Sceptics of the resource curse hypothesis highlight that many currently rich countries, including the United States of America initially had abundant natural resources. Using new 16-country post-1870 annual data and controlling for international spill-over in knowledge, we demonstrate a robust negative land resource-productivity trade-off among major Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development economies. However, we find that abundance in mineral resources positively influenced productivity. Using insights from the new economic geography we argue that productivity-augmenting knowledge-related agglomeration effects are natural resource-specific and favoured mineral-rich countries. Copyright © 2009 The Economic Society of Australia.