The International Availability Of Energy Minerals

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 71, No. 797, 1978

Dr. N. A. White, Managing Partner, Norman White Associates, International Energy Consultants, 6, John Street, London, WC1N 2ES, U.K.

Whereas the ultimate world supply of energy minerals — defined as fossil fuels and fissile materials — is controlled by geological factors, the actual supply at any particular time is controlled by economic feasibility, technological innovations and/or political decisions. This paper identifies and discusses the principal uncertainties surrounding the international availability of energy minerals from now until the end of the century. A brief comparison is also made between energy and non-energy minerals.Genuine shortages of energy minerals are now of a very long-term nature, whereas artificial ones may occur at any time and have a serious effect on the world economy due to the dependence of most OECD countries on imports of energy minerals. This paper argues that events over the last decade, such as the demand for a New International Economic Order, the OPEC increase in crude oil prices and the growing international lobby on environmental issues — especially relating to nuclear safety — will progressively lead to a major, long-lasting transformation of the energy scene world wide. This transformation will encompass demand, in terms of conservation and efficiency, the supply mix of the various energy minerals, the supply system and the structure of the different energy industries. It is already affecting the role of governments and reaching into the question of national sovereignty both of developed countries, such as the U.K., Norway and Australia, and the developing countries, thereby making energy minerals a key area of international relations.
Keywords: Minerals, Energy, Mineral economics, Fossil fuels, Fuel resources, Fissile materials, Economic growth, Petroleum, Natural gas, Coal, Nuclear power, Uranium, Investment, Financing, OECD.