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Mineral Resources

Author: Dr Kelvin Klemm

( Article Type: Explanation )

Minerals refers to commodities such as gold and silver, but also to coal, oil and iron ore. When one refers to mineral resources it implies the amounts of these various minerals that are spread around the world.

Usually in referring to mineral resources, it implies resources that are still in the ground and not yet mined, but occasionally, mined stockpiles of ore that are above ground but not yet beneficiated, can be included.

The term ‘resources’ is reasonably difficult to quantify because a country’s proven mineral reserves refers to minerals still in the ground, but which can be recovered and beneficiated at a particular price. If a country has a large quantity of some mineral resource then they will not exploit deposits of low grade.

But a country that has little of that mineral resource will exploit a low-grade ore that another country may regard as sub-economic. So the true amount of an exploitable resource is largely linked to the political and economic decisions as to what is worthwhile.

Therefore the total amount of exploitable mineral resources at any time can change from year to year, either because new deposits are discovered or because previously sub-economic deposits became economically viable as political and economic circumstances changed.