Article published in Elements, an international magazine of Mineralogy, Geochemistry, and Petrology
The consumption of mineral resources and energy has increased exponentially over the last 100 years. Further growth is expected until at least the middle of the 21st century as the demand for minerals is stimulated by the industrialization of poor countries, increasing urbanization, penetration of rapidly evolving high technologies, and the transition to low-carbon energies. In order to meet this demand, more metals will have to be produced by 2050 than over the last 100 years, which raises questions about the sustainability and conditions of supply. The answers to these questions are not only a matter of available reserves. Major effort will be required to develop new approaches and dynamic models to address social, economic, environmental, geological, technological, legal and geopolitical impacts of the need for resources.
The purpose of this article is to reformulate a clear and in-depth state of knowledge provided by a thermo-evolutionary perspective of the economic system. It is shown that during the entire human history, energy has been central to direct the successive phases of technological change and economic development.
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