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Exploration: What reserves and resources?

: Vaccari, D.A.; Mew, M.; Scholz, R.W.; Wellmer, F.-W.


Scholz, R.W.; Ulrich, A.E.; Brand, F.S.; Roy, A.H.; Hellums, D.T. ; Fraunhofer-Institut für Silicatforschung -ISC-, Project Group Materials Recycling and Resource -IWKS-, Alzenau:
Sustainable phosphorus management : A global transdisciplinary roadmap
Dordrecht: Springer Science+Business Media, 2014
ISBN: 978-94-007-7249-6 (Print)
ISBN: 978-94-007-7250-2 (Online)
Book Article
Fraunhofer ISC ()

The Exploration Node focuses on the search for assessment and quantification of phosphate reserves and resources in relation to the geopotential (i.e., the undiscovered reserves and resources). The Exploration Node encompasses all aspects of the predevelopment stages of phosphate deposits from initial discovery of deposits to the involved feasibility studies required to obtain funding for the development of a mine. The feasibility of producing phosphate rock (PR) can be broadly defined in terms of technical feasibility and economic feasibility. In order for potential ores to be classified as reserves, consideration must be given to issues of grade, quality, operating, and investment costs which include studies of the accessibility and availability of financing. Details about these considerations are often proprietary, making it difficult to publically assess the resource picture. Phosphorus is the eleventh most abundant element. P is essential for life and cannot be sub stituted by other elements in food production. The given knowledge about reserves and resources, the accessibility, and scarcity of phosphorus and phosphate rock may depend on available technologies and is finally an economic question. We discuss a number of parameters which may indicate whether scarcity of a resource may be an increasing concern. These include the resource/consumption ratio, Hubbert-curve-based peak predictions, trends in ore grade, new resource discovery rates, and resource pricing as they are important for understanding exploration efforts. We further discuss estimates of reserves and the trends in actual estimates of phosphate reserves. P reserve estimates are dynamic and will increase for some time. Nevertheless, at some time in the long-term future, there will be a peak such as there will be a point in time that mined P becomes less economical than conservation and recovery.