Published: Jan 1975
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Mining and agriculture are the fundamental industries that convert natural resources into useable forms. The output of our mining, minerals, metal, mineral reclamation, and energy industries was valued at more than $175 billion in 1973. Over 4 billion tons—40 000 lb per person—of new mineral supplies are needed annually in our economy. Our use of energy is equivalent to 300 persons working around-the-clock for each one of our citizens. As we assess our current minerals posture we must keep in mind that our population is but 6 percent of the world's, and our land area but 6 percent of the world's. The other 94 percent of the people on earth also want significantly improved living standards, and world-wide demand for energy and minerals is rising rapidly. Despite our vast natural resources, we find increasing evidence that development of domestic resources is not keeping pace with domestic demand. Also, in the past 3 years our annual deficit in the mineral balance of trade has increased from only $6 billion in 1972 to $24 biilion in 1974. If this trend is not reversed it will approach $100 billion by the year 2000. We must begin now to conserve our natural resources or we may very well perish.
conservation, reclamation, materials recovery, natural resources
Associate director, Bureau of Mines, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.,