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Mineral Resources and Economic Development

Feb 2004
Stanford King Center on Global Development Working Paper
By  Gavin Wright, Jesse Czelusta

Recent studies assert that natural resource abundance (particularly minerals) has adverse consequences for economic growth. This paper subjects this “resource curse” hypothesis to critical scrutiny. Our central point is that it is inappropriate to equate development of mineral resources with terms such as “windfalls” and “booms.” Contrary to the view of mineral production as mere depletion of a fixed natural “endowment,” so-called “nonrenewable” resources have been progressively extended through exploration, technological progress, and advances in appropriate (often country-specific) knowledge. Indeed, minerals constitute a high-tech knowledge industry in many countries. Investment in such knowledge should be seen as a legitimate component of a forward-looking economic development program.