This chapter on nonfuel minerals and the next on energy concern the issue of long-term resource adequacy. Are resources likely to be available during the next fifty years in the quantities necessary to satisfy projected demands without substantial increases in prices? If not, what price increases are likely to be necessary to close the gap between supply and demand, and what are the effects of those increases likely to be? In addition, how sensitive are these answers to different assumptions about population and economic growth rates and, especially in the case of energy, certain policy and technological options?
Resource shortages can occur for several reasons. Ore deposits may become depleted. There may be restrictions for environmental or other reasons on using some deposits. Investment in capacity to produce from usable, high-quality deposits may be inadequate. Short-term disruptions, such as strikes or business cycles, may occur. Government or cartel actions may impose constraints on trade. The emphasis here is on longer term reasons for shortages, in particular, the possibility of depletion. Accordingly, year-by-year comparisons between supply and demand are of less concern than are comparisons between the stock of resources available and the cumulative demand for them over a series of years. Nevertheless, supply bottlenecks and production problems cannot be completely ignored; particularly in the case of energy, these problems do figure importantly in parts of the analysis.
The first section of this chapter begins by discussing several basic concepts, and the terms adequacy, exhaustion, reserves, and resources are defined, as well as various breakdowns of the last term that are used to describe degrees of availability. It then reviews what is known about the quantities of various nonfuel minerals likely to be available in the future, discusses the estimates this study uses, and presents the methods developed to project demand in major regions of the world. The chapter's sec