6.3.1 Will a circular economy prevent us from running out of metals

Course subject(s) Module 6. Thinking in Systems

We mine a lot! So what are the chances of running out of our much-valued metals? And will a Circular Economy help prevent us from running out? Ester van der Voet of Leiden University provides us a refreshing perspective.

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  • It is unlikely that the world will run out of metals in the foreseeable future.
  • Metal supply can however become critical, for instance because of geopolitics.
  • One of the potential benefits of the circular economy is that we can start using our above ground urban mines, instead of geological mines. This ‘urban mining’ may be an important element of the circular economy.


Ester van der Voet refers to the Club of Rome  Limits to Growth report issued in 1972. An updated version of this report is publicly available here.

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Circular Economy by TU Delft OpenCourseWare is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://ocw.tudelft.nl/courses/circular-economy/.
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