With continued sustainable practices,
Zinc will be available for centuries to come.
For decades the world has been concerned about the depletion of natural resources. Because of a modern understanding of zinc reserves and more recycled material, natural zinc resources are available for centuries to come, meeting all future demand without difficulty.
Natural Zinc Resources Will be Available for Centuries to Come
- There is an estimated 2,800 million metric tons (Mt) of zinc contained in the earth’s crust in such form and amount that economic extraction is currently or potentially feasible. Not all of this zinc, however, is immediately available for extraction. The complex interaction of economic, political, and environmental considerations dictate when a particular ore body can or should be developed .
- Predictions by the Club of Rome in 1972 (“Limits to growth”) turned out to be a misinterpretation of economic data.
- The correct use of definitions makes all the difference between long-term availability and depletion.
Future Demand for Zinc Will be Met
Economic development is coupled with the use of metals. The demand for zinc is intimately related to infrastructure growth which is continually increasing in both emerging economies and industrialized countries:
- Since it is estimated that 70% of the global population will move into middle class by 2100, zinc production will grow at a slightly higher rate over the next 80 years.
- By the year 2100, the population growth rate and commodity production rates will begin to plateau; however, in-use stocks (recycling) will continue to expand as a resource (i.e., 2010 recycled content in total zinc use was already >25%).
- The cumulative Zn production from 1960-2100 (~1.9 billion tons) will represent a 325% increase relative to the past 60 years. However, projected annual production in 2100 (~20 million tons/yr) will represent only 0.006% of available reserves. Note: 0.1% of ultimate reserve is estimated mass of lithosphere at 4% zinc or greater (i.e., ~25,000 years of resource availability at current production volumes).