Minerals-Supply Security and Mineral-Use Efficiency: Some Observations from the 1970-2005 Interval
As a consequence of the powerful changes that have occurred over the last three decades in the principal 'drivers' of economic change, there have been significant realignments in the global patterns of production and consumption of natural resources, as well as in the intensity of their use, in the quest to raise the level of material well-being throughout the world. In this paper, three large minerals-consuming (and -producing) countries are examined - the USA, China and Russia - and the story of a generation's economic progress (or decline, as the case may be) is seen through the lens of resource consumption - the 'stuff' that comprises a modern 'standard of living'. After presenting data on gross domestic product, population, the observed levels and annual growth rates of consumption and production of four non-fuel minerals over a 35-year interval ending in 2005 for these countries and for the world, the paper includes a description of these countries' growing import dependence (or, as the case may be, their enhanced or reduced role as an exporter to the world economy) for some, or all, of these critical resources over this time period. These changing trends contribute to one of today's 'front-burner' public policy issues: resource-supply security. The last section of the paper examines the changing 'intensity-of-use' of these minerals. The paper concludes with some remarks on the geopolitical/ environmental dilemma associated with resources, which is intensifying as we approach the beginning of the second decade of the twentyfirst century.