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Resources 2015, 4(4), 857-870; doi:10.3390/resources4040857

Physical Assessment of the Mineral Capital of a Nation: The Case of an Importing and an Exporting Country

1
Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption (CIRCE), Mariano Esquillor n.15, Zaragoza 50018, Spain
2
Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Universidad Piloto de Colombia. Carrera 9 No. 45A-44, Bogotá 110231, Colombia
3
MARETEC, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Avenida Rovisco Pais, 1, Lisboa 1049-001, Portugal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mario Schmidt
Received: 23 September 2015 / Revised: 4 November 2015 / Accepted: 10 November 2015 / Published: 16 November 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Consideration of Abiotic Natural Resources in Life Cycle Assessments)
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Abstract

Intensified mineral consumption and reserve depletion means that it is becoming increasingly important for policymakers to account for and manage national mineral capital. Exergy replacement costs (ERC), an indicator based on the second law of thermodynamics, provides a physical value of mineral loss. When only a unit mass analysis is used, the role of scarcer minerals, such as gold, is obscured. ERC can identify those minerals which are most critical and more difficult to re-concentrate. This paper compares the mineral depletion of that of Colombia and Spain for 2011, both in mass and ERC terms. The Colombian mineral balance for that year is predominately based on fossil fuel extraction and exports, whilst Spain produced industrial minerals but relied heavily upon metals and fossil fuel imports. Using exergy replacement costs, an economic analysis was carried out to determine the impact of mineral extraction, in monetary terms, should the cost of re-concentrating such minerals be taken into account. In 2011, the GDP derived from the extractive sectors of either country did not compensate the mineral resource loss, meaning that mineral patrimony is not being properly evaluated. View Full-Text
Keywords: exergy analysis; exergy replacement costs; domestic material consumption; assessment of mineral trade; foreign dependency exergy analysis; exergy replacement costs; domestic material consumption; assessment of mineral trade; foreign dependency
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Calvo, G.; Valero, A.; Carmona, L.G.; Whiting, K. Physical Assessment of the Mineral Capital of a Nation: The Case of an Importing and an Exporting Country. Resources 2015, 4, 857-870.

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