Always at the cutting edge me. Only a century old this technology….
Always at the cutting edge me. Only a century old this technology….
You know that idea that on any subject you know about a newspaper story is always wrong?
Kenmare mines titanium dioxide, mainly ilmenite and zircon. The main use of these minerals is in white paints and ceramics.
Kenmare mines ilmenite and zircon. The two are commonly found together in these sorts of mineral sands deposits. Ilmenite is indeed the ore that we extract titanium dioxide from and zircon is where we get zirconia. But it ain’t true that titanium dioxide is mainly ilmenite and zircon…….
Talkin’ about conflict minerals:
Congo is a home to some of the largest reserves of gold, tin, timber, diamond, copper, cobalt, tungsten and tantalum – to name but a few – in Africa. The most lucrative of all is columbite-tantalite, better known as coltan: a dull metallic ore that stores electricity and makes our mobile phones vibrate.
Sigh. The tantalum comes from the columbo-tantalite (not columbite-tantalite) . Our writer here is showing that she’s not quite up with what is happening, isn’t she?
After a quarter of a century of service, Ark Royal – the fifth vessel to bear a name that dates back to victory over the Spanish Armada – will shortly be reduced to tin cans and razor blades.
You most certainly don\’t take a ship apart and then cut it into little bits for razor blades. And ships tend to be carbon steel, while razor blades are high chromium steel. So it\’s not even the same type of steel.
The chunks of the Ark Royal will be melted down and then, perhaps, maybe, that melt might have chrome added to it which then goes off to the specialist factories that make the strip suitable for making into razor blades. But it\’s a very, very, tenuous link.
The Church of England has begun legal action to claim ancient mineral rights beneath thousands of homes and farms, prompting fears the church could seek to cash in on fracking.
I do understand what they\’re doing in law. They\’ve got to assert those old Lord of the Manor rights or lose them. Fine.
But why should this relate to fracking? I thought mineral rights to oil and gas (maybe coal too, also gold and silver) belonged to the Crown, not the owner of the land?
The Cook Islands hopes to transform itself into one of the world\’s richest countries within a decade by sending robots to the sea floor to collect minerals that it believes are worth tens of billions of dollars.
A new geological survey by Imperial College marine geochemist David Cronan estimates that the Cook Islands\’ 2 million square kilometre exclusive economic zone contains 10bn tonnes of manganese nodules. The nodules, which vary from the size of a potato to that of a dining table, contain manganese, nickel, copper, cobalt and rare earth minerals used in electronics. The minerals will be mined using robots first developed for underwater warfare and espionage.
Not wholly convinced to be honest.
Manganese is a couple of thousand $ a tonne. And there\’s plenty of it about. The others, I don\’t know the concentrations but I believe that they\’re trace amounts.
It might work but it simply isn\’t true that having metal in rocks is valuable. It depends upon the processing costs to get the metals out of the rocks. And that\’s the bit I\’m unconvinced about.
Brewer Miller Coors last week told the US Senate that inflated aluminium prices were costing consumers $3bn (£2bn) a year, putting the focus on the stockpiles held by the Wall Street investment bank and the world’s largest commodity trading firm.
Together, the two firms are estimated to control two-thirds of the world’s stockpiles of aluminium, with Goldman Sachs holding 1.5m tons, while Glencore has 2m tons in its warehouses.
Aluminium prices have more than doubled in the past three years. At the same time, the amount stored in warehouses has hit a record 5.5m tons.
No, I don\’t know the details of this market. But something doesn\’t sound quite right about it.
Global annual production of aluminium metal is 45 million tonnes or so.
Yes, I know that prices work at the margin and all that. But I\’m deeply unconvinced that a stock of 10% of annual production is going to manipulate prices very much. I can imagine that it does indeed make a significant difference to who gets the profits from playing around with futures and spot prices. The speculators or the banks that own the warehouses. But I can\’t see how there\’ll be a significant link to general Al prices.
So, anyone got any bright ideas?
I\’d be very interested in getting a copy of this paper in .pdf via email if any one can?
The composition and environmental hazard of copper slags in the context of the Basel Convention
Blimey, that\’s fast! Ta v much to all who sent it!
About the idea that street dust is just packed with platinum. Which, in fact, it is, for a certain value of \”packed\”.
Question: is \”tosheroon\” a Sir Pterry coinage or is it a real word?
American families may soon be using waterless toilets and recycling their urine, according to new research.
Chemical engineers at the University of Florida have been looking at ways to extract phosphorus – a life-sustaining element – from urine, before it enters the sewage system and becomes diluted.
Since estimates suggest that phosphorous – which occurs as phosphate rocks and is mined for crop fertilizer – could be exhausted in the next 50 to 100 years, urine recycling may be the key to conserving the non-renewable resource in the future.
No, phosphorous is not going to run out in 50 to 100 years.
Today\’s phosphorous reserves are going to run out in the next couple of generations, that\’s true. It\’s also trivial: a useful definition of mineral reserves is the minerals that we\’ve prepared for everyone to use in the next generation or two.
The number that\’s important for running out of something is mineral resources, not reserves. I can never remember whether we have resources of phosphorous for 7,000 or 13,000 years (whichever it is the other is for potassium). And please do note: resources is not some pie in the sky number, some estimate of what we think might be out there. That is total availability, which for phosphorous is either 0.1% or 2.5% of the weight of the entire lithosphere (the other is potassium again). Resources are rocks we know where they are, have a pretty good idea of how much there is and guess that there\’s a reasonable chance we can mine them at today\’s prices, using today\’s technology and make a profit.
Resources are, in effect, what everyone thinks they\’re measuring when we talk about reserves: which is rock that we know, have proven, we know where it is, can mine at today\’s prices and today\’s technologies and make a profit doing so. The important difference being the \”proven\” and this is an extremely costly process, proving it. Because that \”proof\” is to the standards that a bank will lend you the money to go dig it up.
So the basic problem they\’re trying to solve is simply not extant.
Under lab conditions, the researchers were able to successfully extract about 97per cent of the phosphates in urine within five minutes.
They achieved the extraction with a scientific technique called ion-exchange using HAIX resin, which may form the basis of systems to be installed in U.S. homes in the future.
David Brown, chief executive of the Insistution of Chemical Engineers, said of the findings: \’Our attitude and whole approach to recycling will need to change as we come under increasing pressure to conserve valuable, non-renewable resources like Phosphorus.
\’The research is another great example of chemical engineers providing alternative approaches and solutions to the creation of more sustainable approaches to issues like waste water management and recycling.\’
And the method they\’re using is also redundant. For we already know how to remove the phosphorous at the sewage plant. Something you can imagine is easier: bulk operations normally are.
Think of it this way, a town of 50,000 souls. Perhaps 150,000 toilets in such a town (including offices etc). What\’s going to be easier? Altering all of these toilets to being \”urine only\” and collecting the phosphorous from them individually? Or sticking a machine in the sewage treatment plant?
Quite. It\’s a barking mad solution to a problem that doesn\’t actually exist.
The caption on this picture is:
\”An Alcoa Inc. employee changes the glowing hot carbon anode of an electrolytic cell at the company\’s Mt. Holly production plant in Goose Creek, South Carolina. \”
Erm, anodes line the electrolytic cell. Thy\’re not thick blocks like that.
That glowing bit is the sow of aluminium itself.
Just as a check: carbon that is hot enough to glow like that is what…..burning I think we call it?
Update: and guess what? It\’s me that has it wrong. There\’s a surprise, eh? Alcoa tweeted me to point out that I was wrong so clearly this blog is read is high places (says he, desperately trying to find something positive here).
A batch of metal-studded belts sold by online fashion retailer Asos have been hurriedly withdrawn from sale after they were found to be radioactive.
The peplum leather belts, which have a ruffle attached, could cause injury to the wearer if worn for more than 500 hours, according to an internal report by the retailer. They are being held in a radioactive storage facility after testing positive for Cobalt-60.
Oh dearie me:
It added: \”Unfortunately, this incident is quite a common occurrence. India and the far east are large consumers of scrap metal for their home and foreign markets. During the refining process of these metals, orphaned radioactive sources are sometimes accidentally melted at the same time. This in turn [contaminates the process] and traps the radioactivity in the metal as an alloy or in suspension.\”
It\’s not actually that common. It is a result of extremely bad handling of scrap back at the scrap mill that made the original brass though.
1) There shouldn\’t be any cobalt in brass at all. Cobalt is vastly more valuable than any of the ingredients of brass: so someone, somewhere, wasn\’t sorting material properly in this sense, taking the valuable stuff out of the less valuable.
2) C-60 is a radiation source for hospitals and food irradiation. There\’s no way at all that it should end up in the scrap chain. Vastly dangerous to anyone who tries to handle it: should be segregated and kept in the lead boxes. Whoever comes out to fill up the machine with fresh stuff should be taking the old away with them.
3) No one but an idiot doesn\’t check the radioactivity of incoming metal. Clearly someone didn\’t so there\’s an idiot running a scrap yard/furnace out there.
4) The reason is that having melted down some Co-60 in his furnace to make some brass his furnace is now contaminated. He\’s have to scrap it: for all subsequent melts will also be contaiminated.
5) It\’s a bit tough to blame the belt maker for this. Whoever fucked up it was long before anyone started thinking about belts.
Anyone who has seen pictures of the giant, red-hot cauldrons in which steel is made — fed by vast amounts of carbon, and belching flame and smoke — would not be surprised to learn that steelmaking is one of the world’s leading industrial sources of greenhouse gases. But remarkably, a new process developed by MIT researchers could change all that.
The new process even carries a couple of nice side benefits: The resulting steel should be of higher purity, and eventually, once the process is scaled up, cheaper. Donald Sadoway, the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT and senior author of a new paper describing the process, says this could be a significant “win, win, win” proposition.
Looks pretty fun.
Molten oxide electrolysis (MOE) is an electrometallurgical technique that enables the direct production of metal in the liquid state from oxide feedstock.
You certainly can do that: whether you want to or not becomes an economic question. And that\’s what they\’re working on, how to make it economic.
However, what ever so slightly grates is that steel is just the one product that you cannot make in a \”carbon free\” manner. You can make iron, most certainly, and that\’s what they\’re actually doing here. But you cannot make steel: for steel is an alloy of iron and carbon (or amalgam, mixture, if you prefer).
I know the researchers wouldn\’t really make that mistake but they might when describing matters colloquially. Or the PR guy perhaps.
I\’ve been trying to puzzle through what might have happened in that dreadful fire and explosion in Texas.
Of course, we all know that ammonium nitrate is highly explosive: people make bombs out of it. But it doesn\’t appear that the plant actually made or even stored that. It was a wholesaler for anhydrous ammonia. Which in itself isn\’t particularly an explosive danger.
So what happened?
Here\’s my best guess. There was a fire reported at the plant. Apparently it burned for an hour or so before the explosion. And here\’s the one thing you don\’t want to happen to anhydrous ammonia. That it be in a tank or enclosed space: and then it gets hot.
For it\’s NH3. And when it gets hot it becomes N2 plus H2……2NH3 becomes N2 + 3H2. And H2 is, as we know, highly explosive: that\’s what blew up the outer containment of the reactor at Fukushima.
On the very limited information we have at the moment that\’s my best guess. The fire warmed the storage tanks, disassociated (is that the right word?) the NH3 and thus there was a hydrogen explosion.
Diddy Cameron has a new enthusiasm.
Sponsored by the Government, a company called UK Seabed Resources has won the first commercial exploration rights over a 58,000 square-kilometre area of the Pacific, he announced. The licence was granted by the International Seabed Authority, the body governing mining outside territorial waters.
Late this summer, the company will start to hunt for those so-called polymetallic nodules, potato-sized rocks rich in minerals which are found on the seabed, some 4,000 metres under the Pacific waves. Also known as manganese nodules, they were first discovered in 1868, in the Arctic ocean, but are found on ocean floors around the world.
It\’s all very fascinating indeed. And there\’s certainly no problem at all with extraction of the metals from the minerals. However…..
I\’m always very hesitant about the \”energy\” argument. You know, sure, there\’s lots of metals around but the price will inevitably go up as lower grade ores require more energy to extract? Sorta peak oil meets mineral exhaustion, a favourite of certain greenies.
But I do think that it has some validity here. Manganese, the major component of these nodules, is around $3,000 a tonne at present (that\’s about right, if not exactly). And if you can get stuff up off the ocean floor through 4,000 metres of water for less than that then I\’d be astonished. Note that this isn\’t oil or gas coming up under its own pressure…..
Some of the South African gold mines are losing money simply because of this sort of equation. The ore down there is just fine but at 1 mile or more down the energy to get it to the surface makes the whole process uneconomic.
Most unconvinced that this will ever be economic. Quite apart from anything else there\’s so much stuff already available on land…..
I was really rather surprised to see this story making the front page of Bloomberg:
South Korea, the world’s biggest maker of consumer-electronics memory chips, is leading the first geological study of Colombia’s rare metals as it seeks to secure supplies for Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) and LG Corp. (003550)
State-run Korean Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources is exploring for coltan, the ore that contains tantalum, in the Amazon rain forest of Colombia’s Vichada and Guainia departments, project geologist Jin Kwang Min said.
The reason for my surprise?
The study started last year under the auspices of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Lee Myung Bak, South Korea’s leader at the time. It covers 500 square kilometers (193 square miles) and has an initial cost of $50,000, Alexandra Orjuela, a spokeswoman for Santos’ office, said in e-mailed comments March 5. President Park Geun Hye succeeded Lee in February.
In this sort of exploration $50k buys you two men in a boat for a month or two. It\’s simply an entirely trivial amount: which is why I thought it odd that Bloomberg reported on it.
There is undoubtedly \”coltan\” (should be \”columbo tantalite\” really) there for:
Colombia has no official coltan deposits and so far production has come mainly from sifting Amazon tributaries. Sales doubled from a year earlier to $20.4 million in 2012, according the national statistics office. Brazil is South America’s largest producer.
If you\’ve got alluvial deposits in the mud at the bottom of the river (they\’ll be on bends and curves where the differential speed of the water separates heavier and lighter fractions of the sand/mud) then there must indeed be hard rock deposits upstream that they have been weathered out of. And $20 million\’s actually a respectable sum in the tantalum market. it\’s getting into single digit percentages of the entire global market for the material. That motherlode that produces those alluvial deposits could be substantial.
It could, of course, also work the other way. Various granites can contain tantalum: but you\’d never bother to go hard rock mining for it. There\’s just not enough Ta there to make grinding up the rock worthwhile. But if the weather\’s already done this for you then……which might be why they\’ve only spend $50k so far.
Fun fact: if you wanted to replace Congo\’s supplies of \”coltan\” you could do it quite easily from the mud and slurry left over from the Cornish China Clay industry. Unfortunately it would cost many multiples of the DRC material which is why we do indeed use said DRC material.
Today it\’s all about blood minerals.
There are dozens of issues, such as starvation wages, bullying, abuse and 60-hour weeks in the sweatshops manufacturing them, the debt bondage into which some of the workers are pressed, the energy used, the hazardous waste produced. But I will concentrate on just one: are the components soaked in the blood of people from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo? For 17 years, rival armies and militias have been fighting over the region\’s minerals. Among them are metals critical to the manufacture of electronic gadgets, without which no smartphone would exist: tantalum, tungsten, tin and gold.
And the thing is this is a problem that is largely solved. No, not through Dodd Frank either, but through the industry itself. Here.
Sorry, to say that it is \”solved\” is too extreme. We\’ve already put in motion all the things that need to be put into motion to solve it. It\’s a complex problem that takes some time to deal with. But all those things are being done.
It\’s been years since you could sell tantalum containing materials to processors without proving that it did not come from conflict areas in hte DRC. To anyone other than the Chinese processors that is. Cabot, Starck etc simply won\’t purchase without the necessary proof of sourcing. Tungsten and tin are very similar. You can\’t just rock up with some ore these days. Gold is its own problem as there are just so many ways that you can introduce material into the recycling chain that it\’s quite simply a problem that never will get solved.
My point being that the best that can be done is already being done.
I\’d be interested to hear what he says about resource availability.
I know he mentions it but does he only go with oil and fracking? Or does he talk about metals and minerals as well?
So, a leetle report from the front lines of the business world. As you all know I\’m working on \’untin slags in the \’ore mountains.
A likely path through the thickets has been planned. But we\’re facing an odd little problem.
Through the various alliances we\’ve made we can work up to a certain scale without having to worry overmuch about environmental licensing. We\’re going to obey all of the laws, of course. Things like dumping into water runoff and all that: no, we know that poisoning Dresden is not the way to win friends and influence people.
So it\’s not the regulations that are the problem: this is what is. Once we get past lab/pilot plant size we\’ve then got to file vast, voluminous, plans about what we intend to do next. OK. But it takes 18 months for such plans to be \”considered\”. No, don\’t know why, it just does. Same in Germany, the UK or the Czech Republic.
And of course once we\’ve proven our process at that lab/pilot plant scale we\’d want (well, may well want to) scale it up immediately. From processing a few hundred kg a day to a few tonnes a day.
There\’s no other factory that we can take on as the processor either: no one else actually does our process. So any/everyone would face the same problem.
So, is there some country that one can actually work in (ie, not Russia or Burma etc) where there isn\’t this bureaucracy caused 18 month gap? Anyone with any bright ideas?
Anyone know anything about North Africa? Ukraine? Western Ukraine would be good actually: possibly using some small part of an extant chemicals plant.
Essentially, somewhere that\’s civilisation but without the cunts from Brussels?