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This programme looks at some basic concepts in the understanding of resources and reserves such as the nature of exponential growth, producer and consumer countries, the highly industrialised, rich... nations and the underdeveloped poor, international politics, cartels, and the move towards large scale open pit mining of leaner ores. John Wright, Reader in Earth Sciences at the Open University, uses copper as a peg on which to hang these ideas, but the programme is not only about copper; it could just as well be any other scarce resource. Any discussion of resources raises more questions than it answers. When will copper run out? And what happens then? What assumptions underlie the calculations of lifetimes? Is there ultimately a limit to growth?
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Item code: S26-; 01; 1975
First transmission date: 02-02-1974
Published: 1975
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:29
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Producer: David Jackson
Contributors: Stephen Drury; Kingsley Dunham; Ian Gass; Peter Kent; Gordon Craig; Duncan Poore
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Cartels; Coal mining; Exponential growth; Finite resources; Producer/consumer countries
Subject terms: Copper; Developing countries--Environmental conditions
Footage description: Wright introduces the programme. He reviews briefly, the history of copper technology showing some ancient bronze weapons and tools. Shots of a modern ship screw being manufactured and of copper wire being spun. Wright with a histogram showing mined production of copper from 1900-1973. The histogram indicates an exponential growth for this period, with production doubling every 20 years. Wright, in the studio, shows a lump of pure copper then a lump of ore rich in copper sulfide. Still shot of a Cornish copper mine being worked circa 1900. Shot of ore lean in copper sulfide. Film shots of lean copper ore being mined in southern Africa. Commentary by Wright explains how these mines are operated economically. A map of the world is used by Wright to point out where copper is mined and the amounts mined. Another map of the world is used to show the copper producing and major copper consuming countries. Shots of Dar es Salaam showing copper being loaded on ships. Wright uses a graph to show the relationship between consuming and producing countries. The graph shows per capita copper use and GNP for each country. Wright discusses the implications of the above relationships for international relations. The case of Zambia is used as an example. Shots of Zarabian rail, road and air links with the outside world. Wright examines copper reserves on a global basis. He gives a figure for average copper content in the earth's crust and then explains why much of it will never be economically accessible. Wright explains how practical reserves can be determined. He uses a model of a copper mine as an aid and then gives a figure for total world reserves of copper. He points out how potential reserves may change this picture and how economic demand, or lack of it, can determine the lifetime of reserves.
Master spool number: 6HT/71615
Production number: 00525_1012
Videofinder number: 742
Available to public: no