5 Valuable Metals That Could Vanish by 2055

5 Valuable Metals That Could Vanish by 2055

Tyler Shegerian
Tyler Shegerian
Scribol Staff
Environment, June 11, 2010

LandfillPhoto: Fruggo

All of these resources play very important parts in our civilization, and to lose them would be a threat to our society. What do we usually do when feeling threatened? We fight. People are going to begin to fight each other for these resources. But as our society has shown us, war is not the answer to our problems – and this is a big problem. We have to come together to combat this issue. It seems like the simplest ways to do that are through conservation of resources and through the process “of reclaiming compounds and elements from products, buildings and waste” – or ‘urban mining’ as defined by urbanmining.org. We must recycle our products in order to make urban mining easier and more efficient, and we must come together to conserve.

1. Gold
GoldPhoto: Mykl Roventine
One of the world’s most precious resources, so much so that it is labeled as a “precious metal”. Since the beginning of time gold has been highly revered as a sign of wealth or prestige, and even in modern civilization it is used in jewelry, expanding its range into electronics, coinage and dentistry. Although gold has always been expensive, it has always been at a high demand leaving the Earth’s supply scarce. The worst part is that no matter what the demand of it is, the prices really can only go up.
Expiration date: Around 2025

2. Copper
CopperPhoto: Jurii
Copper is mined at a rate of 15.6 billion lb. a year. It is believed that there is only about 500 billion lb. left, making it only possible for it to be mined for another32 years. Copper is used in electrical installations, the building industry, industrial equipment and transport, tying it to many of the worlds largest industries. Copper has a large role in our economic system, and there is very little sign of a comparable substitute.
Expiration date: Around 2042

3. Tin
TinPhoto: Jurii
Used mainly for welding and the plating of metals, tin has great importance in manufacturing. Around 600,000,000 lb. of tin is mined a year, which, at this rate, means tin can be mined for about twenty more years. The largest reserve of tin is possessed by China; it is believed that China possesses nearly thirty percent of the world’s tin reserve.
Expiration date: Around 2030

4. Lead
LeadPhoto: Unknown
With around 7 billion lb. mined a year, lead has around twenty years left until we have mined all of it. Being like most other natural resources, lead is non-renewable and because of the intensive exploitation of the element, by mankind, it will see its expiration faster than other resources. Lead is used in batteries, laminates, chemicals, paint and other miscellaneous applications.
Expiration date: Around 2030

5. Nickel
NickelPhoto: Jurii
With an estimated 134 billion lb. left and at a rate of 3.2 billion lb. mined a year, nickel has about forty-two years remaining as a viable resource. It is used in the production of stainless steel, as well as steel and cast iron alloys. The use of nickel goes back over 5,500 years, making its use an important part of our history. It is thought that there may be nickel at the bottom of the ocean floor, however this would be extremely costly and difficult to mine.
Expiration date: Around 2052

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