Sunday, November 08, 2009


EROEI and Ore Mining

The Market Oracle has a really fine article, “Peak Silver and Mining by a Falling EROI,” which applies the concept of EROEI (also called EROI) to ore mining. Readers are no doubt familiar with this way of measuring how much energy you get for the amount invested, and this article starts by reviewing it, then applying it to ore mining.

The energy cognoscenti will already have caught on: We exploit the low-hanging fruit first for ores as well as for energy, so that as time goes on, we have to keep expending more energy to get the same amount of end-use resource. Even if you are one of those who already “get it,” this article is chock full of charts and graphs that illustrate how grave the situation is, and therefore well worth a few minutes of your time.

Needless to say, the implications for industrial civilization are enormous. The saving grace with metals is that they can be recycled, which unfortunately does not hold true for fuels.

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