Are Humans Running Out of Metal?
Metal — it’s in almost everything. The computer, tablet or phone you are using to read this article contains metal. The building you are sitting comfortably in at this moment contains metal. Each year, billions of various products are created and sold that each contains metal. This raises the question: are humans running out of metal? How are we able to sustain a demand of such unfathomable quantities? Today, Hill Metal Recycling is going to explore these interesting questions.
What Is a Non-Renewable Resource?
The first distinction to make is between renewable and non-renewable resources. A common misconception is that non-renewable resources are entirely finite, but this is not strictly true. It’s important to note that elements replenish over time; however, we class resources as non-renewable because the rate in which we use them is greater than the rate at which they are replenished, ultimately leading to a reduction in the number of resources over time if our usage continues.
Is Metal a Non-Renewable Resource?
Metal ores are regarded as non-renewable resources as they can take thousands, if not millions of years to replenish depending on type.
This does not, however, mean that we are at risk of depleting the Earth’s metal resources. Metal exists in vast quantities in the Earth’s crust, and many people underestimate the sheer size and volume of our planet. Humans have been mining for an estimated 40,000 years and yet we have only really scratched the surface. In fact, the deepest mine ever created by humans is approximately 2.4 miles deep. The Earth’s crust is approximately 21 miles deep, and even that is less than 1% of the planet’s overall volume. It is safe to assume then that we will never exhaust the Earth’s metal resources in their entirety.
So What’s The Issue?
The common confusion is that while there is an abundance of elements and minerals on our planet, we currently lack the ability to harvest them all. We are uncertain of exactly where many of these elements are hiding, and much of it we simply lack the technology to reach. This is where the problem begins to manifest.
Pricing has a lot to do with it too. If prices of precious metal — gold for example — become too low, it no longer becomes economically viable to mine, and reserves start to become depleted. With a lack of technology, a lack of knowledge and a lack of will, we may start to ‘run out’ — but only run out of our reserves, and not run out of available elements on the planet as a whole.
When new technology becomes prevalent or prices increase, we’re bound to find that our reserves get topped up once again. However, whether this will happen is contested amongst experts. The best thing we can do to ensure our metal reserves remain flowing is to recycle.
Why Is Metal Recycling Important?
Recycling reduces the need to mine for new metal by reusing the metals that are already available. Luckily, metal is highly recyclable; the vast amount can be recycled time and time again without any alteration to their properties. Owners of everyday products containing metals can simply and efficiently sell their scrap to reputable merchants, who can then process the products down to their initial elements, before selling them back to various industries to use in products once again. By continuing this cycle, we can ensure that our metal reserves continue to flourish regardless of what the future may hold.
Here at Hill Metal Recycling, we offer some of the best prices on a wide range of metals. Whether you’ve got an old car, a computer or just some pieces of wire, bring it down to Hill Metal Recycling (or arrange collection) and we’ll do the rest. Give us a call today to learn more.