Exhaustion of cheap mineral resources is terraforming Earth scientific report | Nafeez Ahmed

Soaring costs of resource extraction require transition to post-industrial ‘circular economy’ to avoid collapse

A new landmark scientific report drawing on the work of the world’s leading mineral experts forecasts that industrial civilisation’s extraction of critical minerals and fossil fuel resources is reaching the limits of economic feasibility, and could lead to a collapse of key infrastructures unless new ways to manage resources are implemented.

The peer-reviewed study the 33rd Report to the Club of Rome is authored by Prof Ugo Bardi of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Florence, where he teaches physical chemistry. It includes specialist contributions from fifteen senior scientists and experts across the fields of geology, agriculture, energy, physics, economics, geography, transport, ecology, industrial ecology, and biology, among others.

"The production of many mineral commodities appears to be on the verge of decline we may be going through a century-long cycle that will lead to the disappearance of mining as we know it."

"The easily exploited part of the reserves has been already removed, and so it will be increasingly difficult and expensive to invest in and exploit nickel and zinc mines."

"Prices have gone up by a factor 3-5 and have remained at these level for the past 5-6 years. They are not going to go down again, because they are caused by irreversible increases in production costs. These prices are already causing the decline of the less efficient economies (say, Italy, Greece, Spain, etc.). We are not at the inversion point yet, but close – less than a decade?"

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