hide their conclusions. You can still calculate longevity by examining the "World Mine Production and Reserves" section at the end of each mineral summary (for example, compare the annual world mine production to the reserves). if you use the USGS data sheets, you may wish to consult the appendices to learn important abbreviations and calculations.

If you use other sources on the Web, be careful how you interpret them. Since these minerals are relatively rare and very valuable, there are strong economic and political pressures to limit information about longevity or to engage in disinformation. Industry websites and industry-friendly media may be unreliable sources. Do your best to find and use real and reliable data on exploitation and proved reserve and not just industry opinion or spin. As with any kind of good academic research, you should consult more than one source and compare them.

Reference no: EM131233328

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