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Freegrass

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Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« on: August 16, 2022, 09:45:51 PM »
I didn't find a threat on mining here, so I made this new one about it. I think it's an important topic that needs to be discussed as we continue to dig up more rare-earth and other minerals. The impact on geopolitics and the environment is enormous.

To start off this discussion, here's a good video about it that explains the challenges we face.

90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

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vox_mundi

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2022, 05:26:29 PM »
Sulfur Shortage: A Potential Resource Crisis Looming as the World Decarbonises
https://phys.org/news/2022-08-sulfur-shortage-potential-resource-crisis.html

A projected shortage of sulfuric acid, a crucial chemical in our modern industrial society, could stifle green technology advancement and threaten global food security, according to a new study led by UCL researchers.



The study, published in the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) journal The Geographical Journal, highlights that global demand for sulfuric acid is set to rise significantly from '246 to 400 million metric tons' by 2040—a result of more intensive agriculture and the world moving away from fossil fuels.

The researchers estimate that this will result in a shortfall in annual supply of between 100 and 320 million metric tons—between 40% and 130% of current supply—depending on how quickly decarbonization occurs.

A vital part of modern manufacturing, sulfuric acid is required for the production of phosphorus fertilizers that help feed the world, and for extracting rare metals from ores essential to the rapidly required green economy transition, like cobalt and nickel used in high-performance Li-ion batteries.

Currently, over 80% of the global sulfur supply is in the form of sulfur waste from the desulfurization of crude oil and natural gas that reduces the sulfur dioxide gas emissions that cause acid rain. However, decarbonization of the global economy to deal with climate change will significantly reduce the production of fossil fuels—and subsequently the supply of sulfur.

This study, led by researchers at University College London (UCL), is the first to identify this major issue. The authors suggest that unless action is taken to reduce the need for this chemical, a massive increase in environmentally damaging mining will be required to fill the resulting resource demand.

Study lead author, Professor Mark Maslin (UCL Geography), said: "Sulfur shortages have occurred before, but what makes this different is that the source of the element is shifting away from being a waste product of the fossil fuel industry.

... they prompt crucial questions about whether it would make economic sense to invest in alternative production methods, given it is not currently possible to predict how quickly the supply of sulfur as a waste product from oil and gas desulfurization will decrease as decarbonization of the global economy is only just starting.

Sulfur: a potential resource crisis that could stifle green technology and threaten food security as the world decarbonizes, Geographical Journal (2022)
https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/geoj.12475
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vox_mundi

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2022, 02:59:03 PM »
Rare Earths Processor Buys Rights to Mine In Greenland
https://techxplore.com/news/2022-08-rare-earths-processor-rights-greenland.html

One of the world's few rare earths processors outside China has bought exploration rights to mine in Greenland, opening an avenue for diversifying supplies of the minerals critical for advanced and green technologies

Toronto-based Neo Performance Materials, the rare earths processor, said Monday it plans to develop the Sarfartoq deposit in southwest Greenland and will send the ore to its facility in Estonia in Eastern Europe. It's one of only two plants outside China that processes rare earths to a high degree.

Neo aims to have the mine running in two to three years. It will be the company's first major mining project. CEO Constantine Karayannopoulos said that by opening the mine, he hopes to shield the company from volatile rare earth prices, which have shot up in recent years due to supply disruptions and strong demand.

Karayannopoulos called it "business, not geopolitics." But in recent years, rare earths have attracted the attention of policymakers in Washington, Beijing and other capitals given their importance to the global high-tech supply chain. The U.S., Europe and Japan call their dependence on China's rare earths a "national security risk" and have sought to diversify their supply.

Meanwhile, supplies of rare earths have shrunk, and some mines are raising ethical and environmental concerns. Mining rare earths is a dirty business when done cheaply, and China, the world's largest miner, has shuttered many mines in recent years to curb environmental damage.

... Some of that mining has been outsourced to Myanmar, where a lack of oversight is masking a dirty secret. An Associated Press investigation this month found the Myanmar mines are linked to environmental destruction, the theft of land from villagers and the funneling of money to brutal militias, including at least one linked to Myanmar's secretive military government. The AP traced rare earths from Myanmar to the supply chains of 78 companies, including major auto makers and electronics giants.

... Plans for another rare earths mine in Greenland failed after voters put in power a left-leaning government that blocked development. The site had high concentrations of uranium, raising concerns over how radioactive waste would be disposed.
“There are three classes of people: those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see.” ― anonymous

Insensible before the wave so soon released by callous fate. Affected most, they understand the least, and understanding, when it comes, invariably arrives too late

Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2022, 04:27:40 PM »
Thanks for posting this Vox! That's exactly why I opened this thread. Us greenies have to face the fact that all that new "clean" tech has a dirty side attached to it... Climate deniers on the extreme right love to use these facts to bash the green revolution... And who can disagree with them? It's a serious problem we have to deal with...
90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

WTF happened?

NeilT

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2022, 07:50:31 PM »
It's a serious problem we have to deal with...

In general, once.  Because recycling, even of REE, is evolving very quickly and will eventually provide the vast majority of the REE we require for our ongoing vehicle renewal.

Contrast this with fossil fuels where we dig them up, continuously, burn them and then pollute the atmosphere with them for decades or centuries to come.

The extreme right want to deflect the fossil fuel burning issue by conflating it with a one time cost (or at least an initial high cost followed by a very low cost thereafter), with the manufacturing of fossil fuel vehicles.  Completely ignoring the ongoing pollution of fossil fuel emissions.

Whilst it is right to try and ensure that these metals are mined in as clean a way as possible, it is wrong to support the extreme right in their attempts to delay action on CO2 emissions which are going to destroy the liveable biosphere of the planet.
Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.

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Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2022, 09:14:30 PM »
It's a serious problem we have to deal with...
it is wrong to support the extreme right in their attempts to delay action on CO2 emissions which are going to destroy the liveable biosphere of the planet.
Not sure how you got to that conclusion, that I'm somehow supporting the extreme right. Please withdraw that lie! That was completely unnecessary and offensive. All I'm saying is that we need to come up with answers to those arguments, because you're not making much sense at the beginning of your post either. The amount of rare- earth metals that we'll need to electrify all the cars in the world, and to build all other clean technologies that we need, is massive! Recycling will help us a little, but it'll take 100 years before we can stop digging them up on a massive scale. So we better do it right, without polluting the entire planet.
90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

WTF happened?

NeilT

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2022, 10:15:56 PM »
Not sure how you got to that conclusion, that I'm somehow supporting the extreme right. Please withdraw that lie!

When you present the product of extreme right propoganda as something which should stop the progress towards renewable energy and zero emissions transport, you support their agenda.

Back at the beginning of the millennium there was a strong movement to educate scientists to stop them being manipulated by the media.

The media would ask "was this event caused by Global Warming".  Well of course the answer is "the cause of no single event can ever be tied down to Global Warming".

What the scientists were encouraged to say was.

"This is the wrong question.  Turn it around.  Would this event have happened if we had not caused Global Warming.  To which the answer is Almost Certainly Not".

You see this is a true statement which cannot be challenged.  It is a 5 sigma event.  Not absolutely certain but almost so.

So when you present these hit pieces about the mining of rare earth minerals, you have to remember that they are specifically produced with an environmental slant to make the person in the street think that EV's are doing more harm than good.

The producers of these "concern trolling" pieces are the far right.

So I won't withdraw what I said.  I will clarify what I said.  Make absolutely certain of whom it is that are pulling your strings when you find articles like this.

This sort of thing was rife in the late 90's.  It is much less so now as people have become more aware of the reality of the situation.

Yes there is a need to govern the actions of the mining companies.  But this kind of thing is going on all over the world every day.  Not just for critical EV materials.  We should address bad mining companies for ALL the materials they do this with.  Not just EV materials.  Then we will see the true size of the problem and understand that focusing on EV materials is for the benefit of the Fossil Fuel industry.  Not for humanity.
Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.

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Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2022, 10:59:32 PM »
Not sure how you got to that conclusion, that I'm somehow supporting the extreme right. Please withdraw that lie!
When you present the product of extreme right propoganda as something which should stop the progress towards renewable energy and zero emissions transport, you support their agenda.
When did I say we have to stop the progress towards renewable energy? We should not. To accuse me of supporting right wing propaganda is ridiculous. If you would have read some of the things that Vox posted, you would have known what the problem is. Stating a problem is important. It's the truth. It's a fact. Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away...

Quote
Plans for another rare earths mine in Greenland failed after voters put in power a left-leaning government that blocked development. The site had high concentrations of uranium, raising concerns over how radioactive waste would be disposed.
https://techxplore.com/news/2022-08-rare-earths-processor-rights-greenland.html
90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

WTF happened?

be cause

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2022, 11:24:55 PM »
every day I see friends sharing photos from mines in Africa and Chile and exploding buses etc .. it's never been so easy to divide and conk her .
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NeilT

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2022, 11:27:31 PM »
When did I say we have to stop the progress towards renewable energy? We should not.

OK granted.  Perhaps I'm just too sensitive to misdirection from the fossil fuel lobby.

For that I apologise.
Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.

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Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2022, 11:41:55 PM »
When did I say we have to stop the progress towards renewable energy? We should not.

OK granted.  Perhaps I'm just too sensitive to misdirection from the fossil fuel lobby.

For that I apologise.
Thank you. We have to understand their arguments, and come up with good answers. If we can't come up with good answers, we lose the debate, and that's what the FF industry really loves, because then they win the argument, and it becomes much more difficult for us greenies to convince the masses. And that's the last thing we need...

That's why I'm also against those idiots that glue themselves to museum pieces. It's the worst thing you can do if you want to convince the unconvinced...

Our problem is that we don't have ships dumping barrels of nuclear waste into the ocean. Greenpeace really made a difference with their little boats back then. The climate debate is a lot more difficult to explain to people, and sometimes you just have to admit that it's a difficult problem to solve, that we'll have to dig up a lot of minerals, and use a lot of energy to build all the things we need to change the world... It's not all rosy...
90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

WTF happened?

oren

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2022, 08:20:32 AM »
Agree with last post. Answers are needed (and are usually easy to come by.)
And today's pollution is mostly invisible and slow-acting, though no less harmful.

KiwiGriff

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2022, 09:35:19 AM »
We have to dig it up once.
it is not used up, once introduced into the economy it can go around and around indefinitely.
With fossil fuel its mined then burned... that is it.
A recent argument I had on line about lithium battery's.
We already recycle about 99% of the lead in lead acid battery's
Once we have enough lithium based battery's to support the industry we will recycle a similar proportion.
The basic laws of Physics tells us the amount of fossil  fuels  recycled is and must always be zero.     
 
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P-maker

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2022, 01:07:01 PM »
Freegrass,

Please abstain from using expressions such as:

"us greenies trying to convince the masses"

You are holding on to the wrong end of the stick, when you try to make a distinction between 'us' and the 'masses'.

Mining in Greenland is in itself a difficult undertaking, and doing it in sustainable way is a particular challenge, despite the waste hydropower resources available just 'around the corner'.


Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2022, 03:06:39 PM »
Freegrass,

Please abstain from using expressions such as:

"us greenies trying to convince the masses"

You are holding on to the wrong end of the stick, when you try to make a distinction between 'us' and the 'masses'.
It was just a facetious little comment. Don't take it too seriously...
90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

WTF happened?

Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #15 on: September 20, 2022, 08:53:29 PM »
Interesting video on deep sea mining.
The things we want to destroy to become green...    :(
Ties in nicely with the battery discussion on the GH2 thread, and why I don't like them if they require rare earth minerals...

90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

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SteveMDFP

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #16 on: September 20, 2022, 09:45:11 PM »
Ties in nicely with the battery discussion on the GH2 thread, and why I don't like them if they require rare earth minerals...


There are many, many chemistry combinations that can power batteries.  Many do not use any rare earth elements or chromium, or other problematic metals.  Nobody ever said lithium was the optimal metal to use, it was just the only chemistry that was available in bulk at the time that Musk wanted to provide virtual power stations for Australia.

Personally, I'm a fan of Sadoway's liquid metal batteries.  I'd call it molten metal, myself.  Very long life, and simple construction.  He just needs  better investment to finish getting it off the ground.  See:


NeilT

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2022, 10:57:00 PM »
Not only that but on the batteries thread we've got a lot of information about flow batteries.  Which also work with Grid level storage.  But have few or none of the material or life issues that Li have.

BTW, Lithium is not required from the nodules.  It mainly comes from brine evaporation or rock mining.  Barring additional work on clay's which is currently in development.

We cannot point to Li batteries and nodules and say "See GH2 is a far better option".  Because so are a lot of other options.

It just so happens that the grid level storage which is going into high volume is mainly coming from Tesla and Tesla is Li based.

When the east coast of the UK became largely disconnected due to lightning and other issues, it could have been a lot worse, bar a flow battery which was sitting connected to the grid.

I agree that GH2 will have a place in a world awash with renewables which will need varying longevity of storage.  But to claim it is "far better than batteries", general, because of very specific issues with NMC batteries, is stretching the reality a bit.

But it's good right?  I agree that GH2 has a place.

Where it does not have a place is Greenwashing and that seems to be a large chunk of the energy suppliers focus with it.
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Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2022, 11:31:25 PM »
Not only that but on the batteries thread we've got a lot of information about flow batteries.  Which also work with Grid level storage.  But have few or none of the material or life issues that Li have.

BTW, Lithium is not required from the nodules.  It mainly comes from brine evaporation or rock mining.  Barring additional work on clay's which is currently in development.

We cannot point to Li batteries and nodules and say "See GH2 is a far better option".  Because so are a lot of other options.

It just so happens that the grid level storage which is going into high volume is mainly coming from Tesla and Tesla is Li based.

When the east coast of the UK became largely disconnected due to lightning and other issues, it could have been a lot worse, bar a flow battery which was sitting connected to the grid.

I agree that GH2 will have a place in a world awash with renewables which will need varying longevity of storage.  But to claim it is "far better than batteries", general, because of very specific issues with NMC batteries, is stretching the reality a bit.

But it's good right?  I agree that GH2 has a place.

Where it does not have a place is Greenwashing and that seems to be a large chunk of the energy suppliers focus with it.
I thinks its better if you move this to the GH2 thread Neil. I'll give a response there tomorrow. I'm a little bit tired now, and ready to go to bed.

I don't have a real problem with batteries. I should have been more specific in saying that I'm against Lithium Ion batteries. I thought everyone understood that. But I guess I should have been more clear about that. My bad...

But like I said, lets continue that discussion on the GH2 thread tomorrow. Time to go zzz now...
90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

WTF happened?

Human Habitat Index

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #19 on: September 21, 2022, 06:49:54 AM »
Hemp – batteries

With over 50,000 uses for the hemp plant claimed it may come as no surprise that none of the plant need go to waste. Researchers are using so called waste fibres and fines from the decortication of the stem to create lower-cost energy storage.

Alternet Systems, a company dedicated to energy storage and EV tech, has purchased land in New York to grow and process hemp as a component in supercapacitors, a form of energy storage that can be charged much faster than lithium-ion or any other type of battery.

https://ihempwa.org/batteries/
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kassy

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2022, 04:33:53 PM »
Well Freegrass there is a green alternative.  ;)
Þetta minnismerki er til vitnis um að við vitum hvað er að gerast og hvað þarf að gera. Aðeins þú veist hvort við gerðum eitthvað.

Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2022, 04:44:39 PM »
Well Freegrass there is a green alternative.  ;)
I would almost get excited to see them go up in flames... 🤣

Quote
By heating the hemp bast for 24 hours at 350 F, then adding even more heat afterwards, Mitlin found they can turn the bast into carbon nanosheets, just like the conventional graphene nanosheets. In a 2014 interview with American Chemical Society, Mitlin noted: “We’re past the proof-of-principle stage for the fully functional supercapacitor,” he says. “Now we’re gearing up for small-scale manufacturing.”
Quote
supercapacitors have been left on the sideline due to their extremely high cost and their low energy density. While lithium-ion batteries can hold 100 to 200 watt-hours of electricity per kilogram, supercapacitors can only hold about 5 watt-hours per kg.

This makes supercapacitors worthless as energy storage for renewable systems, as they can’t hold enough energy to really be useful. However, in situations where short bursts of high energy are needed, supercapacitors are the perfect fit. For example, supercapacitors in hybrid buses equipped with regenerative braking are able to quickly harness that energy produced during braking, then immediately release it seconds later to help the hybrid bus accelerate.

Cannabis truly is an amazing plant... :)
Thanks for that HHI!
90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

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Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #22 on: June 12, 2023, 06:34:54 AM »
A pretty good documentary on the exploitation of cobalt miners in Congo. It starts all the way back in the days with our Belgian King Leopold II. Definitely worth your time! It's also a good new YouTube channel that I just found.

90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #23 on: June 16, 2023, 07:50:31 PM »
x-post on elect gen thread


A once-shuttered California mine is trying to transform the rare-earth industry
A U.S.-based rare earth supply chain could boost clean energy and electric vehicles — and military weapons.

https://grist.org/energy/a-once-shuttered-california-mine-is-trying-to-transform-the-rare-earth-industry/


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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2023, 01:24:39 AM »
Iron Nitrides: Powerful Magnets Without The Rare Earth Elements   2022


What happens is that the nitrogen atoms get incorporated into the interstitial space of the crystal, elongating one side. This asymmetry is similar to the tetragonal crystal structure of neodymium magnets. Coupled with the ferromagnetic properties of iron, the result is a strongly magnetizable alloy without the need for rare-earth metals.
(snip)
Low-temperature nitridation is also possible, using iron oxide nanoparticles as a starting material. In this method, the particles are treated with ammonia gas to get the nitrogen into the crystal structure. Alternatively, iron oxide can be mixed with ammonium nitrate in a planetary ball mill; after a few days of milling at 600 rpm, the stainless steel balls decompose the ammonium nitrate into elemental nitrogen, which diffuses into the iron nanoparticles. The resulting α”-Fe16N2 is then separated by magnet and can be formed into solid shapes. This method seems like it would easily scale up to an industrial process.

https://hackaday.com/2022/09/01/iron-nitrides-powerful-magnets-without-the-rare-earth-elements/


doi:10.1098/rspa.1951.0155

morganism

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #25 on: July 04, 2023, 10:52:39 PM »
China imposes export controls on rare minerals used to make semiconductor chips

Beginning Aug. 1., the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said exports of the metals germanium and gallium will be allowed only if exporters secure licenses from the ministry, a move it called essential to “protect national security and interests.”

Although the ministry did not go into detail about the reasons for the new restrictions, an editorial in the state-owned China Daily following the announcement blasted the Netherlands for its export controls on semiconductor components.

The editorial also noted that the U.S. is home to the largest germanium mines in the world but “seldom exploits them.” Russia, Belgium and Canada also produce germanium, while Russia, Ukraine, Japan and South Korea also produce gallium.

China leads the world in total production of both metals. The country produces about 650,000 kilograms of gallium per year, about 94 percent of global production. The nation has been dramatically increasing production since 2019, when environmental measures curtailed the use of similar metals.

The U.S., by contrast, has no current domestic source of the metal, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. China was also the largest germanium producer as of 2021, producing about 95 metric tons."

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/4079680-china-imposes-export-controls-on-rare-minerals-used-to-make-semiconductor-chips/

Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2023, 03:44:46 AM »
Why should anyone be talking about mining rare-earth and other minerals? Not important, right?
Who cares... I buy all my clean energy stuff in the store...
90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #27 on: September 25, 2023, 10:54:12 PM »
(Looks like Bidens stop in Vietnam was really more about blocking China dominance than we suspected with the proffer of the F-16s.)


Inside Vietnam's plans to dent China's rare earths dominance

(...)
Still, rare earths at Dong Pao are relatively easy to access and are mostly concentrated in bastnaesite ores, according to the Hanoi University of Mining and Geology.

These are typically rich in cerium, used in flat screens, and lanthanides, such as praseodymium and neodymium, which go into magnets.

Tuan said VTRE hoped to win a concession that would allow it to extract about 10,000 metric tons of rare-earth oxide (REO) equivalent a year, roughly one-third of the mine's expected annual output. Production could start around the end of 2024, he said.

That would put Dong Pao's output slightly below that of California's Mountain Pass, one of the world's largest mines, which produced 43,000 metric tons of REO equivalent in 2022, according to the USGS.

Vietnam also plans to develop additional mines. In July, Hanoi set a target to produce up to 60,000 tons of REO equivalent a year by 2030. China set a domestic quota of 210,000 tons last year.

Those goals would see Vietnam producing 5% to 15% of China's projected output by the decade's end, said David Merriman, a research analyst at consultancy Project Blue, who expects China to increase production over that period.

Vietnam's targets were "ambitious, though they are not entirely out of the question", he said.
U.S. ENCOURAGEMENT

The U.S. agreed during Biden's visit to help Vietnam better map its rare-earths resources and "attract quality investment", according to a White House fact sheet, a move that could encourage U.S. investors to bid for Vietnam's new concessions.

Reuters could not determine whether concrete plans involving U.S. investors exist at this stage. Officials at the U.S. embassy in Hanoi, the White House and Department of Commerce did not reply to requests for comment.

https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/inside-vietnams-plans-dent-chinas-rare-earths-dominance-2023-09-25/

morganism

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #28 on: September 30, 2023, 02:12:20 AM »
France taps nuclear know-how to recycle electric car batteries

Bagnols-Sur-Ceze, France (AFP) Sept 27, 2023

In the cradle of France's atomic programme, researchers are using their nuclear know-how for a key project in the country's energy transition: recycling the raw materials in old electric car batteries, solar panels and wind turbines.

The European Union has made building up its recycling capacity a key part of its strategy to become less reliant on Asia for critical metals such as lithium, nickel and silver.

The 27-nation bloc is trying to close the gap with China, which already recycles car batteries and has its own massive reserves of raw materials and refining capacity.

Reusing old components could help countries such as France, which do not have mines and rely on imports, narrow the gap.

The French atomic and alternative energy commission (CEA) is using its research facility in the southern centre of Marcoule to find ways to recycle the components used for clean technologies.

The sprawling campus, where France's nuclear weapons and energy programmes were born, is so sensitive that images of its location are blurred out or pixelated on Google Maps.

But the CEA gave reporters a rare tour to show off its recycling work ahead of a conference on critical metals to be hosted by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris on Thursday.

Many of the techniques used by Marcoule researchers come from their knowhow in recycling nuclear waste, an area in which France is a world leader.

The goal is to recover the materials and use them on an industrial scale, said Richard Laucournet, head of the new materials department at the CEA centre.

"We are looking at how to store, convert and transport electricity, and how to make the energy transition efficient," said Laucournet.

"Thanks to the simulation tools developed here, we can reprocess rare earths from magnets."

- Black mass -

In one lab, researchers peer into a metre-thick window as they operate large, bike handle-like robotic arms to cut out irradiated fuel rods.

The alloy sections are placed in hot acid solutions to make the metal dissolve. Afterwards it can be extracted again via the use of organic solvents and decanters.

The process can recover lithium, nickel, cobalt and graphite from the black mass that comes from crushing the automobile electric battery cells.

Researchers say the technique developed at Marcoule will be useful for recycling fuels from future fourth-generation nuclear reactors as well as rare earths from magnets.

This technology is all the more useful since there is "no real magnet recycling sector" in the world except scrap in Asia, said Laucournet.

Another technique at the centre is to use carbon dioxide to detach and inflate solar panel cells, allowing the recovery of silicon and the silver contained inside.

For wind turbine blades, the CEA is applying the same process with "supercritical water" that it has been working on for 20 years in a bid to remove radioactivity from metals in a liquid state.

Supercritical water at very high temperature and high pressure has the power to penetrate inside the materials and to break the polymer chains of the fibreglass or carbon composites that make up wind turbine blades and hydrogen tanks.

- Nuclear waste -

The CEA is also working on the possibility of extracting critical rare materials from radioactive waste.

"It contains very rare and very expensive metals, generated by the nuclear reaction itself," including palladium, rhodium or ruthenium, said Philippe Prene, circular economy manager for low-carbon energies at the CEA.

The materials include palladium, rhodium and ruthenium, all of which can be used as catalysts in the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen.

"We started studies to extract them and it works," Prene said.

He added that recycled materials could one day account for 35 percent of Europe's needs to become self-sufficient to make batteries.

But he warned that "in no case" will such recycling make France and Europe completely self-reliant.

https://www.energy-daily.com/reports/France_taps_nuclear_know-how_to_recycle_electric_car_batteries_999.html

morganism

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #29 on: January 24, 2024, 08:38:44 PM »
Iron extracted from hazardous waste of aluminium production

Millions of tonnes of ‘red mud’, a hazardous waste of aluminium production, are generated annually. A potentially sustainable process for treating this mud shows that it could become a source of iron for making steel.

Steel and aluminium are the world’s most-produced metals1, but both have high environmental costs. The production of steel requires a fossil fuel (coal) and generates approximately 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per tonne of steel2. Aluminium production generates 2–4 tonnes of environmentally problematic waste per tonne of aluminium...
(paywalled)

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-024-00071-2?error=cookies_not_supported&code=b77d72d4-6e6f-4db8-accb-552dab85fed5

Freegrass

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #30 on: March 01, 2024, 10:25:25 PM »
Pretty good comprehensive video from Rosie about mining and its emissions.

90% of the world is religious, but somehow "love thy neighbour" became "fuck thy neighbours", if they don't agree with your point of view.

WTF happened?

morganism

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #31 on: March 18, 2024, 10:36:50 PM »
(gotta love LowTech magazine, always intriguing and fab gardening tech too..)

 How to Escape From the Iron Age?

We cannot lower carbon emissions if we keep producing steel with fossil fuels.

(...)
The massive presence of steel in industrial society is not so obvious.5 At home, we find several steel appliances such as the refrigerator, washing machine, water boiler, bathtub, and cooking, heating, and cooling appliances. However, only 2-3% of total steel production ends up in domestic appliances.678 Outdoors, there’s a lot of steel in the form of vehicles. These are especially passenger cars that use around 10% of all steel globally (20% in rich countries). Busses, trucks, trains, and ships add another 4-5%. Altogether that is still less than 20% of the global steel output.

    Most steel is embedded in other materials, located underground, or far away from residential areas.

Most steel is embedded in other materials, located underground, or far away from residential areas. More than half of global steel production goes into construction, which includes buildings (residential, commercial, industrial) and infrastructures (bridges, tunnels, harbors, canals, runways, oil rigs, refineries, pipelines, power plants, transmission lines, railways, subways, and so on). Much of that steel is embedded in concrete. Reinforced concrete is the world’s primary building material, and concrete is the only material that can match the output of steel (1,819 Mt in 2021).

Roughly 15% of global steel production serves to make machinery, including machine tools, industrial equipment, electrical hardware, and construction, mining, and farming machines. Even products made of other materials – such as other metals, plastics, and wood – are shaped by steel tools.5 The final 15% of steel production ends up in a variety of objects, from screws over food packaging to furniture and shipping containers.
(snip)
However, despite all these advantages, the global iron and steel industry consumes more energy and produces more carbon emissions than any other industry. The total primary energy use of crude steel production was 39 exajoules (EJ) in 2021, which corresponds to 7% of all energy used worldwide in that year (595 EJ). The greenhouse gas emissions are even higher because around 75% of energy use comes from coal – the fuel with the highest carbon emissions. In 2021, the iron and steel industry produced 3.3 Gt of carbon emissions, roughly 9% of global emissions (36.3 Gt).12 The concrete industry follows closely with 8% of global emissions.

The estimates above come from the World Steel Association and the International Energy Agency. These data are available for all metals and have been documented over a long period, allowing for historical comparisons. However, they only refer to the smelting of the metal. They do not include the energy use and carbon emissions for mining and transporting iron ore, coal, limestone, scrap, and steel products. Nor do they include the energy and emissions for coke production and ore preparation – all essential to the steel production process.7

Scientific studies that have set wider boundaries for the iron and steel industry conclude that the energy cost of steel production increases by 50% to 100%.13 One report concludes that the methane emissions from metallurgical coal mining alone could increase emissions by 27%. Another study estimates that seaborne transport of iron ore and steel adds 10-15% extra emissions.1415 Iron and steel production also create other environmental problems, such as high water use, solid waste production, and significant air and water pollution.

The carbon footprint of the iron and steel industry is incompatible with current ambitions to eliminate net carbon emissions by 2050, even less so because steel production is very likely to expand further. Steel production grew tenfold since 1950 and doubled between 2000 and 2020, growing faster than many researchers had predicted.16 Furthermore, efficiency gains have decreased, and there is a scientific consensus that current technologies have reached their thermodynamic limits.7917 During the last two decades, the average energy use for the production of 1 ton of steel has remained around 20 GJ/t
(more)

https://solar.lowtechmagazine.com/2024/03/how-to-escape-from-the-iron-age/

(can research the use of bamboo for structural concrete strengthening- replacement of rebar)

morganism

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #32 on: March 22, 2024, 10:35:57 PM »
The Feds Are Trying to Get Plants to Mine Metal Through Their Roots

Some species can absorb extreme amounts of nickel from soils. Such “phytomining” could help provide batteries essential for the renewable revolution.

Of the 350,000 known plant species, just 750 are “hyperaccumulators” that readily absorb sky-high amounts of metals and incorporate them into their tissues. Grow a bunch of the European plant Alyssum bertolonii or the tropical Phyllanthus rufuschaneyi and burn the biomass, and you end up with ash that’s loaded with nickel.

“In soil that contains roughly 5 percent nickel—that is pretty contaminated—you’re going to get an ash that’s about 25 to 50 percent nickel after you burn it down,” says Dave McNear, a rhizosphere biogeochemist at the University of Kentucky. “In comparison, where you mine it from the ground, from rock, that has about .02 percent nickel. So you are several orders of magnitude greater in enrichment, and it has far less impurities.”

Now the US government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, aka ARPA-E, wants in on the action. Today it’s announcing up to $10 million in funding to explore ways to use plants for extracting nickel from American soils. They’re calling the exploratory topic “Plant HYperaccumulators TO MIne Nickel-Enriched Soils,” or PHYTOMINES, encouraging partnerships between scientists, farmers, and the battery and mining industries. The idea is to find the right kind of hyperaccumulator—ideally a native North American species—that can grow quickly and suck up a lot of nickel. That could bolster the domestic supply of nickel, which the feds consider a “critical material”—an essential ingredient in the batteries that are themselves essential to the renewable revolution.
(more)

https://www.wired.com/story/the-feds-are-trying-to-get-plants-to-mine-metal-through-their-roots/

morganism

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Re: Mining rare-earth and other minerals
« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2024, 11:20:18 PM »
The toxic rare earth mining industry at the heart of the global green energy transition

China has long dominated the world's supply of heavy rare earths, minerals needed to build electric vehicles and wind turbines. Demand for these products is skyrocketing as we rush to meet climate goals, but there is a problem at the root of the supply chain.

The processes used to extract heavy rare earths are highly polluting, ravaging landscapes and poisoning waterways. As concerns over the environmental toll of extraction have grown in China over the past decade, more and more domestic mines have been shut down. Yet global demand is growing rapidly, and China remains the world's largest processor.

But with many of its own mines now closed, where is China's supply of these minerals coming from?


In 2014 Myanmar exported just $1.5M of rare earths to China

By 2021 this sum had reached $780M

A six-month investigation by Global Witness followed the outsourcing of this highly toxic industry across the Chinese border into Myanmar.

There, heavy rare earth mining has exploded so quickly that within just a few years a mountainous corner of Myanmar, known as Kachin Special Region 1, has become the world's largest source of supply. This region is a semi-autonomous territory run by militias that are affiliated to Myanmar's brutal military regime. The mining is illegal under Myanmar's laws, and hardly exists on paper.

Yet the damage that global demand for products manufactured by international companies is fuelling in this remote, lawless part of the world is all too real for the communities who are now risking their lives to defend their land.

https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/natural-resource-governance/myanmars-poisoned-mountains/

(snip)
Zau's job is to remove vegetation and drill holes into the mountains. Then ammonium sulphate solution is injected into the holes, effectively liquefying the earth. Once the chemicals have percolated through the mountainside, the solution is drained into bright blue collection pools, where minerals are precipitated out in a process called in-situ leaching.

After this mountain has been leached, Zau and his colleagues will abandon the contaminated site, moving to the next place and starting all over again.