Raw materials have played a major role since the beginning of human history. Not least, it was raw materials that made industrialization possible and ensured prosperity and wealth.
Even though climate change and environmental protection have entered people’s consciousness nowadays, the raw materials of our earth must not be forgotten. Many are irreplaceable and indispensable in a wide variety of industries and walks of life.
But even the stocks of important raw materials are not unlimited. If demand continues or even increases in the future, they will eventually run out. As a result, new challenges will face mankind and the importance of the individual groups of raw materials will shift to some extent in the future.
Earth Overshoot Day as an indicator
For years, the so-called Earth Overshoot Day has been determined once a year. This is the day of the year when the resources for one year are used up. As recently as 1971, this day still fell at the end of December – the annual resources were thus only slightly exceeded at that time.
In 2020, Earth Overshoot Day was already on August 22, and in 2021 it already fell on July 29. The consumption curve for raw materials in general is therefore pointing steeply upwards, while at the same time resources are becoming ever smaller.
The most important raw materials
The fact that raw materials are not available in unlimited quantities applies equally to all raw materials. Last but not least, this limited availability is one reason why commodities are valuable, have their price and are therefore of great interest to investors.
Even today, rare earths and precious metals are considered to be among the most important raw materials of all. They are indispensable for the electrical industry in particular and will continue to play an increasingly important role in the future.
In addition, ores, crude oil and coal are considered the central raw materials of all. However, there are also some raw materials that are also considered important today, but whose importance will increase enormously in the future.
Examples of raw materials that will become even more important in the future
Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth’s crust after oxygen and silicon. However, aluminum occurs only in bound form. So although aluminum is a common raw material, its resources are also finite.
In the future, aluminum will play an even more important role, as demand will increase in numerous industries and sectors.
The resources of the lightest metal in the world, lithium, amount to more than 70 million tons and are thus considerable. While lithium was initially only needed as a special metal for metal alloys, it has long since become a mass product since the development of lithium-ion batteries and above all thanks to electromobility.
Despite considerable resources, lithium will therefore continue to be of great importance in the future.