Table 5: Resource Life

TABLE 5. Average reserve life and resource life (years) for major commodities as at December 2016


Ore Reserves at Operating MinesAll Ore Reserves Mineral Resources(1) at Operating Mines Economic Demonstrated Resources(2) All Resources(2)
Bauxite10 28 41 75 115
Black Coal
223560125 280
Ilmenite 11 40 32 200 385
Iron Ore 7 27 19 60 175
Manganese Ore 24 34 44 70 245
Rutile722 17110225
Zircon 8 3320 130235
Copper 20 25 73 95 145
Diamond55 8 10 10
Gold 10 13 22 35 50
Lead22 26 6680 140
Silver14 184665 100
Zinc2127 58 70 115


1.Inferred Resources are excluded from the calculation.
2.Rounded to the nearest five years.

Figures for reserve life and resource life are determined from the ratio of current reserves and resources to the latest production figures and provide an impression of future viability. They are a snapshot in time and do not reflect future changes in production and do not capture resource upgrades or discovery of new resources from future exploration.

In reality, industry practise is to steadily replenish depleted Ore Reserves by upgrading a similar quantity from Measured and Indicated Resources. In turn, Inferred Resources are upgraded to Measured and Indicated and new resources are added through exploration. Figure 1 shows the yearly variations in reserve life since 2002 for major commodities.

This figure is a line graph showing the trends in reserve life for 12 major commodities from 2002 to 2016. Due to the complexity of this image and the niche scientific target audience, no alternative description has been provided. Please email Geoscience Australia at for an alternative description.
Figure 1. Trends in reserve life for major commodities from 2002 to 2016.