The developed countries depend on a stable supply of raw materials for their industries. Over the last decade this has been threatened by inadequate investment in the production of raw materials. Unstable supplies result in inflationary pressures in the developed market economies, setting off a spiral from which no one escapes. In such a situation it is in the interests of developed countries to ensure stability of prices and supplies.
Total resource requirements are increasing rapidly over the entire world. In developed countries, although population is increasing slowly, per capita use is increasing rapidly, while the opposite is happening in developing countries. Traditionally, raw materials have been classified as non-renewable resources, but a distinction may be important between 'losable' resources, such as oil and coal, and 'non-losable' resources, such as metals, which can be used several times over by recycling processes.
Any statement regarding the availability of raw materials for future generations should take into consideration that exploitation of raw materials is dependent on the state of technical knowledge, which is not a constant. Thus, with the improvement of technological capability, man has been able to utilize lower concentrations and mine an increasing number of regions of the world.