Friday, May 31, 2013

Eight Reports on Global Material Shortages

Eight reports with substantive data, information, and analysis on the state of global material shortages are identified below.  These reports were found during an exhaustive Internet search.

The reports are associated with what I judge to be authoritative institutions and authors.  The reports, in my opinion, represent very thorough research and analysis. The resources behind these reports are substantial.  If the resources were used in preparation of the reports, then collectively, the reports likely represent correct facts and views related to global material shortages as of the dates of the reports.   The reports are from: three organizations that represent governments (United States; United Kingdom, and European Union); one from a university (Germany); one from professional associations (United States); and three from consulting groups (the Netherlands; United States).

1.  A December 2011 US Department of Energy report (click here to read report; PDF file) identifies raw materials with potential supply risks.  The focus is on materials important in clean energy technologies, but many of the materials are important in several industries.  The report identifies strategies for addressing the potential risks.

2.  A March 2012 report from the UK Department for Business Innovation & Skills and the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (click here; PDF file) was prepared because of concerns about the availability of raw materials.  The report provides an analysis of the various impacts of raw material shortages.

3.  A February 2011 European Commission report (click here; PDF file) identifies 14 raw materials that the authors consider critical to the European Union and which also have supply shortage risks.  The report makes suggestions for responses to material supply shortage risks.

4.  A 2011 University of Augsburg report (click here; PDF file) identifies 19 materials critical to the energy industry and which also have potential supply risks.  Each material is discussed with respect to its use in the energy industry and the potential supply risks.

5.  A November 2009 report from the Dutch Materials Innovation Institute and Corus Research, Development, and Technology (click here; PDF file) discusses expected material shortages.  The report provides analysis of the present situations with respect to material shortages, the potential impact, and solutions.

6.  A 2010/2011 report (click here; PDF file) from the American Physical Society and the Material Research Society makes recommendations on what the United States Government should do to insure the supply of energy-critical materials, which are identified.

7.  An August 2011 report (click here; PDF file) from Skyworks Solutions, Inc. provides a summary of several studies that addressed raw material scarcity.  The summary provides historical data and the various perspectives and assumptions that are used in conclusions made on raw material scarcity.

8.  A December 2011 report provides the results of a 2011 survey conducted by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (click here; PDF file).  Sixty-nine senior executives of manufacturing companies answered questions on the impacts, opportunities, and risks to their companies from material shortages.

These 8 reports likely represent as correct a recent assessment of global material shortages as is available on the Internet.  And, as such, the reports are a valuable resource for those seeking knowledge in this area.

A conclusion I reached from reading the reports is that several variables affect supplies, prices, and other aspects of material availability.  And, these variables change over time.  Therefore, it is very difficult to estimate future market availability of many materials.  Market availability does not equate to amounts of the materials available in the earth.  For amounts present in the earth, the materials will be available for long periods, at today’s annual usage rates.  Nevertheless, shortages can exist in market availability based on the many variables that influence market availability. And, these market availability levels change over time.

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