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Flaring emissions dominate pollution from Beaver County’s Shell plant

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 14:50

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Flaring emissions dominate pollution from Beaver County’s Shell plant

ANYA LITVAK: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette alitvak@post-gazette.com: Jan 22 2023

September was a tumultuous month for the Shell chemical plant in Beaver County.

On Sept. 3, a missing O-ring in a circulation pump led to a leak of isobutane vapor. Two days later, brown emissions were seen coming out of high pressure ground flares — two metal combustion chambers that burn off unwanted gasses from the ethane cracker.

Three days after that, two separate flanges leaked hydrocarbons, and an ethylene refrigerant compressor tripped after it registered a high dew-point temperature. It tripped again two days later because of high vibration, which cascaded into a trip of several other systems.

On Sept.15, a calibration error caused a trip of the cracked gas compressor. In another three days, the propane refrigeration compressor stopped; three days after that, high methanol levels in the acetylene reactor caused that equipment to malfunction.

In December, the DEP said it was investigating Shell’s start-up process and its exceedance of its permit, which sets a rolling 12-month limit on emissions of certain pollutants.

When it was all done, Shell estimates it released two tons of benzene, a carcinogen that can also cause temporary health impacts from short-term exposure.

This event more than doubled Shell’s emissions of hazardous air pollutants in 2022, according to its monthly figures, which do not include the last two months of the year.

FULL ARTICLE

Flaring emissions dominate pollution from Beaver County’s Shell plant was first posted on January 23, 2023 at 11:50 pm.
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Majuba Hill drill results reveal longest intercept of copper mineralization at Nevada porphyry project

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 12:41

Majuba Hill Copper (CSE: JUBA) released on Monday the latest drill results on its namesake property in western Nevada.  

The company reported that 2022 core holes MHB-27 and MHB-28 intersected over 1,000 feet (304.8 meters) of plus 0.25% copper equivalent mineralization at the Majuba Hill porphyry copper project in Pershing County.

These are the longest copper mineralized intercepts ever drilled at Majuba. The mineralized intersections are directly correlative with porphyry-type vein density, pervasive porphyry-style alteration and multiple intrusive events, the company said in a news release.

The 2022 core drilling program focused on the Majuba Target Zone. The goal was to complete deeper holes and extend the copper mineralization intersected in the 2020 and 2021 drill campaigns.

Drill highlights from hole MHB-27: 1,136 ft (346.3 m) at 0.25% CuEQ starting at 710 ft (216.4 m) including 834 ft (254.2 m) at 0.31% CuEQ from 750 to 1,584 (228.6-482.8 m) and 119 ft (36.3 m) at 0.14% CuEQ from 1,727-1,846 ft (526.4-562.7m).

Highlights from MHB-28: 1,287 ft (392 m) at 0.30% CuEQ starting at 245 ft (74.7 m), including 652 ft (198.7 m) at 0.33% CuEQ from 595 to 1,247 ft, 192 ft (58.5 m) at 0.21% CuEQ from 1,340 to 1,532 ft and 105 ft (32 m) at 0.18% CuEQ from 1,542 to 1,647 ft. MHB-29 intersected granodiorite porphyry at 3,403 ft (1,037 m). The entire hole is mineralized with 3,607 ft (1,099.4 m) at 0.05% CuEQ from 0 to 3,607 ft.

Buster Hunsaker, consulting geologist for Majuba Hill, said an initial development scenario for the project in Pershing County would look at a starter oxide scenario with an open pit. But the porphyry potential at depth gets the experienced geologist excited.

 “It’s to come across something so obvious, stuck out of the ground like a mountain of metal, and to recognize it, see the geology develop and be part of the first people to bring that out. It took effort for the first ten years to recognize the porphyry copper potential,” Hunsaker told MINING.COM at a conference in San Diego in December.

Where Majuba Hill sticks out in the western Nevada plains implies that it is located on an underexplored copper belt in a segment where there aren’t many mines, despite a significant volume of historical work on the geology. The brownfield site has produced 2.6 billion lb. of copper on a historical basis.

The company believes that should it succeed in making a vital porphyry discovery, it could ideally play into the copper macro picture of a deficit of about 5 billion lb. of the red metal from about 2026 onwards.

“The tremendous thickness of copper mineralization confirms that Majuba Hill is a significant porphyry copper discovery in Nevada, one of the top three mining jurisdictions in the world,” Majuba Hill CEO David Greenway said in Monday’s statement.

“Copper mineralization from top to bottom also indicates that we have discovered a deposit which will have an impact on the copper supply for the world at a time when the world needs long-term, secure supplies for the future,” Greenway said.

“With our mineral inventory estimate announced September 20, 2022, showcasing the potential for 1.5 billion pounds of copper equivalent, we now have these game changing results in hand to expand on that estimate and ultimately contribute to the development of an NI 43-101 compliant copper resource.”

An updated property wide mineral inventory estimate is now underway.

Midday Monday, the Vancouver-based junior’s stock was down 1.8 % on the CSE. Trading volume had reached 234,368 by lunchtime, more than triple the average daily volume of 70,169, capitalizing Majuba Hill Copper at C$11.3 million ($8.4m).

Results hint at high-grade copper-gold in Beskauga project, Arras says 

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 11:38

Arras Minerals (TSXV: ARK) says drill results from three holes at its Beskauga copper-gold project in northeastern Kazakhstan suggest it holds high-grade zones.

Diamond drill hole Bg22012 returned 365 metres grading 0.54 gram gold per tonne, 0.4% copper, 2 grams silver per tonne and 35.3 million parts per million (ppm) molybdenum (0.9% copper-equivalent or 1.06 grams gold-equivalent) starting from 41 metres downhole, Arras said in a news release on Monday.

“Drilling at Beskauga continues to deliver near-surface, broad intervals of significant copper-gold mineralization,” Arras CEO Tim Barry said in the release. “These grades are indicative of high-grade zones found throughout the deposit which we continue to review as we explore for the core of this very extensive system.”

The 63-sqkm project about 300 km east-northeast of the capital, Astana, is subject to a four-year option-to-purchase agreement signed in 2020 with private Swiss company Copperbelt AG. The agreement requires Vancouver-based Arras to spend $15 million on exploration over the term before Arras can buy all of Beskauga for $15 million more.

Hole Bg22012 included 29 metres grading 0.6 gram gold, 0.5% copper, 2.1 grams silver and 31.8 ppm molybdenum (1% copper equivalent or 1.2 grams gold-equivalent) from 87 metres down-hole.

The same hole also cut 64 metres grading 1.8 grams gold, 1% copper, 4.6 grams silver and 66.5 ppm molybdenum (2.6% copper-equivalent or 3.2 grams gold-equivalent) from 120 metres depth; and 30 metres grading 2.95 grams gold, 1.5% copper, 6.2 grams silver and 63.8 ppm molybdenum (4% copper-equivalent or 4.8 grams gold equivalent from 120 metres downhole.

Hole Bg21010 outside of the Beskauga main deposit intersected “strong advanced argillic to argillic alteration and local zones of copper-gold mineralization,” showing the potential for concealed porphyry-style mineralization in the thick volcano-sedimentary package that is separated from Beskauga main by a northwest to southeast fault zone, Arras said.

It began a 30,000-metre diamond drill program in October 2021. More assay results are expected in the coming months, Arras said.

The Beskauga deposit has an indicated mineral resource of 111.2 million tonnes grading 0.5 gram gold per tonne, 0.3% copper and 1.3 grams silver for 1.75 million oz. of contained gold, 333,600 tonnes copper and 4.79 million oz. silver.

Inferred resources add 92.6 million tonnes grading 0.5 gram gold, 0.2% copper and 1.1 gram silver for 1.49 million oz. of contained gold, 222,200 tonnes copper and 3.39 million oz. silver. The resource estimate was completed in December 2021.

Beskauga lies 130 km west of KAZ Minerals’ Bozshakol porphyry-copper-gold mine, one of the country’s largest. Beskauga is near the town of Ekibastuz, which serves the largest coal mine in Kazakhstan and provides a trained workforce for Arras. Paved road access, power lines, a heavy rail line and an irrigation canal all lie within a 25-km radius of the project.

British Columbia spent $13.6 billion on mineral exploration in 2022, says Premier

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 11:36

British Columbia had record spending on mineral exploration in 2022 and there are eight new mines or mine expansions in the queue, Premier David Eby said Monday at the opening of the Association of Mineral Exploration (AME) Roundup conference in Vancouver.

Eby said there was C$740 million spent in mineral exploration in B.C. in 2022 – a record – and mineral production in B.C. is also expected to be a record: C$18.2 billion ($13.6bn).

That’s a C$4.3 billion increase over 2021. That increase in value over 2021 was largely due to high metallurgical coal prices, said Gordon Clarke of the BC Geological Survey’s development office. Steelmaking coal prices hit a high of $670 per tonne last year, and remains relatively high at close to $300 per tonne.

B.C. has seven operating metallurgical coal mines.

Eby said there was an 84% increase in copper exploration in 2022, much of that concentrated in northwest B.C. in the so-called Golden Triangle.

Copper is among the critical minerals identified in Canada’s new federal Critical Minerals Strategy as key to both the digital economy and the energy transition, and it’s one mineral B.C. has in relative abundance. B.C. is Canada’s biggest copper producer.

Jonathan Price, new CEO for Teck Resources (TSX:TECK.B), which operates the Highland Valley Copper mine, said the estimated global demand for copper will grow by 4.7 million tonnes by 2030, thanks to the increased demand from the energy transition and greater urbanization.

“To put that into perspective, Teck’s Highland Valley Copper mine here in B.C. is Canada’s largest copper mine,” Price said. “Four-point-seven million tonnes would be the equivalent of building another 35 Highland Valley Copper mines in just seven years.”

But it can take a decade or two to take a new mine from discovery to production. Eby said a commitment he has made to speed up permitting for housing should also speed things up for resource industries like exploration and mining as well.

“For decades, our province has had a slow and complicated permitting process system,” Eby said.

The province is investing in new staff to work in permitting and to streamline the system.

“I want you to know these same investments have impacts on your industry as well,” Eby said.

Eby also said he has asked his new energy and mines minister, Josie Osborne, to expedite a provincial critical minerals strategy.

Eby warned that the political landscape is changing, as a result of government commitments to reconciliation with First Nations. For one thing, the Mineral Tenure Act is likely going to have to be amended as a result of what Eby called “a very serious legal challenge” by First Nations.

First Nations pressing for changes to the act want to be notified when anyone files a mineral claim in their traditional territory. That has created some concerns for prospectors who consider mineral claims a form of intellectual property, and therefore like to keep claims secret.

“I want to assure you that our government is committed to finding a way forward to address this issue,” Eby said. “We will be engaging with you as an industry to make sure that the regime works for you. But we will also be doing it in partnership with First Nations in our province.”

The NDP government has recently struck agreements with First Nations that essentially make them co-regulators. A consent based decision making framework developed with the Tahltan First Nation last year is one example. Expect to see more such agreements going forward, Eby said.

He urged prospectors and exploration companies to work with First Nations to gain their consent when doing exploration and prospecting in their traditional territories.

“The very first contact that nations have around economic development or a particular proposal in their community is your industry,” Eby said. “You set the tone. So if it’s a constructive and collaborative tone at the beginning, that leads to greater success down the road with mine development.”

(This article first appeared in Business in Vancouver)

Marimaca Copper infill drilling yields best results to date at oxide deposit in Chile

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 09:22

Marimaca Copper (TSX: MARI) has released the final batch of reverse circulation (RC) drill results from last year’s infill drilling campaign at the Marimaca oxide deposit (MOD) in northern Chile, including the best copper intersection drilled to date on a grade-times-width basis.

The latest drilling focused on the northern and central zones of the Marimaca deposit, following up on previous 2022 infill results that identified high-grade green oxide zones in the northern portion, which was previously interpreted to be lower-grade copper mineralization.

The new results – reflecting 2,766 metres of drilling across 13 drill holes – are expected to have positive implications for average grade in northern area of the deposit for the updated mineral resource estimate (MRE) planned for the first half of 2023, Marimaca says.

The highlighted drill hole LAR-109 intersected 308 metres at 0.94% total copper from 32 metres, including 186 metres at 1.37% total copper from 154 metres, and including 26 metres at 4.83% total copper from 202 metres.

“The final results of the 2022 infill RC program mark the completion of an exceptionally successful year at the MOD. Grades intersected in the northern MOD continue to surprise us to the upside, while results from LAR-109, the best hole we have drilled to date at the MOD, highlights the continuity of higher-grade copper mineralization in the central MOD,” Sergio Rivera, VP exploration of Marimaca Copper, commented in a news release.

Other notable results include TAR-37, which intersected 62 metres at 1.02% total copper from 2 metres, including 28 metres at 1.84% total copper from 2 metres; and ATR-167, which intersected 46 metres at 1.23% total copper from 180 metres within a broader intersection of 76 metres at 0.79% total copper from 150 metres.

The balance of the 2022 infill drilling program will be included in a subsequent MRE planned for the first half of 2023, with the objective of converting inferred resources to the measured and indicated categories to underpin a definitive feasibility study (DFS).

“Today’s results improve our confidence in the potential for upside in the planned 2023 MRE – as discussed previously, the higher-grade nature of mineralization identified in the northern MOD vs. the current interpolation of grades has positive implications for Marimaca’s mineral inventory,” added Rivera, who was responsible for the the initial discovery of the oxide deposit.

Since its original discovery in 2016, Marimaca has nearly doubled the oxide resource totals, now estimated at nearly 140 million tonnes at 0.48% total copper for 665,500 tonnes of contained copper in the measured and indicated category, plus 83 million tonnes at 0.39% total copper for 322,900 tonnes of contained copper.

The company is now finalizing plans for the H1 2023 exploration program that will follow up on drill hole MAD-22, which intersected primary sulphides (dominantly chalcopyrite) downdip of the MOD (92 metres at 2.11% total copper from 140 metres, including 22 metres at 5.27% total copper).

Shares of Marimaca Copper rose 4.1% by 12:20 p.m. ET Monday. The company has a market capitalization of C$317.6 million ($237.3m).

Scientists develop efficient solution to monitor airborne mercury

Mining.Com - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 06:06

New research conducted at the University of Nevada, Reno, verified that new technologies measure airborne mercury pollution far more accurately than the older systems that have been in widespread use for decades.

In a paper published in the journal Science of the Total Environment, the scientists explain that older technology under-measures mercury concentrations by as much as 80%.

Mercury enters the atmosphere from small-scale gold mining, coal-burning power plants, cement manufacturers and other industrial operations. It is carried worldwide.

As mercury is spread through the air, it is deposited into soil and water, where it enters the food chain. Mercury-contaminated fish pose a health risk to humans. So does mercury-contaminated rice. High levels of mercury concentration affect the reproduction of birds and other wildlife and take a silent death toll.

Despite well-documented knowledge of the environmental risks, the lack of accurate technology to measure airborne mercury pollution has hampered efforts to set global standards to reduce the threat.

Given this state of affairs and the fact that they have been conducting research on this topic since 2013, scientists Mae Gustin and Jiaoyan Huang started doing experiments and tested four air-sampling systems that used newer measurement technology, along with one of the older devices.

In their recent paper, they report that the newer systems, which rely on nylon or polyethersulfone membranes to capture airborne mercury, are much more accurate than older systems. One version of the technology used in two of the new systems that were tested was developed by the team led by Gustin at the University of Nevada, Reno; the technology used in the two other new systems was developed at Utah State University.

Gustin noted that researchers are now fine-tuning the materials used to create the membranes employed in the new measurement systems.

“Membranes are easy to collect and analyze and are easily deployed,” she said. “This would be a viable method for many researchers. The new membrane samplers have been deployed for testing at more than a dozen locations across the world—from Peavine Peak outside Reno to Svalbard in far-northern Norway, and from Amsterdam Island in the Indian Ocean to the shores of the Great Salt Lake in Utah—to gather further information in collaboration with international scientists. This is how science evolves.”

Spain’s export credit agency restricts fossil fuel finance, but leaves major gas loopholes

Oil Change International - Mon, 01/23/2023 - 05:30

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: 

  • Adam McGibbon, adam.mcgibbon [at] priceofoil.org
  • Pedro Zorrilla Miras, pzmiras [at] greenpeace.org

 

Spain’s export credit agency restricts fossil fuel finance, but leaves major gas loopholes 

  • Spain has released a new policy for CESCE, the Spanish government export credit agency, restricting public finance for oil and gas
  • Spain is a major public financier of international fossil fuel projects, providing USD 2.1 billion a year between 2018-20 to fossil fuels, and USD 47 million per year to clean energy, or 97.8% to fossil fuels and just 2.2% to clean energy.
  • Loopholes include support for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) processing, transportation and storage, as well as a widely-defined loophole for gas power that could mean gas power plants could be approved in most developing countries 
  • Policy falls short of a major pledge Spain made at the 2021 COP26 UN climate summit to stop financing fossil fuel projects. 

Spain has joined a growing list of countries implementing new policies to restrict international finance for oil and gas to implement a key climate pledge. At the UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021, alongside 38 other countries and institutions, Spain pledged to end international public finance for fossil fuels by the end of 2022 and shift this money to clean energy. However, Spain’s new policy (English translation here) released by the Spanish export credit agency CESCE falls short of the Spanish Government’s commitment to end all financing for fossil fuels with only limited exemptions in line with the 1.5°C climate goal.

If all signatories follow through on their pledges with integrity, this will directly shift USD 28 billion a year from fossil fuels to clean energy and help shift even larger sums of public and private money away from investments in climate-harming fossil fuels. Spain would have accounted for a significant share of this shift if it had delivered on its pledge with integrity. Analysis shows that from 2018-20, Spain provided an average per year of USD 2.1 billion to international fossil fuel projects and only USD 47 million to clean energy – 2.2% of its support went to clean energy and 97.8% of its support went to fossil fuels. This is one of the most lopsided fossil-to-clean-energy ratios amongst high-income countries. The vast majority of Spain’s international energy finance came via CESCE.

Although the CESCE policy ends support for oil and gas extraction and refining (coal support was already prohibited), the policy contains a loophole that allows liquefaction, regasification, transportation, processing, storage, and distribution of Liquified Natural Gas to continue. This loophole is of particular significance given that LNG infrastructure receives the largest share of international public finance globally.

LNG is fossil gas that is cooled to -162°C, in order to reduce its volume and allow it to be shipped across oceans, to new markets, where it is again regasified. This process makes gas more widely available geographically, creating new markets, creating more fossil fuel demand, and enabling more upstream gas development. Like other forms of fossil gas, LNG is damaging for the climate, leaking methane throughout the supply chain, which is 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is emitted. But LNG also requires extra energy-intensive processing, adding a significant amount to the full lifecycle emissions of producing and using gas.

Recognizing these impacts, the International Energy Agency (IEA) net-zero scenario that maintains a 50% chance to limit global warming to 1.5°C not only has no investments in new oil fields, but also not in gas fields, nor in new LNG infrastructure

In addition, the CESCE policy allows continued support for gas power, where gas power plants can still be approved in low-income countries if they meet a number of conditions, including fitting into the climate plans of a developing country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the climate plans that countries must submit to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In reality, gas power will fit into the NDCs of most developing countries, despite the climate harm and fossil fuel lock-in they will cause. Science suggests that emissions from already-existing fossil fuel power infrastructure puts the 1.5C target in jeopardy. In addition, gas is not a solution to the energy access problem in low-income countries. Of the 800 million people worldwide who are lacking electricity, 85% live in rural areas where distributed renewable energy is, in most cases, better able to provide electrification at a lower cost.

All in all, the CESCE policy is not up to the standards of the policies released by fellow signatories, including France, the UK, and Canada.

Although the policy contains a commitment to reduce CESCE’s exposure to the hydrocarbon industry by 75% by 2035 (from 2020 levels), no milestones are provided between now and 2035 that will guide the exposure reduction and this 2035 target does not guarantee that no climate-incompatible gas expansion would be financed in the meantime.

 

Pedro Zorrilla Miras, Climate Change Campaigner at Greenpeace Spain, said:

“The alleged climate leadership of the government of President Sánchez vanishes when we see how Spain wants to continue financing gas infrastructure in the world. It is absolutely unacceptable to fund climate catastrophe with money from taxpayers.”

 

Adam McGibbon, Public Finance Strategist at Oil Change International, said:

“This new policy breaks Spain’s promise to stop funding fossils. Although it restricts CESCE’s oil and gas finance, it leaves significant loopholes. Scientists are clear that there is no room for new LNG infrastructure if we are to have a chance of meeting climate goals, but CESCE’s policy gives the green light for public finance to LNG to continue. Spain can still keep its promise, but it must close the LNG and gas power loopholes in CESCE’s policy.”

 

NOTES

  • The Glasgow Statement was launched at the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 26) in Glasgow. The 39 signatories (full list here) aim to “end new direct public support for the international unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022” and instead “prioritise our support fully towards the clean energy transition.” 
  • Oil Change International has compiled this implementation tracker that outlines country-level progress on implementation of the Glasgow Statement, which will be regularly updated in the lead up to and during COP27.
  • Oil Change International’s Public Finance for Energy Database shows that G20 countries and the major multilateral development banks (MDBs) provided at least USD 55 billion per year in international public finance for oil, gas, and coal projects between 2019 and 2021, almost two times more than their support for renewable energy. 
  • In its latest report, the IPCC highlighted public finance for fossil fuels as ‘severely misaligned’ with reaching the Paris goals, but that if shifted, it could play a critical role in closing the mitigation finance gap, enabling emission reductions and a just transition. More background on the role international public finance plays in shaping energy systems is available in this Oil Change International briefing
  • A legal opinion by Professor Jorge E Viñuales from the University of Cambridge and Barrister Kate Cook of Matrix Chambers argues that governments and public finance institutions that continue to finance fossil fuel infrastructure are potentially at risk of climate litigation.
  • In May 2022, 122 civil society organizations sent letters to signatories to the Glasgow Statement calling on them to meet their commitment. Letters to Germany, Italy, Canada, France, the US, and other non-G7 countries can be found here.

The post Spain’s export credit agency restricts fossil fuel finance, but leaves major gas loopholes appeared first on Oil Change International.

Argentinian lawyers call for annulment of provincial lithium law

Mining.Com - Sun, 01/22/2023 - 11:52

The Argentine Institute of Mining Law (IADEM) is calling for the annulment of Law N°10.608, which declared lithium and its derivatives as strategic natural resources in La Rioja province and which prioritizes state companies when it comes to the exploitation of the battery metal.

The call follows the unilateral approval and publication, by the provincial government, of the Law on January 17, 2023, right after having suspended, for 120 days, all exploration permits and concessions previously granted to private companies.

According to the Institute, La Rioja has gone beyond its competencies by suspending and establishing causes for nullity of search, prospecting and exploration permits and concessions in the provincial territory.  

In a communiqué, IADEM also noted that Law N°10.608 collides with and undermines the existing Mining Code, which establishes that decisions regarding Argentina’s mineral endowment are delegated by the provinces to the national government, in agreement with article 75 of the Constitution. 

In addition to this, “the Mining Code regulates, among others, the mechanisms for the acquisition, maintenance and termination of mining rights (exploration and concession permits, among others). This means that the Province of La Rioja cannot just decide to rule on these matters,” the media statement reads.

The Institute also pointed out that the province doesn’t have the right to monopolize the mining business. 

“It is worth remembering that article 346 and the ones that follow in the Mining Code clearly establish that the role of the State is limited to prospecting (on its own or through third parties) and that the development of mining operations, including exploitation, has to be performed by private companies to whom – generally speaking – mines should be transferred, even those mines discovered by government agencies,” the release states.

In La Rioja, Canada’s Origen Resources has a permit to explore the 48,325-hectare Los Sapitos project, a new lithium exploration target within a prospective tectonic corridor.

Two other provinces, Jujuy and Catamarca have entered the lithium rush, with the former hosting the Sales de Jujuy project where the provincial government holds an 8.5% stake, together with Australia’s Orocobre (67.5%) and Toyota Tsuho (25%).

In Catamarca, on the other hand, Livent Corporation leads the Fénix project, an integrated brine extraction and lithium processing facility located in the Salar del Hombre Muerto.

Data from the Argentinian Chamber of Mining Companies state that the country hosts 21% of the world’s lithium reserves and together with Bolivia (24%) and Chile (11%), is part of the so-called Lithium Triangle. 

The risks of plundering the periodic table

Mining.Com - Sun, 01/22/2023 - 05:55

A recent paper published in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution estimates that humans are heading toward a situation where 80% of the resources we use are from non-biological sources.

Written by researchers at the Ecological and Forestry Applications Research Centre, the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the article notes that in 1900, approximately 80% of the resources humans used came from biomass (wood, plants, food, etc.). That figure had fallen to 32% by 2005 and is expected to stand at approximately 22% in 2050.

Non-biological resources, however, are scarce or practically absent in living organisms, and rare in general; in many cases, their main reserves are located in just a handful of countries.

These resources must be obtained from geological sources, which entails extraction, trade between countries, and the development of efficient recycling technologies, while their scarcity and location create the potential for social, economic, geopolitical and environmental conflicts.

Squeezing the periodic table

The study looks back at the history of humankind in relation to its use of the periodic table’s elements.

“Humans have gone from using common materials, such as clay, stone and lime, the components of which are constantly recycled in the ground, in nature and in the atmosphere, to using lots of other elements, notably including those known as rare earth elements,” Jordi Sardans, CREAF researcher and co-author of the study, said in a media statement.

According to the article, the human elementome, which is a range of chemical elements humans need, and the biological elementome, which is the set of chemical elements that nature requires, started to diverge in the decade of the 1900s, a result of continuous growth of the use of non-biomass materials such as fossil fuels, metallic/industrial materials, and building materials.

Elements used in construction, transport, industry, and more recently, new technologies, such as computation and photovoltaic devices and mobile phones, were added to the human elementome over the course of the 20th century.

They include silicon, nickel, copper, chromium and gold, as well as others that are less common, such as samarium, ytterbium, yttrium and neodymium. In the past two decades, there has been an increase in the use of such scarce elements, owing to the implementation and expansion of new technologies and clean energy sources.

“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.”

Risks and opportunities

According to Peñuelas and his colleagues, the extraction of earth’s chemical elements could be a limiting factor and lead to crises at every level.

Using more of the periodic table’s elements involves the extraction of more minerals, rising energy consumption and the associated CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the growing scarcity of the resources in question is a threat to their availability, especially where poorer countries are concerned, and makes maintaining production difficult even for wealthy countries, thus affecting economic development.

Against this backdrop, there are also important and problematic geopolitical considerations.

The natural reserves of some minerals and metals, including rare earth elements, are located in a limited number of countries (China, Vietnam, Brazil, the US, Russia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo); China actually controls over 90% of the global supply and close to 40% of reserves. Their availability is therefore subject to fluctuations in supply and prices caused by opposing geopolitical interests, with the consequent danger of conflicts.

The authors stress the need to put an end to programmed obsolescence, which is the policy of planning or designing a product to have an artificially limited useful life, as well as to develop new technologies that contribute to more profitable use of scarce elements and allow for their widespread, efficient recycling and reuse.

Shell and SSE worst for energy customer satisfaction, says Which?

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Sat, 01/21/2023 - 15:30

proactiveinvestors.co.uk

Shell and SSE worst for energy customer satisfaction, says Which?

Jai Singh: 13:15 Fri 20 Jan 2023

SSE Energy Services and Shell are among the lowest-rated energy suppliers, according to a Which? survey.

Surveying more than 10,000 customers and covering 16 suppliers in Great Britain last October, the consumer choice researcher ranked Shell and SSE jointly next to the bottom in its assessment score.

FULL ARTICLE

 

 

Shell and SSE worst for energy customer satisfaction, says Which? was first posted on January 22, 2023 at 12:30 am.
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Glencore halts operations in Peru due to violent protests

Mining.Com - Sat, 01/21/2023 - 14:03

Following Friday’s attack that set on fire a worker housing area, Glencore announced that it has halted operations at the Antapaccay copper mine in southern Peru.

In a media statement, the company said that yesterday’s incidents endangered the safety of its employees and, therefore, authorities should start taking action to safeguard people’s integrity and private property rights. 

According to the Swiss miner, a group of citizens from the Espinar province, where Antapaccay is located, arrived at the site Friday noon and demanded that operations be stopped and that the firm issue a communiqué asking for the resignation of Peruvian President Dina Boluarte.

Next, some of the people forced their entry into different mine facilities, stole workers’ belongings, and set the housing area on fire. Two and a half hours later, the protesters left the site.

“The emergency and security teams are working to guarantee the safety of the employees that remain in the operation, as well as to extinguish the fires. So far no injuries have been reported,” the press release states.

Prior to this incident, Glencore’s mine, one of the country’s largest, was operating only with 38% of its workforce due to protests. Less than a week ago, ​​activists broke into Antapaccay’s water plant and set the facility on fire. The plant provides drinking water to over 6,000 people in nearby communities.

Given the number of attacks that have taken place in the first half of January, which also include roadblocks, the mine halted the shipping of copper concentrate. MMG’s Las Bambas, which shares with Antapaccay the same highway access to ports, followed suit. 

Unrest has rattled Peru since the ouster and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo late last year. Protest leaders are demanding a general election.

According to Bloomberg, the disruption is threatening to choke off access to almost $4 billion worth of red metal. 

This comes at a particularly precarious moment for copper markets as inventories stand at historically low levels while miners warn demand is poised to skyrocket with the growing electrification of vehicles.

ChatGPT doesn’t know where the world’s copper comes from, AI images show mining stuck in the Great Depression

Mining.Com - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 13:55

There’s no shortage of breathless reports about the latest advances in artificial intelligence ushering in the 4th industrial revolution (whatever that is) and changing the world of work forever. 

Even the most skilled workers are supposed to fear for their jobs as chatbots like ChatGPT answer questions and solve problems that would take humans hours or days, instantly. Likewise, image generators like Midjourney can interpret our world and provide cutting edge visuals on any topic or peer into the future.   

Time to meet your new robot overlords.

A simple prompt to OpenAIs ChatGPT suggests machine learning needs a bit more study time. The same question was asked multiple times and weeks apart in case the millions of conversations since the natural language bot was opened to the public may have taught it something. 

It still got the simplest of questions on mining’s most important metal wrong. 

A quick crosscheck with the USGS bible finds not only the country level production volumes to be wrong (China has never produced more than 2 million tonnes in a year, the Chile figure is off by a half a million tonnes) but there is also a glaring omission. 

Where is the Congo? If the fact the USGS uses “Congo (Kinshasa)” to name the country threw it off, it’s a rudimentary mistake. The DRC produced 1.6m tonnes in 2020 – that’s a lot of metal to go missing. 

Source: OpenAI ChatGPT

The confidence with which it relays the mistake and the certainty with which it sources the wrong answer from a trustworthy source is, to put it mildly, disconcerting. 

Let’s hope no-one in Washington is using ChatGPT to craft critical minerals strategies or global trade policy. (They most certainly are – ed.)

At the moment, image generators like Stable Diffusion, Dall-E and Midjourney are probably just a threat to the jobs of graphic artists and game designers, but the visuals created shows up AI’s distorted view of the mining industry and mineworkers.

The prompt to Stable Diffusion of “A group of miners get ready for the morning shift at a copper mine in the USA” produced the horrors below and changing it to “modern copper mine” altered little other than to add colour and update the hard hats.

Even if you ignore the warped faces, the general demeanour and ragged clothing the images still evokes dirt poor and exploited labourers similar to the many news photos from the Great Depression. 

Source: Stable Diffusion

Using the same prompt, Midjourney also thinks mining is the most depressing job in the world, performed by despairing old men assembling in gloomy bunkers ahead of a punishing day on the job.

Several iterations paint the exact same picture, all with the same New York mining disaster 1941 vibe.  

If nothing else, these images show the mining industry has a massive public perception problem and enticing young people to join the industry is, well, not a job that can be left to artificial intelligence.

Source: Midjourney

Shell to spend $450m on carbon offsetting as fears grow that credits may be worthless

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 13:39

theguardian.com/uk

Shell to spend $450m on carbon offsetting as fears grow that credits may be worthless

The fossil fuel firm Shell has set aside more than $450m (£367m) to invest in carbon offsetting projects, and plans to spend the equivalent of half the current market for nature offsets every year, the Guardian can reveal.

But a joint investigation by the Guardian, Die Zeit and Source Material into Verra, the world’s leading carbon standard for the rapidly growing $2bn voluntary offsets market, has found, based on analysis of a significant percentage of the projects, that more than 90% of their rainforest offset credits – among the most commonly used by companies – are likely to be “phantom credits” and do not represent genuine carbon reductions.

FULL ARTICLE

Shell to spend $450m on carbon offsetting as fears grow that credits may be worthless was first posted on January 20, 2023 at 10:39 pm.
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Canaccord bullish on gold price, Endeavour, Kinross and Probe

Mining.Com - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 12:46

Investment bank Canaccord Genuity is upbeat on the gold price and production margins as recession looms and the United States dollar retreats. It also picks Endeavour Mining (TSX: EDV; LSE: EDV), Kinross (TSX: K; NYSE: KGC) and Probe Metals (TSXV: PRB) among its top Canadian equity performers this year.

The gold price may hit an average of $1,862 per oz. this year, up from its record average of $1,802 an oz. in 2022 but down from its current spot price around $1,925 per oz, analysts with the Vancouver-based company said in a forecast released Thursday.

“We’re bullish,” Canaccord said as it considered how efforts to curtail decades-high inflation are expected to slow the economy while the US dollar has fallen 10% from a 20-year high in September, both factors that typically drive gold prices higher.

US inflation slowed to 6.5% in Dec. from 9.1% in June and the market expects the US Federal Reserve to prevent its benchmark interest rate rising above 5% this year after measures of employment and manufacturing declined.

“These headwinds look to have largely run their course with inflation and the economy slowing,” the bank said. “Gold and gold equities have more room to run ahead of a potential Fed pause and with a non-trivial chance of a recession emerging.”

The bank projected average all-in sustaining costs (AISC) for miners to fall 2% to $1,265 an oz. after supply costs hit their highest in last year’s third quarter and oil prices have fallen 14% from an average of $95 per barrel in 2022.

“Most producers indicate that input cost inflation appears to have peaked,” Canaccord said. “We forecast AISC margins improving 17% to $597 an oz. in 2023.”

Canaccord also projected silver rising to $24.38 an oz. this year and platinum advancing to $1,084 per ounce. It increased its long-term gold price estimate to $2,048 per oz. in 2026 versus $1,922 per oz. previously. It raised its long-term silver price to $26.97 per oz. in 2026 from $23 an ounce. 

Ticks boxes

Canaccord chose Endeavour Mining as a top stock pick among senior producers because it “ticks all the boxes” with strong execution, balance sheet and capital return. It has also fully funded growth and has an inexpensive valuation of 0.6 times net asset value versus a peer average of 0.74 times. Endeavour’s Lafigué project under construction in Côte d’Ivoire should increase company output to as much as 1.6 million oz. by 2025 from 1.3 million oz. last year, the bank said.

Kinross Gold is another leading pick among senior producers due to its steady annual production of about 2 million oz., reduced risk after leaving Russia, the potential of 500,000 oz. a year in output from the Great Bear project in Ontario by 2028 and an attractive valuation of 0.49 times net asset value, the analysts said.

In the intermediate space, Canaccord likes SSR Mining (TSX: SSRM; NASDAQ: SSRM; ASX: SSR) as a defensive stock and Fortuna Silver Mines (TSX: FVI; NYSE: FVI) as an offensive choice. It chose Orezone Gold (TSX: ORE) as its top junior, upgrading its rating to buy from spec buy because it moved to producer status in Dec. with the declaration of commercial production at its Bomboré gold mine in Burkina Faso, 85 km east of the capital of Ouagadougou.

“We like SSRM for its operating prowess, emerging value at each of the assets, strong balance sheet and capital return program, capable management team, and attractive relative valuation,” Canaccord said. “Orezone has done an admirable job advancing Bomboré into commercial production on time and on budget.”

Triples resources

The bank ranks Probe Metals with its Novador project near Val-d’Or, Quebec, as the best gold explorer. The company’s proposed open-pit and underground operation may produce more than 200,000 oz. a year with a 33% internal rate of return assuming a gold price of $1,500 an ounce, according to a 2021 preliminary economic assessment. Probe recently tripled resources from Novador’s Monique deposit, one of three on the site.

“Management strength is another key to our thesis, with CEO David Palmer, winner of PDAC’s 2015 Bill Dennis Award and the Northern Miner’s 2014 Mining Person of the Year, and chairman Jamie Sokalsky, former Barrick CEO, leading much of the same team involved in their success with Probe Mines, which was acquired by Goldcorp for C$526 million at a significant premium back in 2015.”

Among streaming and royalty companies, Canaccord recommends Wheaton Precious Metals (TSX: WPM; NYSE: WPM) and intermediate Osisko Gold Royalties (TSX: OR; NYSE: OR). Wheaton should surpass rival Franco-Nevada (TSX: FNV; NYSE: FNV) in gold-equivalent output by 2025 and has a strong balance sheet of $500 million, no debt and access to $2 billion in credit, the bank said. It expects Osisko to grow production by 37% during 2022-27 as output starts or increases at the San Antonio, Cariboo and Windfall projects.

Canaccord lowered its rating on Newmont (TSX: NGT; NYSE: NEM) and Alamos Gold (TSX: AGI; NYSE: AGI) to hold from buy on valuation. It upgraded Coeur Mining (NYSE: CDE) to hold from sell.

Investors, who had to cope last year with inflation at 40-year highs, the most hawkish Fed in more than a decade, a surging American dollar and the conflict in Ukraine, now must consider the balance of interest rates and a potential recession, Canaccord said.

“One of the biggest questions among investors for 2023 is whether the Fed can pull off a soft landing or whether a recession ensues,” the bank said. “A potential recession scenario would likely force the Fed to cut rates sooner given the intensity of hikes to date which we would also view as positive for gold.”

Environmental Health Fellowship Opening – Summer 2023

FracTracker - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 10:31

This paid, remote fellowship will provide a graduate student with the opportunity to deepen their academic understanding of environmental issues affecting the heavily-fracked region of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The post Environmental Health Fellowship Opening – Summer 2023 appeared first on FracTracker Alliance.

B2Gold meets production guidance for seventh year running

Mining.Com - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 10:08

B2Gold (TSX: BTO) produced 1.03 million oz. gold last year with 367,870 oz. or about 36% of the total coming from the fourth quarter.

Annual production, which included 54,871 oz. of attributable production from Calibre Mining (TSX: CXB), was within B2Gold’s production guidance for the year of 990,000-1.05 million oz. and marked the seventh consecutive year that the company has met or exceeded guidance.

Of its three operating mines — Fekola in Mali, Masbate in the Philippines and Otjikoto in Namibia — Fekola was the stand-out, with record fourth-quarter production of 244,014 oz. and full-year production of 598,661 ounces. High-grade ore from Fekola’s open pit Phase 6 resulted in monthly production records in October and November.

The company expects its 2022 cash operating costs will be in the upper end of its original guidance of $620-$660 per oz., while total consolidated all-in-sustaining costs will come within its guidance range of $1,010-$1,050 per ounce.

This year B2Gold expects total production of 1.0-1.08 million oz., including 60,000-70,000 oz. of attributable production from Calibre Mining, in which it holds a 25% stake.

It forecasts total consolidated cash operating costs this year of $670-$730 per oz., up from 2022 due to inflation. AISCs are forecast to run to $1,195-$1,255 per ounce in 2023.

The company is allocating $64 million for exploration this year, with a focus on areas near its operating mines. But it will also continue to explore its early-stage projects in Finland and Cote d’Ivoire.

Management notes that it also will be working on “target generation and pursuing new opportunities” in gold regions in Africa, South America, the Philippines, Central Asia and Canada.

As natural gas expands in Gulf, residents fear rising damage

Fuel Fix - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 09:06

Lydia Larce has what she calls “storm PTSD.”

House votes to block China from buying oil from US reserves

Fuel Fix - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 09:02

The measure is the first in a series of GOP proposals aimed at “unleashing American energy production.''

Gold price backs off on rising dollar, but set for fifth weekly rise

Mining.Com - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 08:57

Gold prices edged lower on Friday as the US dollar firmed, although hopes of slower rate hikes from the Federal Reserve are still keeping bullion on track for a fifth straight weekly gain.

Spot gold slipped 0.3% to $1,925.25 per ounce by 11:40 a.m. ET, still enough to maintain a slight gain of 0.7% for the week. US gold futures, on the other hand, moved 0.2% higher at $1,927.70 per ounce.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

Meanwhile, the dollar rose 0.3% against its rivals, making gold more expensive for holders of other currencies.

“The US dollar is finding some form of stability and in turn we could see gold prices heading lower into next week,” Daniel Ghali, commodity strategist at TD Securities, told Reuters.

However, recent US economic readings and hawkish remarks from Fed policymakers have fuelled worries over a global slowdown and prompted investors to seek refuge in the safe haven metal.

Commentary from Fed officials has pointed to a terminal rate above 5%, but traders still bet on rates peaking at 4.9% by June and see a 93.7% chance for a 25-basis point rate hike in February.

While there here has been an accumulation of gold by various central banks and agencies, gold ETFs held by individuals have been decreasing. Were ETF buying to return, that would limit any overbought dip in the metal, said Caesar Bryan, gold portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds.

(With files from Reuters)

Read more: Gold price seen rising towards record highs as rate rises near end

Scientists working towards superconductors that allow current to flow without energy loss

Mining.Com - Fri, 01/20/2023 - 07:01

Physicists at Leipzig University are proposing the idea that in superconducting copper-oxygen bonds, called cuprates, there must be a very specific charge distribution between the copper and the oxygen, even under pressure.

This more profound understanding of the mechanism behind superconductors is expected to bring them one step closer to their goal of developing the foundations for a theory for superconductors that would allow current to flow without resistance and without energy loss.

Back in 2016, lead researcher Jürgen Haase and his team developed an experimental method based on magnetic resonance. The technique allows for measuring changes that are relevant to superconductivity in the structure of materials.

The group was the first in the world to identify a measurable material parameter that predicts the maximum possible transition temperature – a condition required to achieve superconductivity at room temperature. Now they have discovered that cuprates, which under pressure enhance superconductivity, follow the charge distribution predicted in 2016.

“The fact that the transition temperature of cuprates can be enhanced under pressure has puzzled researchers for 30 years. But until now we didn’t know which mechanism was responsible for this,” Haase said in a media statement.

“We established the Leipzig Relation, which says that you have to take electrons away from the oxygen in these materials and give them to the copper in order to increase the transition temperature. You can do this with chemistry, but also with pressure. But hardly anyone would have thought that we could measure all of this with nuclear resonance.”

Closer to the dream

In a paper published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the scientists explain that their current research finding could be exactly what is needed to produce a superconductor at room temperature, which has been the dream of many physicists for decades and is now expected to take only a few more years. To date, this has only been possible at very low temperatures around minus 150 degrees Celsius and below, which are not easy to find anywhere on earth.

About a year ago, a Canadian research group verified the findings of Haase’s team from 2016 using newly developed, computer-aided calculations and thus substantiated the findings theoretically.

Superconductivity is already used today in a variety of ways, for example, in magnets for MRI machines and in nuclear fusion. But it would be much easier and less expensive if superconductors operated at room temperature.

The phenomenon of superconductivity was discovered in metals as early as 1911, but even Albert Einstein did not attempt to come up with an explanation back then. Nearly half a century passed before BCS theory provided an understanding of superconductivity in metals in 1957.

In 1986, the discovery of superconductivity in ceramic materials (cuprate superconductors) at much higher temperatures by physicists Georg Bednorz and Karl Alexander Müller raised new questions but also raised hopes that superconductivity could be achieved at room temperature.

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