Taking that statement a little out of context... The system is rather streamlined, you mine, you use, you get. In context though...
It would naturally make sense to keep the resources we already have. The way population works (Read: Is going to work in 1.1,) wouldn't change, because population as a resource could be considered an extremely versatile resource.
For the distribution of Materials, there are lots of different ways you could do it in context with your statement.
First, you have the 'Architect' structure, and its appointed specialist. This building would allow the creation of certain higher-level buildings, and produce, (Possibly only assist,) in turning the materials into 'Building Materials.'
Then, we have the 'Hunting Lodge' structure and his specialist. This building would take Materials and turn them into basic 'Weapon Materials.' I.E., the stuff you need for Staves, Spears, Bows and the like. Basically, it would consist of making all of your low-tier gear.
Easy one for Metal is the Blacksmith. Could even divide that down into Armor smith and Weapon smith. The list goes on.
Edit: Wouldn't this heavily affect game-pacing though? On the movement side of things, it's already slow. Couldn't this potentially also do the same thing to City-Building and Army-building? I don't think it's a bad idea. Honestly, less simplification the better imo, but I can't help but worry.
With the new specialists system though, it seems like a great idea to help get those little buggers used up somehow.
EditEdit: You know what, scratch that. I'm remembering my current game where I've got like 4K Materials and can build 12-Unit Teams of guys in a single turn.