Are poor countries with large populations likely to run out of resources?



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    Depends on what you mean by resources – do you mean whatever they have within their borders? If so, then even rich countries with small populations are likely to “run out” of some resources, at least affordably. For example, the US has run out of economic deposits of bauxite, the only ore of aluminum. The US has no viable reserves (i.e., 100% dependent on imports) of natural diamond, cobalt, arsenic, antimony, manganese, graphite, fluorspar, nickel, strontium, tantalum, tin, titanium, tungsten, and vanadium. While you may not know of some of those, or think you care about others, you should — virtually every American uses all of those commodities every single day of his or her life. And there are many others for which the US is more than 50% dependent on imports.

    Small but rich countries likewise will be poorly endowed with many resources simply because they are small.

    Poor countries (and obviously it depends on what you mean by “poor”) may be extremely rich in some resources – for example, Chile leads the world in producing copper, iodine, lithium and rhenium; India is #1 in garnet and sheet mica; Greece leads in perlite production; Turkey is #1 in boron, feldspar, and pumice. Botswana is the world leader in gem diamonds. Ukraine has more manganese reserves than any nation. Congo has more cobalt; Morocco has more phosphate rock. As with the US, they will all be dependent on imports for many, many commodities.

    It is the world that is likely to “run out” of various resources, and the US, as by far the largest consumer, is far in the lead in doing so.

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