Nonrenewable Resources

Three types of extraction are relevant to the needs of land by NRRs:

1. land for construction minerals (e.g., crunched stone, sand),

2. land for open-pit mining (coal, minerals) including tailings ponds,

3. land for subsurface extraction (oil, minerals) including tailings ponds, and little qualitative evaluation of this amount of land, either active or remnant, has been done. Unlike some other land users, however, land used for NRR cannot support concomitant users, even after NRR is finished. In general, these users are short term, because when a resource reservoir is exhausted, the user stops, generally in a 50-100 year time frame.

In a 1980 report (Barney 1980), surfaces used for these uses were estimated. The area for coal mining was much larger than for other uses, and that fact almost certainly has not changed. In India, contemporary coal mining uses around 1,252 km2 of land, or about 0.04% of the country's total land surface (Juwarkar et al. 2009). Between 1930 and 1980, the sum of all mining activities in the U.S. utilized approximately 0.25% of the country's land area (NRC 1997b). It is therefore clear that the total amount of land needed for NRR is quite small, at least on a regional or global level.

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