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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Jan 31;103(5):1209-14. Epub 2006 Jan 23.

Metal stocks and sustainability.

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  • 1Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University, P.O. Box 208109, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.

Abstract

The relative proportions of metal residing in ore in the lithosphere, in use in products providing services, and in waste deposits measure our progress from exclusive use of virgin ore toward full dependence on sustained use of recycled metal. In the U.S. at present, the copper contents of these three repositories are roughly equivalent, but metal in service continues to increase. Providing today's developed-country level of services for copper worldwide (as well as for zinc and, perhaps, platinum) would appear to require conversion of essentially all of the ore in the lithosphere to stock-in-use plus near-complete recycling of the metals from that point forward.

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