Discovery of natural resources




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Mankind will continue to need ores of more or less the types and grades used today to supply its needs for new mineral raw materials, at least until fusion or some other relatively cheap, inexhaustible energy source is developed. Most deposits being mined today were exposed at the surface or found by relatively simple geophysical or other prospecting techniques, but many of these will be depleted in the foreseeable future. The discovery of deeper or less obvious deposits to replace them will require the conjunction of science and technology to deduce the laws that governed the concentration of elements into ores and to detect and evaluate the evidence of their whereabouts. Great theoretical advances are being made to explain the origins of ore deposits and understand the general reasons for their localization. These advances have unquestionable value for exploration. Even a large deposit is, however, very small, and, with few exceptions, it was formed under conditions that have long since ceased to exist. The explorationist must suppress a great deal of "noise" to read and interpret correctly the "signals" that can define targets and guide the drilling required to find it. Is enough being done to ensure the long-term availability of mineral raw materials? The answer is probably no, in view of the expanding consumption and the difficulty of finding new deposits, but ingenuity, persistence, and continued development of new methods and tools to add to those already at hand should put off the day of "doing without" for many years. The possibility of resource exhaustion, especially in view of the long and increasing lead time needed to carry out basic field and laboratory studies in geology, geophysics, and geochemistry and to synthesize and analyze the information gained from them counsels against any letting down of our guard, however (17). Research and exploration by government, academia, and industry must be supported and encouraged; we cannot wait until an eleventh hour to mount a "crash program.".

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Discovery of natural resources
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