As we dig, drill, and excavate to unearth the planet?s mineral bounty, the resources we exploit from ores, veins, seams, and wells are gradually becoming exhausted. Mineral treasures that took millions, or even billions, of years to form are now being squandered in just centuries?or sometimes just decades.
Will there come a time when we actually run out of minerals? Ugo Bardi delivers a sweeping history of the mining industry, starting with its humble beginning when our early ancestors started digging to find the stones they needed for their tools. He traces the links between mineral riches and empires, wars, and civilizations, and shows how mining in its various forms became one of the largest global industries. He also illustrates how today’s gigantic industrial mining machine is starting to show signs of difficulty. The least expensive to extract and process mineral resources have mostly been exploited and depleted. There are plenty of minerals left to extract, but they will come at higher cost and increasing difficulty.
Depletion is not the only problem. Mining has a dark side ? pollution ? that takes many forms and delivers many consequences, including climate change. Bardi offers a compelling glimpse into the world ahead.