The commodities considered are mercury, copper and its byproducts gold and silver, and petroleum; the production and discovery data are for the US. The results indicate that the cumulative return per unit of effort, herein measured as grade of metal ores and discovery rate of recoverable petroleum, is proportional to a negative power of total effort expended, herein measured as total ore mined and total exploratory wells or footage drilled. This power relationship can be extended to some limiting point (a lower ore grade or a maximum number of exploratory wells or footage), and the apparent quantity of available remaining resource at that limit can be calculated. -from Authors
Additional publication details
Estimating usable resources from historical industry data.