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Metals

Mineral nationalism

The Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) under the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science & Technology ( NIIST) to extract scandium from the spent acid used for the beneficiation of ilmenite at the pigment unit.

Well, OK.

The new concept has been developed in collaboration with the Research and Development Department of the KMML.

India suffers dreadfully from the “not invented or mined here syndrome”. If they didn’t they’d just give CleanTech a call and ask them to install a unit on the side of that titanium dioxide factory.

It’s all already been invented, just has to be installed.

You’re saved, saved

That commentary that the EU saved you from being mislead by by getting it taken out of Google. Of course, it has been syndicated, so the information is there, just not from the original source.

“There’s no shortage of lithium out there in the lithosphere – the crust of the planet,” Adam Smith Institute Senior Fellow Tim Worstall told Sputnik. “The only shortages can be of plants or mines that can extract it in any particular year.”

He noted how identified world lithium resources grew nearly 10 million tons in a single year, from 89 million in 2021.

“This ‘big’ Iranian find is less than the amount we find each year now that we’re all seriously looking for more resources of lithium,” he said.

The problem, he added, centers on extracting and processing the materials. For example, Worstall predicted it could take at least a decade to bring Iran’s lithium to market.

Such terrors that Brussels protects you from, eh?

Snigger

So. Doing that morning self-Google to see if anyone’s written anything fun about me.

In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed 1 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read more about the request at LumenDatabase.org.

??

In the Regulation the legislator intends to set out a very broad and comprehensive prohibition.
Social media are operators and they offer a service to their users. The Regulation prohibits both
the broadcasting (which is a very broad concept in this Regulation) and the fact that operators
“enable, facilitate or otherwise contribute to broadcast”. The Regulation refers to “including
through transmission or distribution by any means such as cable, satellite, IP-TV, internet service
providers, internet video-sharing platforms or applications.” Furthermore, the circumvention
clause is worded in very broad terms. A broad construction of those terms is also consistent with
the objective of the Regulation, which aims to tackle the fact that RT and Sputnik have to date
gravely distorted and manipulated facts and have repeatedly and consistently targeted European
political parties, especially during election periods, as well as civil society, asylum seekers,
Russian ethnic minorities, gender minorities, and the functioning of democratic institutions in the
Union and its Member States (recital 6); the Russian Federation has engaged in continuous and
concerted propaganda actions targeted at civil society in the Union and neighbouring countries,
gravely distorting and manipulating facts (recital 7).

A reporter at Sputnik emailed me looking for a quote a few days back. So, what the EU doesn’t want you to see:

Just a few basic questions I had:

(1) I saw Bank of American predict the lithium market will be in surplus this year. Do you agree? What are the factors driving this and the likely impact on prices? How far might they fall?

Yes, looks like lithium will be in surplus this year. Although that’s always a slightly odd statement – there’s always demand “at a price”. What is really being said is that the supply of lithium has risen so much that the price will decline. As it has been doing of course.
(2) Do you still envision a major shortfall in lithium in the long run amid the transition to EVs?

There’s no shortage of lithium out there in the lithosphere (the crust of the planet). The only shortages can be of plants or mines that can extract it in any particular year. Yes, undoubtedly there will be times when there is a shortfall. As there will also be of surplus. That’s just the way things go. But is there – or even can there be – any substantial shortfall for any longer than it takes to open new mines or extraction plants? No.

(3) How do you think Iran finding a huge deposit of lithium will impact the competitive landscape and the price of lithium long term?

The Iranian find is an irrelevance to anything that matters today. 8 million tonnes or so of resources? That will take at least a decade to bring to market? Even if those resources can be converted to reserves and then mined? Seriously, who cares about this? No one should. It’s an irrelevance to anything happening in the marketplace either today or in any useful timespan.

Yes, yes, I know, everyone thinks this is a big find and so on. But it really isn’t. Not at this stage of proof it isn’t.

Just to hammer this point home. In 2021 world resources were 89 million tonnes. https://pubs.usgs.gov/periodicals/mcs2022/mcs2022-lithium.pdf Imn 2022 they were 98 million tonnes https://pubs.usgs.gov/periodicals/mcs2023/mcs2023-lithium.pdf This “big” Iranian find is less than the amount we find each year now that we’re all seriously looking for more resources of lithium.

Sure, it’s interesting for Iran and someone might well make good money out of it. But it’s just not germane to global supplies of lithium nor global availability. There really is lots and lots of lithium out there to find.

Glad you all feel so protected from that nasty Russian propaganda.

Cretins on phosphogeddon

Abject idiocy:

The element’s global importance lies in its use to help crop growth. About 50m tonnes of phosphate fertiliser are sold around the world every year, and these supplies play a crucial role in feeding the planet’s 8 billion inhabitants.

However, significant deposits of phosphorus are found in only a few countries: Morocco and western Sahara have the largest amount, China the second biggest deposit and Algeria the third. In contrast, reserves in the US are down to 1% of previous levels, while Britain has always had to rely on imports. “Traditional rock phosphate reserves are relatively rare and have become depleted in line with their extraction for fertiliser production,” added Johnes.

This growing strain on stocks has raised fears the world will reach “peak phosphorus” in a few years. Supplies will then decline, leaving many nations struggling to obtain enough to feed their people.

Bollocks. They think mineral reserves are the amount available.

No.

Reserves are the working stock of extant mines. Resources are the amount available for us. And note. Not the total amount, just the amount we know about in this particular form that we mine, phosphate rock:

Some world reserves were reported only in terms of ore tonnage and grade. Phosphate rock
resources occur principally as sedimentary marine phosphorites. The largest sedimentary deposits are found in
northern Africa, the Middle East, China, and the United States. Significant igneous occurrences are found in Brazil,
Canada, Finland, Russia, and South Africa. Large phosphate resources have been identified on the continental
shelves and on seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. World resources of phosphate rock are more
than 300 billion tons. There are no imminent shortages of phosphate rock.

Again, that’s phosphate rock, not phosphorous. That, the element, is some 0.1% of the lithosphere.

23,000–24,000 × 1015 metric tons.

23,000,000,000,000,000,000 tonnes.

Or, 2,300,000,000,000,000 tonnes of phosphorous on the planet.

Which is possibly quite enough to be going on with.

Fucking cretins.

“We have reached a critical turning point,” said Prof Phil Haygarth of Lancaster University. “We might be able to turn back but we have really got to pull ourselves together and be an awful lot smarter in the way we use phosphorus. If we don’t, we face a calamity that we have termed ‘phosphogeddon’.”

Phosphorus was discovered in 1669 by the German scientist Hennig Brandt, who isolated it from urine, and it has since been shown to be essential to life. Bones and teeth are largely made of the mineral calcium phosphate – a compound derived from it – while the element also provides DNA with its sugar phosphate backbone.

“To put it simply, there is no life on Earth without phosphorus,” exlpained Prof Penny Johnes of Bristol University.

Abolish Lancaster and Bristol universities. By lunchtime.

That lithium shortage

As I never tire of telling, there’s an awful lot more out there of every mineral that folk generally realise. This is a list of lithium companies. It’s not a complete list by any means at all. It’s only the list of listed, stock market, companies that someone will pay me to write about.

Ticker Name GICS Sector GICS Industry

Payment
SGML Sigma Lithium Corporation
LIT Global X Lithium & Battery Tech ETF
SLI Standard Lithium Ltd.
CYDVF Century Lithium Corp.
BATT Amplify Lithium & Battery Technology ETF
APHLF Alpha Lithium Corporation
CXOXF Core Lithium Ltd
LITOF Frontier Lithium Inc.
GNENF Ganfeng Lithium Group Co., Ltd.
EEMMF E3 Lithium Limited
ALLIF Atlantic Lithium Limited
GNENY Ganfeng Lithium Group Co., Ltd.
SGML:CA Sigma Lithium Corporation
CRECF Critical Elements Lithium Corporation
ATLX Atlas Lithium Corporation
LI:CA American Lithium Corp.
LLLAF Leo Lithium Limited
LISMF Lithium South Development Corporation
FL:CA Frontier Lithium Inc. Materials
LCE:CA Century Lithium Corp. Materials
CRE:CA Critical Elements Lithium Corporation
TQLCF Tianqi Lithium Corporation
GBLRF Global Lithium Resources Limited
CTLHF CleanTech Lithium Plc Materials

We don’t need even all of those of that very partial list to come to market for there to be likely oversupply. Note that the list doesn’t include the large producers currently extant. This is only the companies that someone else hasn’t written about in the last 90 days…..

Sciencey science stuff

Years after initial space-mining ventures went bust, startup AstroForge has announced two missions in 2023 to obtain rare-earth minerals from a near-Earth asteroid.

Rare earths, from an asteroid? Given that concentrates are worth, hmm, a few thousand $ a tonne, seems like a remarkably expensive method of getting them.

The platinum-group metals (PGMs) — iridium, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhodium, and ruthenium — which are among the rarest mineral commodities in Earth’s crust. Just 30 tonnes of rhodium, used in catalytic converters, are mined every year, and only three tonnes of iridium. Mostly these minerals come from mines in South Africa, Siberia, with some mines in the U.S. and Canada.

That’s not a good start to a sciencey, science discussion now is it? Platinum group metals are not rare earths, rare earths are not platinum group metals. Sigh.

“The appeal of asteroid mining is elements that are rare in the Earth’s crust may be found near the surface of some asteroids, where they could be relatively easy to access,” says Michael Brown (Monash University). “But developing the technology to robotically and effectively mine tons of raw material from distant asteroids won’t be easy.”

AstroForge plans to start small, literally, with its first CubeSat the size of two loaves of bread. Its first mission will test in-situ refining in a zero-gravity environment. “That’s really the piece that we see as the highest risk because it’s unproven technology in space,” says Acain. “So we’re launching a CubeSat up to low Earth orbit to understand and characterize our refinery in those harsh environments.”

Sounds feasible to me. Not that I actually know much about this but yes, iron rich asteroids are likely to have high nickel and so also pgm contents. You can refine them with a lot of ‘leccie – solar cells therefore. Why not?

The long-term plan is to have much larger spacecraft mine the surface of M-type asteroids and return to Earth only refined PGMs. It’s a big jump. “Scaling that up to return commercially viable quantities of processed material from asteroids millions of kilometers away is going to be difficult,” says Brown.

And that’s where the problem is.

“I hope the satellites are successful, but there are good reasons for caution,” said Brown. “The small satellites that will be flown in 2023 have masses of kilograms and budgets of millions, but commercial space mining missions would have masses of many tons and budgets of billions.”

Yes, a distinct problem.

AstroForge plans to take it milestone by milestone, but Acain thinks it’s an absolute necessity to extract these rare minerals off-Earth. “We have a finite supply of resources here on Earth – that’s a fact – and there’s more demand for these resources than ever before,” he says. The present mining process, he adds, is costly and polluting. “Taking it off-Earth is the only way we see to solve all of these issues.”

Maybe. But at what price? After all, we’re talking business here so price is an important consideration. Which brings us back to the opening line here:

Years after initial space-mining ventures went bust

As I wrote back then:

It’s also true that those nickel iron asteroids are likely to be rich in platinum-group metals (PGMs). They too can be refined with a bit of electricity, and they’re sufficiently valuable (say, for platinum, $60m a tonne, just as a number to use among friends) that we might be able to finance everything we’re trying to do by doing so.

OK.

Start from the size of the platinum market. This is some 6.2 million ounces a year. 6.5 million ounces of virgin material, that is: given the value of the metal some to all of past usage is recycled as well. At our $2,000 an ounce price guide, that gives us a market value of some $13bn a year. That certainly seems large enough to keep a space programme running. (Do note, I’m ignoring palladium, a similar sized market, and rhodium etc, which are much smaller ones. They don’t change the final conclusion by their inclusion or exclusion.)

Except that’s not quite how markets work. There are demand curves as well as supply ones: sure, a nice high price will encourage new entrants like Planetary into the market. But in order to shift all this new material, prices will have to decline. The important question therefore is how elastic is the market? How far, if at all, will the price fall if a new supplier enters?

From a recent trade report we’ve seen recently, an extra 250,000 ounces has come onto the market. This has led to a 25 per cent fall in the price of platinum. Ah! Price is very sensitive to an increase in supply, then. Or, if you prefer, demand is very insensitive to a change in price. They’re the same statement, really.

Ah. If you start bringing back platinum in sufficient volume to pay for the billions in satellite mining costs then you crash the price against your output of platinum.

Ooops! And the more you mine to cover your costs the lower the price received. For the price is to do with the rarity and if you’ve just gained another whole source then the rarity rather goes away, doesn’t it?

My opinion does not change therefore:

Guys, I wish you all the luck in this little blue marble of ours, but I do think this is best described as an adventure, not a business.

Spotter, VikingWill

Eh?

As the push for deep-sea mining intensifies, experts are increasingly concerned that companies will kick up clouds of sediment, which could be laden with toxic heavy metals that may harm marine life. At least 700 scientists – along with France, Germany and Chile – are calling for a moratorium on deep-sea mining.

So, sand and dust and mud sitting on the floor of the ocean is fine. But stir it up a bit until it falls out of the water again onto the sea bed and that’s toxic pollution?

Because that is what is being complained about. No one is digging anything, there’s no release of anything. It’s that sea bed sediment being mixed up into the water for a bit.

Horrors, eh?

Not exactly, no

EPA vetoes Alaska mine to protect salmon in win for environmentalists
Move is a victory for the environment, economy and tribes of Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, and is ‘victory for science over politics’

Far more accurate to call it a triumph of politics over science…..

Snigger

Norwegian undersea metals find:

There are three types of mineral deposits on the seabed; manganese nodules, manganese crusts and sulphides. All three types contain multiple metals, and they are located at significant sea depths, mainly between 1500 and 6000 metres. On the Norwegian shelf, manganese crusts and sulphides have been found at depths around 3000 metres.

Yes, OK, all known, but they’ve gained more detail:

“The volume of recoverable resources depends on technology and economy. It remains to be seen whether the areas will be opened, and whether production can be profitable from a financial standpoint”.

Also true, these are resources, not reserves. Actually, they’re not even resources in the technical jargon, they’re just stuff that is there. We’ve no even general indication that these will be mineable economically.

15,000 tonnes of hafnium

Umm, not really. There might be 750k tonnes – or so – of Zr, which then contains Hf, but Hf separately, no.

56,000 tonnes of scandium

Well, maybe. But only because they’re talking about all the rock in some vast area of the Norwegian arctic.

This is the sort of thing to put down as vaguely interesting. There are only 92 elements (before we get to manmade ones) so everything is made of them. An, everything is made of them in varying proportion. So if you add up some vast amount of rock – “deepwater areas in the Norwegian Sea and the Greenland Sea” and so the seabed of 2.5 million km, or much more than 10x the land area of England – then you’re going to find lots of metals. Because metals is what stuff is made of, see?

In terms of mineral availability this is about as exciting as finding out that Cornwall is made of rock.

Good Grief, can’t even trust the Chinee these days

Xinhua

For some of the rare earths, the share was even higher. Of the 220 tons of Scandium and Yttrium imported during this period, which were worth 1.7 million euros, 94.4 percent came from China.

Whatever universe that is true in – Y and Sc at €7 a kg or so – it’s not this one.

Source: Xinhua Editor: Zhu Ying

Tsk.

Mineral reserves

Reserve. That portion of an identified resource from
which a usable mineral or energy commodity can be
economically and legally extracted at the time of
determination. The term “ore” applies to reserves
of some kinds of mineral commodities, generally
metallic, but for want of another term it is sometimes applied to nonmetallic commodities.

Note the “economically” and “legally” there. A Mineral reserve is where you have demonstrated – proven to, say, JORC terms – that you can extract at a profit. Legally means that you’ve got the licences to do so.

It’s the amount in known to be profitable and licenced to open mines. Nothing – at all, in no way related in any manner – to the amount that is out there that could be extracted.

Or:

Reserves may be considered a
working inventory of mining companies’ supplies of an
economically extractable mineral commodity.

And:

Some countries have specific definitions for reserves
data, and reserves for each country are assessed
separately, based on reported data and definitions. An
attempt is made to make reserves consistent among
countries for a mineral commodity and its byproducts.
For example, the Australasian Joint Ore Reserves
Committee (JORC) established the Australasian Code
for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources
and Ore Reserves (the JORC Code) that sets out
minimum standards, recommendations, and guidelines
for public reporting in Australasia of exploration results,
mineral resources, and ore reserves. Companies listed
on the Australian Securities Exchange and the New
Zealand Stock Exchange are required to report publicly
on ore reserves and mineral resources under their
control, using the JORC Code.
Data reported for individual deposits by mining
companies are compiled in Geoscience Australia’s
national mineral resources database and used in the
preparation of the annual national assessments of
Australia’s mineral resources. Because of its specific
use in the JORC Code, the term “reserves” is not used
in the national inventory, where the highest category is
“Economic Demonstrated Resources” (EDR). In
essence, EDR combines the JORC Code categories
proved reserves and probable reserves, plus measured
resources and indicated resources. This is considered
to provide a reasonable and objective estimate of what
is likely to be available for mining in the long term.
Accessible Economic Demonstrated Resources
represent the resources within the EDR category that
are accessible for mining. Reserves for Australia in
Mineral Commodity Summaries 2020 are Accessible
EDR. For more information, see table 3. Australia’s
Identified Mineral Resources as of December 2017 can
be found at https://d28rz98at9flks.cloudfront.net/124309
/124309_AIMR.pdf.

Not precisely and wholly and exactly but pretty much. Mineral reserves – in those global estimates that all the environmentalists like to look at – are compiled from the data companies report to stock exchanges of the minerals they’ve got in their particular mines. That is, it’s the stock exchanges that determine what mineral reserves are. There is no geologic input into this. There is no global survey. It’s a purely financial totting up.

And therefore, of course, entirely useless as an estimation of how much there is out there that we might be able to use.

This is the latest bonkers claim

Thus, what might initially appear to be a purely scientific issue actually has much more far-reaching repercussions. “Sustaining the human elementome will be more and more complicated and risky; it will need to be done in terms of environmental justice, and of course, with a more rational use of the Earth’s limited resources,” sums up Jaume Terradas, founder of CREAF, honorary professor at the UAB and one of the article’s three authors.

Precisely because metals ‘n’ all are not biological things, merely extracted from rocks, therefore we need global and socialist planning of them all. That is – really – what they’re saying.

Josep Peñuelas, CREAF and CSIC researcher and the other co-author of the study. “In that scenario, it is possible that we will have used up all our reserves of some of those elements (gold and antimony) by 2050, and of others (molybdenum and zinc) within a hundred years.”

They’re also grossly ill-informed of course.

Idiot sodding twats

“Mineral element consumption/extraction is rising at a rate of around 3% a year, and that will continue up to 2050,” Josep Peñuelas, the other co-author of the study, said. “In that scenario, it is possible that we will have used up all our reserves of some of those elements (gold and antimony) by 2050, and of others (molybdenum and zinc) within a hundred years.”

Because anyone who worries or thinks about mineral availability in terms of reserves is an idiot sodding twat. Of course.

This is of course the aim but I think it’ll get solved

A mass market in affordable electric cars will not happen soon because of the difficulty of producing them on a commercially viable basis, one of the largest makers of zero-emission vehicles for British drivers has warned.

Paul Philpott, UK chief executive of Kia, the fast-growing South Korean car company, said it had no immediate plans for a mass-market electric product.

Some fear there is a prospect of a society of haves and have-nots in the electric car revolution because of the sheer cost of buying or financing a zero-emission vehicle.

The Green antinomians insist that the proles shouldn’t in fact have a go anywhere, anywhen means of personal transportation. How can they be controlled if such mobility is available?

The battery pack is the costliest component of an electric car. The smaller the car, the larger the proportion the battery in its production cost.

That, I think, is solvable. In fact, I’ll make a prediction, it will be solved.

Currently lithium is of the order of $80,000 a tonne, around and about. Give it a decade – perhaps half that – and I’d expect to see lithium at $8k a tonne, perhaps below.

That won’t solve the depreciation problem, there will still be an entire absence of £500 beaters out there. But that cost problem at the front, yes, that will go away.

There’s just so much damn lithium out there. We do not have a shortage of it that can be extracted. We only have a shortage of people able to extract right now. There’s so much capital roaring into this sector that it’s going to go into gross oversupply, most of the people hoping to mine for it will go bust. This is not because I am gifted with second sight, but because I have third sight. This is just what always does happen with minerals and metals. Far from the idiot insistence of the Club of Rome and all that, minerals become cheaper the more we apply our minds to go finding them. Julian Simon was right.

As we noted just last week there’re those blokes who think they can extract, profitably, from the Red Sea. I think they’re being a bit hopeful but the next notch up, from geothermal waters (Salton Sea, Cornwall, German power stations, desalination plants) is already known to be practicable and economic.

That still leaves the issue of how to kill off the antinomians but one problem at a time, one problem at a time.

Lithium from seawater

Matthew sends in this:

Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia have figured out how to extract lithium, an essential part of electric vehicle batteries, from seawater in a more cost-effective way.

No, I don’t know. But I have heard about this.

https://www.adamsmith.org/blog/we-do-think-these-worries-over-critical-minerals-are-overblown

https://capital.com/will-lithium-pop-like-the-cannabis-bubble

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4498017-vulcan-energy-resources-no-technical-reason-this-should-not-work

All mention it.

As it happens I talked to a guy working – entirely independently – on similar membrane stuff and he says stuff to extract from 50 and 100 ppm solutions is commercial and good to go. Almost off the shelf right now.

So another order or more of magnitude better? Sure, I could believe that. I wouldn;t say that proves it, no, but I could well believe it possible by refining the membranes.

And there’s another point here, about desalination plants. The output of a desal plant is fresh water, sure. But there’s also an output of saltier than normal water as well. That could also be a good starting point.

If these guys are right, at $5 a kg of power input? That’s a complete game changer. Li is currently $80 a kg.

Of course, anyone would want to see a great deal more proof but I can imagine them being right, I’d put it well inside the possibility envelope.

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.

Tossery.

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.

Sweden’s rare earth metals find

Sweden’s state mining company has announced the discovery of the largest deposit of rare earth metals ever found in Europe, raising hopes that the continent could reduce its dependence on China.

Mining company LKAB announced on Thursday that it had found at least a million tonnes of rare earth oxides in the Kiruna region in the far north of the country.

Couple of people have sent this to me. For which thanks. Looks like it’s apatite. Associated with iron ore, fluorite and so on, sounds about right. Also, v similar – I think – to what the Chinese mine at that vast place at Baotou.

That’s already making assumptions. I’d go further in assuming that it will be high in the light REs, light in the heavies. So, lots of La and Ce, things already in oversupply, light in the Tb and Dy everyone really wants. Nd/Pr could be in any sort of range.

The big test here will be what is that Nd/Pr content though. Assume that they mine, get a RE concentrate. Great. If that’s less than – about, aroundanda – 10% Nd/Pr then the entire deposit is valueless. Simply because of the costs and revenues of the processing. More than 20% and at current prices and processes then it’s great.

Note that I’m making gargantuan assumptions from a quick reading of a not very informative press release. That price and concentration point is more generally true tho’, applies to any deposit these days.

Woo Hoo!

A new study investigates a novel process for lessening the negative environmental impact of coal mine drainage and extracting rare-earth elements from it, precious minerals needed to manufacture many high-tech devices.

Cool!

The process is currently more costly than the current market price of rare metals,

Ah.

“Rare-earth elements, like yttrium, for example, are necessary components of electronics, computers, and other gadgets that we use every day,” said Jeff Bielicki, co-author of the study and an associate professor in civil environmental and geodetic engineering and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University.

If this is being led by some tosser who thinks yttrium is widely used in electronics (jet engines and nickel alloys, maybe) then we’ve a problem right there.

But there’s a lovely thing here. This is an output of Trump era subsidies. There was a big push to find something – anything – that could be got out of coal. To, you know, save those coal miners’ jobs. To the point there were subsidies flying around for all sorts of things. Capture rare metals from coal! But, umm, don’t try to capture rare metals like germanium from fly ash, you can have some money to do it from clinker though. The thing being that fly ash works, clinker and raw coal doesn’t – but jobs!

No, really, this whole rare earths from coal thing is a Trump era policy. Damn fool thing too. But none of those about to laud this are going to connect it to Trump now, are they?

I don’t, in fact, believe Cornish Lithium

Now, this is almost certainly an error of mine, not of theirs. But their Teleavour plan is from mica. OK, yes, sure there is much of that down there. Very similar to Zinnwald Lithium and European Metals – the processing system will be near exactly the same in fact.

Is this chemically possible? Sure. Business-possible? Well, they’ve done the numbers, not me.

But this, to me, is one of those blaring red-light neenaws.

High value by-products: kaolin, caesium and rubidium,
Potash, Amorphous Silica, Gypsum – Test work underway

Sure, kaolin, that’s China Clay. It’s an old China Clay pit so, well, obviously.

Again, this could just be me. But anyone claiming Rb as a valuable byproduct has some definite convincing to do to me.

High value co-products (caesium, rubidium & potash fertilizer)

Potash, sure. But rubidium?

The US uses a couple of tonnes (that’s two tonnes) a year. The prices given are catalogue prices. That is, this is the cost from a catalogue where copper will cost you $60 a gramme (as opposed to $7,000 a tonne in quantity). So, including the cost of the stock, the catalogue, the overnight delivery, the certainty of supply and so on and on.

A couple of tonnes a year, sure, there’s a business there. Hell, I ran one doing exactly that for a decade even if with a different material. But a high-value coproduct on a $250 million mine? Gerraway.

Please do note my point here. It’s not that Rb can’t be mined and sold in small quantity. It’s that anyone using Rb as an example of a moneymaker has achieved my scepticism.

Other parts of their story I think sound excellent – I know, independently, that the extraction from geothermal is viable in the chemistry set sense. Even, from the horse’s mouth, that it’s viable cashwise.

But I just can’t get over this prejudice that folk talking about Rb markets aren’t being serious.