Areal value assessment of the mineral resources endowment of Israel

  • Dan Gill
  • John C. Griffiths


The achievements of the mineral industry of Israel and an overall reconnaissance of the natural resources endowment of the country have been evaluated by the areal value estimation method, using the COMOD software package. In broad terms, the evaluation relies on geological variables obtained from quantifying the geological map of a region and on cumulative past production records, which, when prorated per unit area, yield a series of “unit regional values” (u.r.v.)measurements for individual commodities, resource sectors, and total resources. The two groups of variables facilitate conducting comparisons with other well-developed and/or geologically similar regions from which the future potential of the region, with respect to both overall endowment and individual commodities, can be assessed. The model underlying this appraisal method assumes that all regions above a size of about 5,000 sq kms are equally valuable with respect to total endowment in natural resources, regardless of inherent geological characteristics. To date, several areal value estimation studies have been carried out for 11 different countries, encompassing a total of 111 politically-administratively defined regions. These studies provide an adequate information base for between-region comparisons. The individual states of the United States, constituting what can be regarded as well-developed regions, may serve as an expectation for all such comparisons. The distribution of the u.r.v. of total resources of the individual states is lognormal with a geometric mean of 54,954 1967 U.S. dollars per square kilometer. Based on the above assumption, this value can serve as a conservative estimate for the total output any region can be expected to produce. Thirty different mineral commodities are known to exist in Israel. Of these, 19 are economically exploited and the remaining 11 are at present uneconomical mineral occurrences. Past production records have been obtained and assembled for 14 of the exploited commodities. From these records, a number of statistics were computed to evaluate the development of the mineral industry of the country and its future potential. In absolute figures, the overall cumulative production has been rather small, amounting to only 1,679.8 million deflated 1967 U.S. dollars (equivalent to 2,082 million current U.S. dollars or 10,260 million current Israeli pounds). Only bromine, potash, and phosphate are of worldwide significance, amounting respectively to 10, 2.9, and 1 percent of the world production in 1977. Construction materials, with the longest production history, have been the most valuable, accounting for 53.6 percent of the total cumulative output. They are followed by nonmetals (34.7 percent),metals (8 percent)and fuels (3.7 percent).The value-ranking of individual commodities and their respective contribution to the total cumulative output is: cement, 35 percent; potash, 19 percent; stone, 15 percent; phosphate, 11 percent; copper, 8 percent; sand and gravel, 4 percent; bromine, 3 percent; petroleum, 2.5 percent; natural gas, 1 percent; periclase, 0.7 percent; salt, 0.4 percent; and glass sand, 0.2 percent. Total annual output for the period 1948–1977 exhibited a constant growth with no indication of approaching a plateau of diminishing returns. As new commodities became exploited, the share of constructional materials in the total output gradually declined from 100 percent in 1948 to 45 percent in 1977. The contribution of the mineral industry to the annual gross national product rose steadily from 0.55 percent in 1951 to 2.2 percent in 1964. Thereafter, it fluctuated around an average of about 1.8 percent. Total output and production of constructional materials correlate very highly with both gross national product (GNP)and population size. However, when only the annual changes in these variables are considered, the correlation coefficients are found to be insignificant. The u.r.v. of Israel (with an area of 20,700 sq kms and a population of 3,653,000)is 81,154 deflated 1967 U.S. dollars per sq km. It exceeds the expected value for well-developed regions. It can therefore be concluded that Israel is not exceptionally poor in natural resources, as is commonly felt. On the other hand, its high u.r.v. also implies (unfortunately)that the development potential of its mineral industry is rather limited. The u.r.v. estimates, which are based on area alone, can be refined to some degree by considering the geological characteristics of the investigated area. The geological composition of the country was quantified by point counting the geological map, using a grid network of 40.3 sq km cells. Each map unit was assigned to one of 65 standard time-petrographic units. This sampling density results in the recognition of 11 time-petrographic units (instead of 15, which are actually present).Based on linear statistical association between mineral resource diversity and geological diversity established for the states of the United States, Israel can be expected to possess 31 different commodities. Since only 19 have thus far been exploited, Israel can be expected to produce 12 additional commodities. The identity of these “missing” resources can be inferred by examining the inventory of commodities produced in other regions with a similar geological framework and by evaluating the potential of the 11 noneconomical mineral occurrences, which have already been discovered in the country. The geology of Israel was compared to 12 other regions; of these Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Sinai were found to be most similar to Israel, each having 8 or 9 time-petrographic rock types in common with Israel, 7 of which are identical. Based on these comparisons and on additional information from other sources, it appears that the commodities that are more likely to be produced in the foreseeable future include manganese, feldspar, uranium (from phosphates),lignite, oil shale, and iron. The mineral industry of Israel accomplished quite significant achievements in the course of its modern history of only 35 years. These resulted from concerted national exploration and development efforts, which were supported by massive governmental capital investments. The areal value method of mineral resources appraisal is based on a cybernetic “black box” system model in which the “degree of commitment” derived from the socioeconomic infrastructure is viewed as the driving agent in converting the inherited geological characteristics of the region into economic marketable mineral commodities. The case history of Israel provides a strong substantiation for this generalized system model.

Key words

resource appraisal areal value method Israel's mineral resources 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan Gill
    • 1
  • John C. Griffiths
    • 2
  1. 1.Geological Survey of IsraelJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Department of GeosciencesThe Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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