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Ignorant tosspottery

As a miner for 40 years I have worked in various mines around the world. Gold, platinum, copper, coal, lead, zinc, oil and salt. I’m going to tell you something, and here it is. We will destroy the earth in the name of “Green Energy” Follow along and I will explain.
MiningWatch Canada is estimating that “[Three] billion tons of mined metals and minerals will be needed to power the energy transition” – a “massive” increase especially for six critical minerals: lithium, graphite, copper, cobalt, nickel and rare earth minerals

And we’ll mine so much that it will destroy everything, blah, blah.


18,740 pounds of purified rock to produce 2.2 pounds of vanadium
35,275 pounds of ore for 2.2 pounds of cerium
110,230 pounds of rock for 2.2 pounds of gallium
2,645,550 pounds of ore to get 2.2 pounds of lutecium

Vanadium is often – even usually – extracted as a part of iron ore. A major source is actually from wastes from a blast furnace. We don’t go mining for it.

Cerium and lutetium come from the same ore. All the rare earths do. So at best that’s double counting.

No one, ever, goes mining for gallium. We go mining for alumina, from bauxite. During that process, in a Bayer Plant, the Ga comes into solution and we extract it then. If we don’t extract the Ga then it’s still there, and we’ll still process for the alumina. The amount of rock processed to get gallium is zero. Absolutely nothing.

By 2035, demand is expected to double for germanium

Comes either from spharelite – which we process for zinc. We never process just for the Ge, only on top of the Zn. So, as with Ga, zero rock processed for Ge – or coal fly ash. Which we get from a power station and so the amount used to get Ge is zero.

Then the ore must be processed, creating an enormous quantity of waste – about 100 billion tonnes a year, more than any other human-made waste stream.

And, of course, the biggie.

The lithosphere would weigh about 1.5×10^24 Newtons

Earth’s a big place. Even if we believed his numbers it’s trivial.

Man’s an idiot.

18 thoughts on “Ignorant tosspottery”

  1. Instead of using by products of other processes, in the future are we going to have to mine and process rocks specifically for these metals, because the demand will be so much greater ?

    Does that mean we will be forced to calculate that out of x tons of rock we get y ounces of ( insert metal here ) ? Whereas at the moment we do not.

  2. You mean by the time we run out of iron ore, aluminium ore, zinc ore, and copper ore, and…, Otto?

    Will be a while. Quite a while.

  3. @Otto

    We’ll never go mining for these metals. They’re used because it’s relatively cheap to get them as a by-product of other processes. Somewhere on the order of $100m for the doohickey that gets bolted onto the side of an existing processing plant plus a fairly trivial amount of energy.

    If we ever get to the point where demand exceeds what is available a by-product of other processes, the marginal price of extra means that we’ll find something else that does the same job. Mebbe not quite as well, but much much cheaper than going mining (unless in some cases “mining” means processing old slag heaps). I know they’re not talking about Li here, but when looking at grid-scale stationary batteries energy- and power density are not important; most systems have now switched from Li-NiMnCo to the much cheaper Li-FePO4, because we don’t really care how much space they take up or how much they weigh or a given output. By the end of the decade we’ll be using Na batteries which will have an even worse energy/power density but will be cheaper still… unless we’ve come up with better ways of getting hold of Li, which is far from impossible.

  4. Ignorant tosspottery? Doubtful. He’s probably just lying. He knows what you’ve just written.
    So we should be giving him a round of applause for creative lying, not criticising him.
    It’s a standard Green tactic. Lie through their teeth to make their case. So lying to counter it’s sensible strategy.

  5. I dunno that he’s lying. Acquiring knowledge is hard. Hence the current fashion for feelz.
    So could be ignorant tosspottery. But the main point that it’s a load of smellystuff is still valid.
    So the response is unchanged.

    Tell the writer to go forth and multiply…

  6. @Grist
    I read the piece as being an attack on Greenery, not supporting it. So he’s using green tactics – basically lying to prove their case – against them. I’d be fully in favour of doing that.
    I don’t subscribe to this public schoolboy – cricket & rugby rules – way of debating. You want to win, there are no rules. Punch below the belt.

  7. 2.2pounds? Oh, he means per kilogram. Why not just change the units instead of multiplying everything by 2.2? 50105kg of rock for 1kg of gallium is identical to 50105 pounds of rock for 1 pound of gallium.

  8. What does an oil mine look like and is it the result of millions of years of olives being compressed?

  9. I don’t know where Tim got his Newtons from. It’s not in the article.
    I do very much like the 1.5×10^24 though. There is nothing that fucks an arts graduate over more than numbers.

  10. @ANNRQ
    If that’s where he’s got it from, he’s technically correct. Weight is a measurement of force not mass. Mass is independent of the gravity well it’s sitting in. Weight depends on the force of gravity acting on the thing weighed.

  11. “And since when was a Newton a measurement of weight?? It’s a unit of force, ffs.”

    Since it’s a unit of force then you can use it as a unit of “weight” if you are happy to invite confusion. What you shouldn’t do is use it as a unit of mass. You might wonder whether this chap really has been a miner for forty years if he’s not learnt when to distinguish weight from mass.

    I go further: there’s something about his opening sentence that screams “liar” to me.

    “As a miner for 40 years I have worked in various mines around the world. Gold, platinum, copper, coal, lead, zinc, oil and salt.”

    Oh aye? Could be, but it doesn’t ring true.

  12. And since all the other units mentioned are pounds – a measurement of weight/force not mass – he’s sticking with the paradigm.
    Although since the mass of the lithosphere contributes to the earth’s gravity well, there are bootlaces involved as well.

  13. The lithosphere is a pretty thin crust in Earth dimension terms so it’s not going to contribute much to the gravity well distortion of spacetime. Of course expressing the figure in kg by dividing by 9.81 would make more sense. Probably a teensy bit less than 9.81 at the bottom of the lithosphere though – can’t be bothered to work it out.

  14. “pounds – a measurement of weight/force not mass” There was a period when textbooks would distinguish the pound force (lbf) from the pound mass (lbm) with the “f” and “m” shown as subscripts in italics.

  15. The Imperial unit of force is the poundal ~1/32 lbf. The Newton is (to a reasonable approximation) the weight of one apple.

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