Global distribution of material consumption: Nickel, copper, and iron

Kenichi Nakajima, Ichiro Daigo, Keisuke Nansai, Kazuyo Matsubae, Wataru Takayanagi, Makoto Tomita, Yasunari Matsuno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Economic growth and sometimes the use of green technologies have been associated with a rapid rise in the use of metals and minerals. In today's globalized economy, natural resource consumption influences environmental impacts far removed from the place of consumption. Knowledge about the flow of substances is fundamental to reducing natural resource consumption and controlling the material cycle. Economy-wide material flow analysis (MFA) is an excellent tool to quantify material balances in specific areas for resource and waste management. The goal of this study was to identify the worldwide material flow of nickel, copper, and iron in global trade among 231 countries and regions, and to examine the apparent consumption of the materials as a global systematic phenomenon. Here, apparent consumption means the mathematical sum of production plus imports minus exports, including products with high degrees of fabrication. The levels of apparent consumption of iron, copper, and nickel were 1.7 Pg, 20 Tg, and 2.1 Tg, respectively, in 2010, which represented increases by a factor of 2.1, 1.6, and 1.7, respectively, from 1995. These increases coincided with increasing demand for these materials in Asia. For example, the percentage of the apparent consumption of iron in Asia accounted for 41% of total worldwide consumption in 1995, but it rose to 64% in 2010. Similarly, the percentage of apparent consumption of copper and nickel in Asia reached 60% and 54%, respectively, in 2010.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-374
Number of pages6
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun


  • Apparent consumption
  • Asia
  • Global trade
  • Material flow analysis (MFA)
  • Mineral resource
  • Time series analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Economics and Econometrics


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