Tons per trinket

Small dumptruck graphicEvery 1 kg of gold in your hand required 540,000 kg of raw material input, more than 99 truckloads. There’s not enough coffee in the world to help me calculate how many buckets of materials were moved for a typical watch or wedding band.

Polyethylene only requires 5 pounds of resources per pound of end material. Copper needs 356 kg/kg, stainless steel 23 kg/kg. Virgin aluminum’s 66 kg/kg; recycled aluminum is just 1.2 pounds per pound.

WorldChanging has published a detailed article about resource utilization and how we rely on a basket of elements each day, Your Stuff: If It Isn’t Grown, It Must Be Mined. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) quoted these measurements showing that each American is using over 48,000 pounds of minerals each year:

* 12,428 lb. of stone
* 9,632 lb. of sand and gravel
* 940 lb. of cement
* 276 lb. of clays
* 400 lb. of salt
* 302 lb. phosphate rock
* 639 lb. of nonmetals
* 425 lb. of iron ore
* 77 lb. of bauxite (aluminum)
* 17 lb. of copper
* 11 lb. of lead
* 10 lb. of zinc
* 6 lb. of manganese
* .0285 T oz. gold
* 29 lb. of other metals, as well as,
* 7,667 lb. petroleum
* 7,589 lb. coal
* 6,866 natural gas
* 1/3 lb. uranium

If we’re near peak oil, what about minerals and ore?

Though necessarily crude, this timeline and article from NewScientist posted a (full version here) is an attempt to audit elements we need and their rate of use. A larger version of the graphic below is here.

Materials left on earth