Nonrenewable Resources

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 226–246 | Cite as

Phosphate rock demand into the next century: Impact on wolld food supply

  • James R. Herring
  • Richard J. Fantel
Articles

Abstract

A vital and indisputable link exists between phosphate rock and world food supply. Phosphate rock is the source of phosphorus used to make phosphatic fertilizers, essential for growing the food needed by humans in the world today and in the future. We modeled the depletion of the known reserves and reserve base (which includes reserves) of phosphate rock based on various scenarios for increasing population and future demand for phosphate. Using these scenarios, the presently known reserves will be depleted within about 50 years, and the remainder of the reserve base will be depleted within the next 100 years. For this model, we used rates of growth of demand for phosphate rock of between 1 and 1.7 percent annually. We also examined demand rates that decrease over time toward demand stasis. Growthrate scenarios that stabilize demand at the year 2100 are little different from unconstrained growth. Demand stabilization by 2025 extends the reserve base by only about 50 years. Additional considerations could affect these depletion scenarios, causing them to be substantially too high or too low. Nonetheless, the incluctable conclusion in a world of continuing phosphate demand is that society, to extend phosphate rock reserves and reserve base beyond the approximate 100 year depletion date, must find additional reserves and/ or reduce the rate of growth of phosphate demand in the future. Society must: 91) increase the efficiency of use of known resources of easily minable phosphate rock; (2) discover new, economically-minable resources; or (3) develop the technology to economically mine the vast but currently uneconomic resources of phosphate rock that exist in the world. Otherwise, the future availability of present-cost phosphate, and the cost or availability of world food will be compromised, perhaps substantially.

Key words

Phosphate rock resources Phosphate rock reserves Phosphate rock depletion Resource depletion models Phosphate rock demand 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Cathcart, J.B., 1980, World phosphate reserves and resources,in Khasawneh, F.E., Sample, E.C., and Kamprath, E.J., eds., The role of phosphorus in agriculture: Madison, Wisconsin, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science of America, and Soil Science Society of America, p. 1–18.Google Scholar
  2. —, 1991, Phosphate deposits of the United States-Discovery, development; Economic geology and outlook for the future: The geology of North America, v. P-2, Economic Geology: Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado, p. 153–164.Google Scholar
  3. Cathcart, J.B., Sheldon, R.P., and Gulbrandsen, R.A., 1984. Phosphate-rock resources of the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 888, 48 p.Google Scholar
  4. Emigh, G.D., 1972, World phosphate reserves-Are there really enough? Engineering and Mining Journal, v. 173(4), p. 90–95.Google Scholar
  5. —, 1983. Phosphate rock,in Lefond, S.J., ed., Industrial minerals and rocks: New York, American Institute of Mining Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers, Inc., p. 1017–1047.Google Scholar
  6. Fantel, R.J., Anstett, T.F., Peterson, G.R., Porter, K.E., and Sullivan, D.E., 1984, Phosphate rock availability—World: U.S. Bureau of Mines Information Circular 8989, 65 p.Google Scholar
  7. Fantel, R.J., Hurdelbrink, R.J., Shields, D.J., and Johnson, R.L., 1988, Phosphate availability and supply: U.S. Bureau of Mines Information Circular 9187, 70 p.Google Scholar
  8. Fantel, R.J., Sullivan, D.E., and Peterson, G.R., 1983, Phosphate rock availability-Domestic: U.S. Bureau of Mines Information Circular 8937, 57 p.Google Scholar
  9. Harben, P.W., and Bates, R.L., 1990, Industrial minerals, geology and world deposits: London, Industrial Minerals Division, Metal Bulletin Plc, p. 190–204.Google Scholar
  10. Harre, E.A., and Isherwood, K.F., 1980, World phosphate fertilizer supply-demand outlook,in Khasawneh, F.E., Sample, E.C., and Kamprath, E.J., eds., The role of phosphorus in agriculture: Madison, Wisconsin, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America, p. 227–239.Google Scholar
  11. Herring, J.R., manheim, F.T., Farrell, K., Huddlestun, P., and Bretz, B., 1991, Size analysis, visual estimation of phosphate and other minerals and preliminary estimation of recoverable phosphate in size fractions of sediment samples from drill holes GAT-90, Tybee Island, and GAS-90-2, Skidaway Island, Georgia: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 91–586, 35 p.Google Scholar
  12. Herring, J.R., Popenoe, P., Manheim, F.T., and Huddlestun, P.F., 1991, Phosphatic Miocene sediments of the Georgia continental shelf-Important resources for the future. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 23, p. 438.Google Scholar
  13. Herring, J.R., and Stowasser, W.F., 1991, Phosphate-Our Nation's most important agricultural mineral commodity and its uncertain future: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 23, p. 299–300.Google Scholar
  14. Herring, J.R., and Jacobsen, L.V., in press, Perspective on phosphite-Occurrence, resources, production, and use of our most important agricultural commodity: U.S. Geological Survey Circular.Google Scholar
  15. Krauss, U.H., Saam, H.G., and Schmidt, H.W., 1984, International strategic minerals inventory summary report-Phosphate: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 930-C, 41 p.Google Scholar
  16. Manheim, F.T., Huddleston, P.F., Herring, J.R., and Popenoe, P., 1991, Primary phosphorite beneath the Shelf along the Atlantic margin of the U.S.-Temperal extension of the middle Tertiary phosphogenic system into post-Miocene time: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 23, p. 438.Google Scholar
  17. Meadows, D.H., Meadows, D.L., and Randers, J., 1992, Beyond the limits-Confronting global collapse, envisioning a sustainable future: Post Mills, Vt., Chelsea Green Publishing Co., 300 p.Google Scholar
  18. Russell, A., 1987, Phosphate rock-Trends in processing and production: Industrial Minerals, n. 204, p. 25–59.Google Scholar
  19. Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, 1989, Annual Report 1988–1989, 90 p.Google Scholar
  20. Schmidheiny, S., 1992, Changing course, a global perspective on development and the environment: Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 374 p.Google Scholar
  21. Shacklette, H.T., 1977, Major nutritional elements in soils and plants-A balance sheet,in Raup, O.B., ed., Proceedings of the geology and food conference, with related U.S. Geological Survey projects and a bibliography: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 768, p. 17–19.Google Scholar
  22. Stowasser, W.F., 1990, Phosphate rock, Annual report,in Minerals yearbook: U.S. Bureau of Mines, 20 p.Google Scholar
  23. —, 1991, Phosphate rock-Analysis of the phosphate rock situation in the United States, 1990–2040: Engineering and Mining Journal, v. 192 (9), p. 16cc-16ii and v. 192 (10), p. 16aa–16hh.Google Scholar
  24. Urbanchuk, J.M., 1990, The value of crop protection chemicals and fertilizers to American agriculture and the consumer: Washington, D.C., GRC Economics, 46 p.Google Scholar
  25. U.S. Bureau of Mines, 1991: Mineral Commodity Summaries, 196 p.Google Scholar
  26. U.S. Bureau of Mines, 1992: Mineral Commodity Summaries, 204 p.Google Scholar
  27. U.S. Bureau of Mines and U.S. Geological Survey, 1980, Sedimentary phosphate resource classification system of the U.S. Bureau of Mines and the U.S. Geological Survey: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 882, 9 p.Google Scholar
  28. Wells, F.J., 1975, The long-run availability of phosphorus-A case study in mineral resource analysis-Resources for the future: Baltimore, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 121 p.Google Scholar
  29. Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, 1988, World demand for fertilizer nutrients in agriculture: U.S. Bureau of Mines Open-File Report 24–88, 38 p.Google Scholar
  30. Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, 1992, World, demand for fertilizer nutrients in agriculture: U.S. Bureau of Mines, 53 p.Google Scholar
  31. World Resources Institute, 1990, World resources 1990–1991: New York, Oxford University Press, 383 p.Google Scholar
  32. —, 1990, World resources 1992–1993, A guide to the global environment: New York, Oxford University Press, 385 p.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Oxford University Press 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • James R. Herring
    • 1
  • Richard J. Fantel
    • 2
  1. 1.U.S. Geological Survey, MS 939DenverUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Bureau of MinesMinerals Availability Field OfficeDenverUSA

Personalised recommendations