Relative Discovery Potential of the Principal Economic Metals
The outlook for supplying the world's metal needs in the next twenty-five years is good, although in several cases basic costs are likely to increase with rising demand. Metal prices calculated at a constant dollar from 1900 to the present show that for nickel, copper, silver, lead, zinc and tin, prices - and presumably production costs - fell from 1900 to the early 1930s. Since then, they have generally risen, apparently reflecting some depletion in relation to demand. This tendency has been accentuated since the post-World War II adoption of managed, full-employment, growth economics, which have resulted in a sharp escalation in world demand for metals. (Abandonment of such pol' ies, apparently now under consideration in North America, would, of course, affect the predictions of this paper.) Nevertheless, metal prices generally are still below those prevailing in 1900. Exploration potential exists for disseminated ores of many metals still thought of as characteristic of lode and vein deposits. These include uranium, silver, gold, tin and nickel and, to a lesser extent, lead and zinc. Considering the discovery potential for some principal metals in relation to expected demand and prices, I would tend to rate them as follows: molybdenum, zinc, lead, uranium, silver, gold, tin, nickel and copper.
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