Dwindling Resources - A Molehill out of a Mountain

Kevin Lifsey

Presented by Dr. Charles A. Bishop, C.A.Bishop Consulting Ltd.

There has been plenty of publicity about the rapid increase in the price of Indium.
This price rise was as a result of a number of factors such as it only being mined as a byproduct of zinc (1) and their being only limited stockpiles. This was exacerbated by a large increase in its use for transparent conducting coatings for the display industry as well as the newer faster increase in the photovoltaic industry. The net result of this was that companies suddenly found that recycling did make sense and so the supply was enhanced, at least for a time, by the input of recovered indium.

Since that time if you have observed the metals trading markets you will have seen all kinds of price increases in materials that heretofore we have thought of as abundant. In reality with the increased world population and increasing affluence, the demand for goods is increasing and the amount of materials being tied up in these goods is increasing. This requires mining more materials and, for some, this is becoming more difficult and expensive as these materials are found to be increasingly scarce. Therefore it is likely that for many the standard of living and possession of goods will have to decline in future years because of this material scarcity (2).

In this paper I will highlight some of the other materials that may be under threat and hence likely to continue to rise in price.

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