Mineral Models

Labys, Walter C. ; Clark, Joel ; Field, Frank R. ; Vogely, William A.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 43
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1985
Mineral models provide a systematic and comprehensive approach for analyzing and fore- casting the behavior of mineral markets and industries.' They also permit the analysis of a wide range of policy decisions. Obviously such models cannot capture all of the intricate relationships that shape the behavior of a mineral market. However, such models have become extremely useful and in many cases support the decision making approach of judgmental analysts. They tend to narrow the range of likely outcomes and thus reduce the risks and uncertainties of investing, trading, and speculating in minerals. Mineral models provide not only answers to "what-if" questions, they also inform analysts of the benefits and costs associated with mineral investment decisions. More recently they have been applied to specific mineral issues of the possible impact of buffer stock stabilization schemes and of import supply restrictions. Mineral Models Defined Because mineral models are so diverse, we must begin with a fairly broad definition. A mineral model is a formal representation of a mineral market, industry or system where the behavioral relationships included reflect the underlying economic and engineering factors as well as the political and social institutions. Of ten, but not always, a mineral model will consist of some combination of the following components: demand, supply, inventories and prices. Modeling of demand behavior normally begins with an interpretation of basic demand responses to prices and income (i.e., the associated price and income elasticities). Price elasticities vary among different minerals and among their diverse uses. They tend to be lower for minerals without close substitutes than for those where such substitutes exist. In addition, these elasticities vary with time as well as with the actual excess demand or excess supply. Variations like these, coupled with the relative instability of prices for a number of minerals, make explanations of demand behavior difficult. The degree to which demand responds to changes in income depends on the income elasticity of the end products to which the minerals serve as inputs. Those products with a relatively low income elasticity tend to experience proportionally smaller swings in sales than those with higher elasticities. The transmission of demand cycles to minerals producers comes through a series of stage-of-process effects. Demand measurement also is influenced considerably by mineral substitution patterns. The cross-price elasticity of a competitive or complementary commodity also varies with minerals, markets, and time. Where minerals easily substitute for one another, as in the case of cop- per and aluminum in electrical conductor applications, cross-price elasticities are relatively high. Modeling of mineral supply behavior normally involves consideration of resource development, economic conditions, geologic
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