Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 187–206 | Cite as

Thermodynamic implications for natural resource extraction and technical change in U.S. copper mining

  • Matthias Ruth


Motivated by the lack of integrated approaches that do justice to both the thermodynamic and economic aspects of natural resource use and the lack of empirical studies combining the two disciplines, this paper provides an integrated framework for the valuation of technologies, substitution and technical change. The paper determines empirically the relationships between thermodynamic states of materials and the use of high-quality energy sources for the case of copper mining in the United States. The empirical analysis provides the basis for a nonlinear dynamic simulation of optimal resource extraction and endogenous technical change in the light of changing resource quality. The study assesses the potential for future improvements in U.S. copper mining.

Key words

Endogenous technical change thermodynamic limits substitution optimal resource extraction copper mining 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Ruth
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, and Department of GeographyBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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