Addressing potential resource scarcity for boron mineral: A system dynamics perspective

Mermer C., ŞENGÜL H.

JOURNAL OF CLEANER PRODUCTION, vol.270, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 270
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2020.122192


Unlike some critical minerals that are expected to have imminent shortages of supply such as indium, for a relatively high number of minerals, there is great uncertainty regarding their remaining years of supply. Boron mineral is one of these minerals with controversial reserve and years of supply estimates in the literature. Recent development and pursuit of new boron-consuming technologies and alternative products to existing boron-consuming products introduce additional uncertainty to sustainability of boron mineral. There is a need to explore how boron mineral can meet future demand given its diffusion and use in primary boron-consuming sectors, determine how diffusion may change its price and intensity of exploration activities along with key growth parameters GDP and population, and explore whether it may become a critical resource at the global level or not. For this purpose, a model was constructed to determine how diffusion of products containing boron can change at the global scale and how long boron reserves can be used to meet the respective demand by capturing dynamics of the system and partial treatment of complexity. It was determined that boron mineral may move from its current class of no criticality to high criticality when fast diffusion scenario is realized. In the slow diffusion scenario, boron mineral meets the demand for the next one hundered years and its annual consumption increases from 1,800 kilotons of borate in 2017 to 12,200 kilotons in 2117. The price of boron mineral gradually decreases to the one third of its current price of 1,620 dollars per ton of borate as the reserve of boron has an increasing trend up to the year 2078. In the fast diffusion scenario, boron mineral is can not meet the demand as the reserve is depleted in 2061 and the boron price rises to 17,400 dollars per ton of borate with a decreasing trend after this threshold point. (C) 2020 Published by Elsevier Ltd.