For many of the resource we rely on every day, it is the case that there is a limited amount available to us, so some people become concerned about the date we run out. Copper is one of these limited resources and is very widely used through the electronics industry. Fortunately researchers at Monash University have completed a worldwide analysis of copper resources, concluding that there should be plenty of the precious metal for at least a century.
To perform their analysis, the researchers got resource estimates from mining companies, including information on ore grade, which impacts energy-use and carbon modeling. This modeling information is important as the researchers were interested in more than just how much copper is in the ground, but what portion of it can be recovered. Indeed advances in mining technology can increase the amount of copper accessible, and estimates can be lower than reality. The researchers already know of some mining projects that have doubled their estimates since the researchers' database was completed.
With the accessible supply still so great, the researchers have found that what will be ever more impactful on mining are environmental and cultural concerns. Policies and people can shut down a mine just as much as a lode running dry. The researchers are now working on similar databases for other metals.
Source: Monash University