Resource estimation from historical data: Mercury, a test case

  • S. M. Cargill
  • D. H. Root
  • E. H. Bailey


A simple technique based on historical records of tonnage and grade of ore produced provides a means for calculating how much of a mineral product will be available in the future at various average grades. Estimates made on this basis are independent of geologic considerations or changing economic and political factors, although they are based on mining history, which was largely determined by these factors. The relatively minor element, mercury, was used for the test case reported here, but the method has been found applicable to forecasts of resources for other mineral products. Mercury resources available in ore in which the average grade is as low as 0.1% are estimated to be 53 ×106kg (1.5 ×106flasks) for the United States and 1551 ×106kg (45 ×106flasks) for the world; this amount is more than adequate to meet predicted demand to the year 2000. The expectable price of mercury in 1978 dollars at this 0.1% grade is projected to be $58.75 per kg ($2,025 per flask), but at a 10% annual inflation rate, it would be more than $12,000 per flask. To satisfy just the projected U.S. demand for mercury by 2000, the price is calculated to be $48.96 per kg ($1,688 per flask) in 1978 dollars at an average annual grade of 0.12%.

Key words

mercury resource estimation production data 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Cargill
    • 1
  • D. H. Root
    • 1
  • E. H. Bailey
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyRestonUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyMenlo ParkUSA

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