Summary of Reserve and Resource Life
Australia has vast resources of many of the 35 major and minor mineral commodities covered in this report, as well as unquantified resources of many other minerals, some of which are considered critical for modern and emerging technologies and by trading partners.
It is not possible to state with any certainty how long Australia’s resources will last because production rates vary, the economic viability of deposits may change in the future and the rate of new resource delineation rarely matches resource depletion. However, a general impression of the range of possibilities can be gained by deriving the ratio of the various 2020 reserve and resource estimates to 2020 production figures (Table 6). Operating mines have provided the production rates for each commodity and the resulting ratios are an average mine life that assumes the unlikely scenario that no new mines are ever developed, no mines are closed or, if so, other mines make up the shortfall in production.
The reserve and resource life estimations for ‘all deposits’ (Table 6) indicate the potential for longer-term mineral supply in Australia. Using the AEDR/production ratio as the best proxy for a long-term outlook, it is only diamond, gold and manganese ore that have resource lives of less than 50 years.
Table 6. Average reserve life and resource life (years) for selected commodities as at December 2020.
|Commodity||Operating Mines1||All Deposits|
|Ore Reserves2||Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources3||All Resources4||Ore Reserves5||AEDR6||All Resources7|
Reserve and resource life for each mineral commodity are calculated by dividing the inventory by production. The resulting ratio is a snapshot in time that can only be used for general impressions because it is an average and it assumes (1) that production rates in the future will remain the same as those used in the calculation, (2) deposits deemed economic/uneconomic remain so in the future and (3) that depleted resources are never replaced.
1. Operating mines includes all mines that operated during 2020 and thus contributed to production (see Table 1).
2. Ore Reserves as reported in compliance with the JORC Code, plus non-JORC Code equivalents (see Table 1).
3. Measured and Indicated Mineral Resources, inclusive of Ore Reserves, as reported in compliance with the JORC Code, plus non-JORC Code-equivalents (see Table 1).
4. All Resources for Operating Mines includes Measured, Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources, inclusive of Ore Reserves, as reported in compliance with the JORC Code, plus non-JORC Code-equivalents (see Table 1).
5. Ore Reserves as reported in compliance with the JORC Code, plus non-JORC Code equivalents (see Table 2).
6. AEDR = Accessible Economic Demonstrated Resources (see Table 3). Figures rounded to nearest five years.
7. All Resources for All Deposits includes EDR, Subeconomic Demonstrated Resources and Inferred Resources (see Table 3). Figures rounded to nearest five years.