Mineral supply for sustainable development requires resource governance

A Corrigendum to this article was published on 28 June 2017

Abstract

Successful delivery of the United Nations sustainable development goals and implementation of the Paris Agreement requires technologies that utilize a wide range of minerals in vast quantities. Metal recycling and technological change will contribute to sustaining supply, but mining must continue and grow for the foreseeable future to ensure that such minerals remain available to industry. New links are needed between existing institutional frameworks to oversee responsible sourcing of minerals, trajectories for mineral exploration, environmental practices, and consumer awareness of the effects of consumption. Here we present, through analysis of a comprehensive set of data and demand forecasts, an interdisciplinary perspective on how best to ensure ecologically viable continuity of global mineral supply over the coming decades.

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Figure 1: Copper production.
Figure 2: Delays in approved copper projects worldwide based on year of discovery.
Figure 3: World exploration investment, 1975–2015.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are an interdisciplinary group, operating under the Resourcing Future Generations initiative of the International Union of Geological Sciences, the International Council for Science Unions and UNESCO. D. Nyanganyura of the International Council for Science and F. Masotti of Vale Corporation provided comments that led to this Perspective. S. Mohr of the University of Technology Sydney assisted with the model output results presented. Financial support provided by UNESCO, IUGS and ICSU, and logistical support provided by the Namibian Geological Survey, is acknowledged.

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S.H.A. designed and synthesized the written Perspective with N.A. and D.G.; E.N. led S.H.A., D.G., N.A., R.O., L.M., A.D., M.A.E., J.S., G.B., N.Y., A.L., G.S., J.K. and R.D. to develop the analytical framework and policy response recommendations through consensus; O.V. and N.A. contributed data for Fig. 1 and for material in Supplementary Information SI-1; D.G. contributed material in Supplementary Information SI-2; R.S. contributed data for Figs 2 and 3 and material in Supplementary Information SI-4. A.D. contributed material in Supplementary Information SI-5 and provided commentary on geochemical database and other existing tools and their data deficits. M.A.E. and J.S. prepared Box 1.

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Correspondence to Saleem H. Ali.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Reviewer Information Nature thanks J. Gutzmer, S. Kesler and B. Reck for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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This file contains Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Figures, Supplementary Tables and additional references. (PDF 1039 kb)

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Ali, S., Giurco, D., Arndt, N. et al. Mineral supply for sustainable development requires resource governance. Nature 543, 367–372 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature21359

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