Abstract

This chapter focuses on metals as they provide the clearest example of the challenges and opportunities that mineral resources present to society, in terms of both primary production and recycling. Basic concepts, information requirements and sources of consumer and industrial resource demand are described as well as the destabilizing effects of volatile resource prices and supply chain disruptions. Challenges facing extraction of in-ground resources and production of secondary resources are discussed and scenarios for the future considered. The results of the scenarios indicate that particularly energy and, as well, water and land requirements could become increasingly constraining factors for metal production. Key research questions are posed and modeling and data priorities discussed, with an emphasis on areas that require novel concepts and analytic tools to help lessen negative environmental impacts associated with minerals. The challenge of sustainability requires collaboration of practitioners and analysts with a multidisciplinary understanding of a broad set of issues, including economics, engineering, geology, ecology, and mathematical modeling, to name a few, as well as policy formulation and implementation.

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