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Mineral Deposits and Their Global Strategic Supply

December's Shell London lecture, delivered by Andrew Mackenzie (BHP Billiton) at the Geological Society on 14 December 2011.

The World will not run out of the natural resources required to grow sustainably, and to remove more and more people from poverty in the foreseeable future. The Earth has adequate supplies of the raw materials for steel-making, fertilizers, aluminium, energy and plastics to secure rising living standards for generations-to-come, provide an effective and economically-viable response to climate change and, deliver fresh water to a growing population.

To ensure these natural resources are harnessed for world growth we require increased geological knowledge of the Earth, extension of the current trends in the technologies of extraction and purification, the removal of trade barriers, increased democracy and economic transparency.

The lecture will illustrate these points by describing the availability and location of the Earth’s key resources such as iron ore, coal, metals for alloys, potash, phosphates, copper, bauxite, oil, gas, uranium and fresh water; the advances in resource transportation, demand, recycling and technology; and the opportunities for affordable substitution between materials and their more efficient use. The lecture will also describe the approaches to extraction that will increasingly reduce the impacts to the natural environment.


Andrew Mackenzie


Andrew Mackenzie is currently the Chief Executive of Non Ferrous Materials at BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company with a significant oil and gas production arm, and a non-executive director of Centrica, the operator of British Gas. Before joining BHP Billiton in 2008, Andrew worked for Rio Tinto from 2004 to 2008, as Product Group Head for industrial minerals and latterly diamonds. Before 2004, Andrew spent 22 years at BP in many roles including Chief Reservoir Engineer, Group Vice President of Technology and latterly Petrochemicals in the Americas. In his early career, Andrew received several awards for his contributions to the science of oil and gas exploration. He has a BSc in Geology from St Andrews and a PhD in Organic Chemistry and an Honorary DSc from Bristol.