With reports emerging this week that more than a quarter of the Earth's copper and nearly as much of its zinc have already been mined and lost to mankind, eyes have been cast back to recent forecasts on the short supply of an even more precious metal.
Canadian gold mining firm, Barrick, has claimed that world gold supplies were dwindling faster than imagined, with the precious metal expert's forecast holidng huge implications for the price of gold.
Barrick claimed that it was getting increasingly difficult to extract gold from deeper and older mines, despite the added incentives of selling the metal at the spiralling prices seen since August.
Barrick chief executive Greg Wilkins told an RBC Capital Markets conference in London: "Global mine supply is going to fall at a much faster rate than people generally believe.
"Many of the mines that people are anticipating bringing into production will either not come into production or will be on a much longer timeframe.''
A shortage of gold would mean even higher prices for the existing bullion being traded on global markets, especially while commercial demand for the metal in emerging Asian markets continues to soar.