The natural resource potential of the world and of a single country has a significant impact on the economy. For example, vast land areas, access to two non-freezing oceans (this is important for the development of foreign trade), a favorable climate, fertile soils, and large reserves of various mineral resources in many ways ensured the transformation of the United States into one of the leading countries. The presence of huge oil reserves has become a reason for the prosperity of a number of Middle East states. The volume of natural resources in different regions of the globe and at different stages of the development of the world economy varies, but with the growth of the world economy, the demand for them expands.
Since the mid-1970s, when fuel and various types of mineral raw materials rose in price sharply, many countries started to develop resource-saving technologies, the use of which reduced the relative need for raw materials. Nevertheless, the bulk of mineral resources and fuel are consumed in developed countries, which have only 40% of their reserves. Only the United States, producing a little more than 20% of the world's GDP, spends about 40% of all raw materials consumed in the world.
The Most Important Natural Resources
Mineral resources are used in the national economy as sources of raw materials and energy; they are the main source of material production of the society. World reserves of mineral fuels are large. It is believed that with the current level of consumption, geological reserves will last for about a thousand years. At the same time, the volume of human consumption of natural resources is increasing annually by 5%.
About 200 types of mineral raw materials are used in the modern economy. The most important one is oil. Geological reserves of oil are estimated at 270–300 billion tons. Most of the oil reserves are located in six regions of the world, with the largest reserves in Asia, including the Middle East.
Coal is used both as a fuel and as a raw material in the metallurgical and chemical industries. Before World War II, coal was the main energy resource, but the post-war development of automobile and aircraft building and thermal power plants brought oil to the first place in the energy balance of industrialized countries. It is more convenient for use and has a higher calorific value.
Natural gas is also among the most valuable types of energy resources. In recent decades, despite intensive gas production, its reserves have increased almost 1.5 times due to the geological exploration and the transfer of geological reserves to the category of explored. Among metal ores, iron ore reserves are of the greatest importance for the metallurgical industry. They are also very abundant. According to calculations, they should be enough for about 250 years. The largest deposits are concentrated in Brazil, Australia, Canada, China, the USA, India, and Sweden. Iron ore production exceeds 1 billion tons per year.