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J2. Fossil Fuel Industry

Passing of mining pioneer Jeffrey Whittle

Mining.Com - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 06:52

Whittle Consulting has announced that their founder, Jeff Whittle, died peacefully on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, at the age of 93.

Whittle became involved in the mining industry in 1979 when he joined Newmont Australia, later, Newcrest, as a contractor. He was fascinated by a largely theoretical paper published in 1965 by IBM researchers Lerchs and Grossmann, entitled, “Optimum Design of Open Pit Mines.” This described an algorithm to maximize cash flow from these mines, working from a block model of ore distribution, mining costs, and pit slope requirements.

There was no commercially available optimization software, so Whittle offered to write a program for Newmont, based on the Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm. When Newmont declined to commit funding to what they considered such a risky project, he decided to write it himself.

In 1983, Jeff took time off from his contracting work to write the first commercially available implementation of the Lerchs-Grossmann algorithm, which was practical to use on the computers of the day. He improved the efficiency of the algorithm by devising an inverted model of block dependencies, which greatly reduced the storage requirements for the whole data structure. This enabled the structure required for real mines to fit in memory, which was often less than 1 Mb, even for mainframes.

This was “Three-D”, which Whittle and his wife Ruth licensed to mining companies as Fortran source code.

In 1984, they established Whittle Programming. Over the next 16 years, he developed a series of mining optimization software packages. These were successfully marketed and sold by his wife to mining companies and consultancies all around the world. In 2000, they sold the business to Gemcom in Canada. This Whittle package of programs remains the industry standard toolkit to this day.

At around the same time, He began work on multi-pit mine scheduling optimization software. His ongoing development of this software resulted in the Prober series of optimisation tools used today by Whittle Consulting.

For almost 40 years, Whittle excelled at developing computer software which revolutionised mine design, strategic mine planning, and most specifically, the ability to optimise the efficiency and net present value of the most complex mining projects. he created the term, “Enterprise Optimization,” which is now common in mining industry parlance.

After making his last contributions to Prober in 2022, Whittle was happy that the ongoing development of his Whittle Consulting proprietary software was secure in the hands of the talented team at Whittle Consulting.

Whittle initially trained as an experimental physicist at the University of Manchester, U.K., gaining a degree with honours in physics. He, his wife and their young family emigrated from England to Australia in 1961. He was a pioneer of the computing age and started programming computers in 1962 while working at Defence Standard Laboratories in Melbourne. He and his wife became naturalised Australians in 1977.

Whittle’s legacy is profound. In the late 1960s, in his work on year 11 and 12 exam data processing, certificate printing, and university place selection at the Monash Computer Centre, Whittle developed a standardized scoring system for the Higher School Certificate (HSC) which made all subjects equally difficult. The current VCE scoring system is an evolution of the system he developed.

In 2018, Whittle was made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in recognition of his distinguished service to the information technology sector and the mining industry.

Whittle was a proud and loving husband, father and grandfather. He is survived by Ruth, their six children – Robin, Gerald, Paul, David, Judy, and Matthew – and 12 grandchildren.

The funeral is Feb. 16. Tributes may be sent by clicking here.

Stanford researchers figured out how to reduce Li-metal battery degradation

Mining.Com - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 06:06

Stanford University researchers have discovered that by draining and letting them rest for several hours, lithium metal batteries’ cycle life improves significantly.

At present, these devices rapidly lose their capacity to store energy after relatively few cycles of charging and discharging, which is impractical for drivers who expect rechargeable electric cars to operate for years.

To address this issue, scientists have been testing a variety of new materials and the Stanford straightforward approach, described in a study published in the journal Nature, restored battery capacity and boosted overall performance.

“We were looking for the easiest, cheapest, and fastest way to improve lithium metal cycling life,” study co-lead author Wenbo Zhang said in a media statement. “We discovered that by resting the battery in the discharged state, lost capacity can be recovered and cycle life increased. These improvements can be realized by reprogramming the battery management software, with no additional cost or changes needed for equipment, materials, or production flow.”

For Zhang and his colleagues, the results of the study could provide EV manufacturers with practical insights on adapting lithium metal technology to real-world driving conditions.

Lithium metal vs. lithium-ion technology

A conventional lithium-ion battery consists of two electrodes – a graphite anode and a lithium metal oxide cathode – separated by a liquid or solid electrolyte that shuttles lithium ions back and forth.

In a lithium metal battery, the graphite anode is replaced with electroplated lithium metal, which enables it to store twice the energy of a lithium-ion battery in the same amount of space. The lithium metal anode also weighs less than the graphite anode, which is important for EVs. Lithium metal batteries can hold at least a third more energy per pound than lithium-ion.

“A car equipped with a lithium metal battery would have twice the range of a lithium-ion vehicle of equal size – 600 miles per charge versus 300 miles, for example,” co-lead author Philaphon Sayavong said. “In EVs, the goal is to keep the battery as lightweight as possible while extending the vehicle range.”

Doubling the range could eliminate range anxiety for drivers who are reluctant to purchase EVs. Unfortunately, continuous charging and discharging causes lithium metal batteries to degrade quickly, rendering them useless for routine driving. When the battery is discharged, micron-sized bits of lithium metal become isolated and get trapped in the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), a spongy matrix that forms where the anode and electrolyte meet.

“The SEI matrix is essentially decomposed electrolyte,” Zhang explained. “It surrounds isolated pieces of lithium metal stripped from the anode and prevents them from participating in any electrochemical reactions. For that reason, we consider isolated lithium dead.”

Repeated charging and discharging result in the build-up of additional dead lithium, causing the battery to rapidly lose capacity.

“An EV with a state-of-the-art lithium metal battery would lose range at a much faster rate than an EV powered by a lithium-ion battery,” Zhang said.

Discharge and rest

In previous work, Sayavong and his colleagues discovered that the SEI matrix begins to dissolve when the battery is idle. Based on that finding, the Stanford team decided to see what would happen if the battery was allowed to rest while discharged.

“The first step was to completely discharge the battery so there is zero current running through it,” Zhang said. “Discharging strips all the metallic lithium from the anode, so all you’re left with are inactive pieces of isolated lithium surrounded by the SEI matrix.”

The next step was to let the battery sit idle.

“We found that if the battery rests in the discharged state for just one hour, some of the SEI matrix surrounding the dead lithium dissolves away,” Sayavong said. “So when you recharge the battery, the dead lithium will reconnect with the anode, because there’s less solid mass getting in the way.”

Reconnecting with the anode brings dead lithium back to life, enabling the battery to generate more energy and extend its cycle life.

“Previously, we thought that this energy loss was irreversible,” Yi Cui, senior author of the paper, said. “But our study showed that we can recover lost capacity simply by resting the discharged battery.”

Using time-lapse video microscopy, the researchers visually confirmed the disintegration of residual SEI and subsequent recovery of dead lithium during the resting phase.

Sibanye-Stillwater, Heraeus team up to save palladium

Mining.Com - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 05:29

Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW)(NYSE: SBSW) has teamed up with metals trader and recycling company Heraeus Precious Metals to explore new uses for platinum-group metals (PGM), particularly palladium, in the hydrogen market. 

The partners aim to develop alternative markets for battered-metal, for which prices fell more than 40% last year due mainly to weak demand from China. The rout has rolled into 2024, with the metal price falling below platinum’s last week for the first time since 2018.

The joint venture, which will be equally funded by both parties, says that while palladium demand has been dominated by auto catalysts for the past few decades, is time to find new applications for the metal.

“Over the longer term, demand for palladium in the automotive sector is expected to decrease, creating an opportunity to consider new applications for the metal (…) Palladium has a very high selectivity for hydrogen and thus can be used in a broad range of applications,” they said in the statement.

Palladium is mainly used by the auto industry, which makes up four-fifths of its demand. Consumption of the metal, however, dropped by almost 40% in 2023 as carmakers switched to cheaper platinum for the devices that reduce harmful emissions and as more drivers opted for EVs.

Sibanye and Heraeus expect to ultimately ensure a “sustainable PGM supply basket”, which should include palladium, platinum and critical raw materials, such as iridium, ruthenium and rhodium

“We expect hybrids to become the dominant engine type underpinning demand for palladium in the medium term,” Sibanye-Stillwater chief executive, Neal Froneman,  said in the statement. “Longer term and in response to changing demands, the PGM industry must innovate and stabilize the platinum group metals market,” he said.

Palladium and platinum prices decline has driven producers in South Africa, including Sibanye-Stillwater to apply severe cost-cutting measures. 

The company is even axing jobs at its mines in the United States, with about 7,000 workers expected to be affected.

Fellow miner Impala Platinum Holdings has offered voluntary job cuts, including at its deep-level Rustenburg complex. Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) has also held talks with the government about potential job cuts.

Defense Metals testing makes 50% TREO concentrates with 80% recovery

Mining.Com - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 04:00

Defense Metals (TSXV: DEFN; OTCQB: DFMTF) says metallurgical testing of samples from its Wicheeda rare earth project in British Columbia has shown that a 50% total rate earth oxide (TRE) concentrate can be made. The recovery rate was 80%. The tests were carried out by SGS Canada.

“Continuing positive results from our technical studies suggest that our wholly-owned Wicheeda REE project has the potential to become the next producer of rare earth elements in North America accounting for a significant amount of the rare earths needed for the western world’s future magnet metal production,” said Defense Metals CEO Craig Taylor in a release.

Beginning in 2018 up to the present, Defense has spent about $5 million on metallurgical test work and the creation of flowsheets for the Wicheeda project. Recent studies optimized the milling and hydrometallurgical processes and the response of 21 variability samples representing different rare earth element (REE) grades, lithologies and locations within the deposit.

The results of the metallurgical tests will be included in the prefeasibility study due to be completed in the second quarter of 2024, said Taylor, and then work would begin on the feasibility study.

The Wicheeda project has measured and indicated resources that total 34.2 million tonnes grading 2.02% TREO and contain 699,000 tonnes of TREO. The inferred portion is 11.1 million tonnes at 1.02% TREO and contains 113,000 tonnes.

Canadian graphite miner NMG scores deals with GM, Panasonic

Mining.Com - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 03:48

Nouveau Monde Graphite (TSX-V: NOU) (NYSE: NMG) inked on Thursday multi-year offtake agreements with General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Panasonic Holdings, with both companies also vowing to invest in the Canadian miner to help it produce high-quality graphite in North America.

GM and Panasonic have each committed to purchase 18,000 tonnes of  natural graphite active anode material annually over a period of six to seven years, the Montreal-based miner said. They are also making equity investments of $25 million each in the company.

The two firms and potential co-investors could join future rounds of financing worth hundreds of millions of dollars, Nouveau Monde Graphite (NGM) said in a statement.

NGM aims to raise $1.2 billion to build the whole project, with $725 million coming from debt and $475 million from equity. The miner aims to become North America’s first fully integrated source of natural graphite active anode material, which accounts for about half of an electric vehicle (EV) battery. 

To achieve this goal, it is is developing the Matawinie project in Saint-Michel-des-Saints, Quebec, about 100 miles north of Montreal, where it also plans to build a graphite concentrator. 

NMG will also install a refining facility for the production of active anode material in Becancour, Quebec. This is the same area where GM and Ford Motor Co. are already constructing EV battery-component facilities.

The Matawinie open pit mine is expected to produce 103,000 tonnes of graphite a year over the course of 25 years and is part of a larger strategy to turn Canada into a production centre for lithium ion batteries. 

The miner said the investments and agreements are seen as a testament to the company’s bankability and are expected to boost the commercialization of a local and traceable value chain for the EV market in North America.

Map of NMG’s integrated extraction and advanced manufacturing routes to supply Panasonic Energy and GM. (Courtesy of Nouveau Monde Graphite.)

“We had been looking for top-tier EV and battery manufacturers to bolster our commercial vision [of becoming a leader in the market],” NMG’s founder, president and chief executive, Eric Desaulniers, said in a statement. “Thanks to visionary customers and investors, we are now moving toward establishing a fully local and traceable value chain.”

NMG is also backed by the Quebec government’s financial arm, London-based private equity shop Pallinghurst Resources LLP and Japan’s Mitsui & Co. 

The West is looking for sources of graphite outside China, the world’s top producer and exporter, which also refines more than 90% of the world’s graphite into the material that is used in virtually all EV battery anodes.

The quest to bring graphite projects to fruition has become more urgent in the past months, as China announced in October it will require export permits for some graphite products.

NMG said its recent acquisition of the Uatnan project for its Phase-3 expansion also provides a supply opportunity for Western EV and battery manufacturers looking to secure and grow active anode material volumes as their production increases.

Ennore-Manali Oil Spill: Urgent Call for Stringent Regulations and Accountability in India's Petrochemical Landscape

Break Free From Plastic - Thu, 02/15/2024 - 02:11

Chennai, 15th February 2024 - On December 4, an oil spill was recorded at the Chennai Petroleum Corporation Limited (CPCL). Exacerbated by floods following Cyclone Michaung, the sheet of oil extended into Buckingham Canal and Ennore Creek, silently wreaking havoc on the local ecosystem and threatening the livelihoods and health of thousands of fishermen.

The Ennore-Manali area hosts 36 large, red-category petrochemical and other factories - representing the densest concentration of fossil-fuel industries in south India. Petrochemical industries are the key source of raw materials for plastic production, and clusters like Ennore-Manali produce huge volumes of single-use plastics, packaging materials, and various consumer plastic goods. An oil spill, resulting from the negligence of petrochemical industries, not only causes immediate environmental harm but also serves as a harbinger of the more extensive issue of plastic pollution.

Ennore-Manali, a hub of petrochemical industrial units has been flagged as critically polluted by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for nearly a decade. A study titled 'Poison in the Air' by BFFP-AP member, the Chennai Climate Action Group (CCAG) found that industrial units in this region violated emission standards for over half the year in 2019. Some community stories from this region, compiled by BFFP-AP member, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), have also been featured in our Toxic Tours - Manali chapter.

While the Ennore-Manali cluster has gained attention as an illustrative case of climate recklessness, the December oil spill is yet another chapter in the region's grim narrative of environmental degradation.

Cleanups are like a band-aid on an oozing sore, disaster management needs so much more.

After the oil spill, CPCL claimed to have worked on a ‘war footing’ in collaboration with the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) and state authorities, yet the local communities say otherwise. The delayed response in addressing the Ennore oil spill was exacerbated by the absence of a contingency plan for industrial accidents in Tamil Nadu, which most other states have. What’s more, the state government doesn’t even have the right equipment to deal with such a disaster – placing local communities living near the petrochemical cluster at high risk.

In a sense, the industrial cluster of Ennore, and its local communities live in the shadow of environmental and anthropogenic disasters.

More than two months later, marginalised communities face the most severe repercussions. Fisherfolk, dependent on the creek for their livelihoods, face an uncertain future as the oil permeates every aspect of their daily lives – from the bottom of their fishing boats to the nets they cast into the waters. Their oil-laden catch is deemed unfit for consumption, leaving fisherfolk with little choice but to watch their stock go to waste. Compensation plans announced by the government, though well-meaning, have fallen far short of addressing the long-term consequences faced by the affected families.

Mr. Prabakaran. V of the Poovulangin Nanbargal echoes,

“The pollution control board and CPCL have not disclosed the quantity of oil spilled, nor its toxic characteristics. Analysis of an oil sample by a private media house revealed the presence of eight volatile organic compounds, including Benzene, Toluene, and Styrene, and sixteen Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) such as Naphthalene, Fluorene, and Anthracene, exceeding permissible limits.

According to the Bureau of Indian Standards for drinking water, total petroleum hydrocarbons should be at 0.1 parts per billion, but the tested water showed an alarming level of 3,240 parts per billion. Volatile Organic Compounds like Benzene, Styrene, and Ethylbenzene were found to be 50 to 60 times above the standards.

For over a week, residents of Ernavoor (Kargil Nagar, V.P Nagar, Adhidravidar Kudiyirupu, Sattankadu & Brindhavan Nagar) were exposed to hazardous oil as it entered their houses with flooded water. Fishermen, involved in the cleanup without proper protective gear during the initial days, were also at risk. Individuals exposed to the oil are already experiencing health issues such as skin problems, eye irritation, throat irritation, breathing problems, continuous fever, headaches, and fatigue. Despite these challenges, affected villages have not received any medical treatment. Given the presence of carcinogenic substances like benzene, toluene, styrene, and other PAHs, immediate medical screening is imperative for the residents of the affected villages.”

Pradip Chatterjee, the convenor of the National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (NPSSFW) highlights,

“The Ennore oil spill was followed by another disaster of gas leak from the same plant. Many people fell sick. Victims of the oil spill are yet to be compensated. NPSSFW demands immediate closure and removal of the Ennore CPCL Refinery.

Our demands are clear: immediate compensation and support for fish workers affected by the oil spill, withdrawal from hazardous cleaning operations, continuous health monitoring, and accountability from polluters like CPCL. It's time to prioritize the livelihoods and well-being of our communities and ecosystems."

Access the Press Release by NPFSSFW.

Lokeshwaran E, a volunteer at Chennai Climate Action Group adds,

"A catastrophic man-made disaster has unfolded, yet CPCL has failed to accept responsibility. Not only humans but all living beings have been subjected to hazardous chemicals, resulting in severe skin and respiratory ailments for people, while birds are left vulnerable, soaking in oily waters. Ennore's already fragile ecology has been further ravaged by this oil leak, exacerbating the situation. Compensation funds offered are merely superficial gestures, failing to address the profound impact on people's lives."

Industrial clusters like Ennore-Manali, with petrochemical, fertilizer, and thermal plants are susceptible to various disasters like chemical spills, gas leaks, explosions and fires, more so, as a coastal area prone to annual flooding. Systemic solutions would include placing a stay on the operations of high-risk, highly-polluting, non-compliant industries like CPCL, until more stringent regulations for the petrochemical and affiliated industries are in place and adhered to, a planned phase-out of non-essential plastics and linked polymers and a just transition of workers in the refineries and affected communities.

With India’s petrochemical industry projected to grow at a CAGR of 9-10%, it is imperative that we strengthen regulatory frameworks, implement proactive monitoring systems, and ensure the strict adherence of industries to safety protocols. These measures can safeguard the well-being of communities, preserve the environment, and secure sustainable economic development.

The Ennore-Manali incident serves as a poignant reminder that robust oversight and stringent regulations are not just prerequisites but a moral responsibility to prevent and mitigate the adverse impacts of industrial activities on our planet and its inhabitants.

Image credits: Poovulagin Nanbargal

For media inquiries, please contact:

Devayani Khare, Regional Communications Officer: devayani@breakfreefromplastic.org

About BFFP — #BreakFreeFromPlastic is a global movement envisioning a future free from plastic pollution. Since its launch in 2016, more than 2,700 organizations and 11,000 individual supporters from across the world have joined the movement to demand massive reductions in single-use plastics and push for lasting solutions to the plastic pollution crisis. BFFP member organizations and individuals share the values of environmental protection and social justice and work together through a holistic approach to bring about systemic change. This means tackling plastic pollution across the whole plastics value chain – from extraction to disposal – focusing on prevention rather than cure and providing effective solutions. www.breakfreefromplastic.org.

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Supporting Organizations

Poovulagin Nanbargal is an environmental organization working independently in Tamil Nadu for more than 30 years now. It deals with environmental issues, natural conservation, and developmental issues based on a scientifically constructive approach. https://poovulagu.org/

The National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (NPFSSFW) works to help the fishing communities access the rights and entitlements provided to them by the Government and also to raise and push forward with further needs as and when required. https://smallscalefishworkers.org/

The Chennai Climate Action Group is a youth-led environmental justice collective that advocates the rights of marginalized, under-represented and unrepresented communities of current and future generations of human and other life-forms.  CCAG uses science, law and media to support community struggles against environmental injustice. https://chennaiclimateactiongroup.wordpress.com/

Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) aims to bring accountability in financial institutions that lend money to development projects, through research and campaigns. https://www.cenfa.org.

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South32 to invest $2.1 billion in Hermosa project in Arizona

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 15:16

South32 (ASX, LON: S32) said on Wednesday that its Hermosa project in Arizona, currently the only advanced US mining project capable of producing two federally designated critical minerals (zinc and manganese), has received board approval for $2.16 billion in funding to develop the zinc-lead-silver deposit.

This represents the largest private investment in southern Arizona’s history, and the largest investment in the local Santa Cruz county economy to date by nearly nine times, the Australian miner said.

Last year, the Hermosa project became the first to be added to the United States’ FAST-41 permitting process, and the company said it has the potential to become one of the world’s largest zinc producers.

“Today’s investment decision represents a major milestone for our business and aligns with our strategy to reshape our portfolio toward commodities critical to a low-carbon future,” South32 CEO Graham Kerr said in a news release.

“[The] project will strengthen the domestic supply of critical minerals needed for clean energy technologies and national defense, reducing America’s reliance on foreign countries and transforming the local economy,” Hermosa project president Pat Risner added.

With a surface footprint of just over 600 acres and projected to use approximately 75% less water than other mines in the region, the operation has been designed to minimize its environmental impact, the company said.

The new investment will fund construction of key infrastructure projects, including water management systems, power, site facilities, underground shaft sinking, initial underground development and other work required to begin operations, it added.

Once completed, this infrastructure would support future potential development of other deposits at the site, including the battery-grade manganese deposit, South32 said.

Construction and mine development at Hermosa, made up of the Taylor (zinc-lead-silver) and Clark (zinc-manganese-silver) deposits, started last year with approvals from the State of Arizona.

“Development of the zinc deposit is the first phase of a regional-scale opportunity at Hermosa, with ongoing activities to unlock additional value from the manganese deposit,” Kerr said.

In January, South32 released a mine plan of operations as a roadmap of operational activities at the Hermosa project from start to finish located on lands managed by the Coronado National Forest.

Tiny diamond-tin-filled device could jumpstart work toward quantum internet

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 15:06

A tiny, diamond-tin-filled device developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge could allow the quick, efficient flow of quantum information over large distances.

In a paper published in the journal Nature Photonics, the scientists explain that the key to the device is a “microchiplet” made of diamond in which some of the diamond’s carbon atoms are replaced with atoms of tin. The team’s experiments indicate that the device, consisting of waveguides for the light to carry the quantum information, solves a paradox that has stymied the arrival of large, scalable quantum networks.

Quantum information in the form of quantum bits, or qubits, is easily disrupted by environmental noise, like magnetic fields, that destroys the information. So on one hand, it’s desirable to have qubits that don’t interact strongly with the environment. On the other hand, however, those qubits need to strongly interact with the light, or photons, key to carrying the information over distances.

The MIT and Cambridge researchers allow both by co-integrating two different kinds of qubits that work in tandem to save and transmit information. Further, the team reports high efficiencies in the transfer of that information.

“This is a critical step as it demonstrates the feasibility of integrating electronic and nuclear qubits in a microchiplet. This integration addresses the need to preserve quantum information over long distances while maintaining strong interaction with photons,” Dirk Englund, who led the research at MIT, said in a media statement. “This was possible through the combination of the strengths of the University of Cambridge and MIT teams.”

Working at the quantum scale

A computer bit can be thought of as anything with two different physical states, such as “on” and “off,” to represent zero and one. In the strange ultra-small world of quantum mechanics, a qubit “has the extra property that instead of being in just one of these two states, it can be in a superposition of the two states. So it can be in both of those states at the same time,” Jesús Arjona Martínez, co-author of the study, said.

Multiple qubits that are entangled, or correlated with each other, can share much more information than the bits associated with conventional computing. Hence the potential power of quantum computers.

Englund and his team explained that there are many kinds of qubits, but two common types are based on spin, or the rotation of an electron or a nucleus (left to right, or right to left). The new device involves both electronic and nuclear qubits.

A spinning electron, or electronic qubit, is very good at interacting with the environment, while the spinning nucleus of an atom, or nuclear qubit, is not. 

“We’ve combined a qubit that is well known for interacting easily with light with a qubit that is well known for being very isolated, and thus preserving information for a long time. By combining these two, we think we can get the best of both worlds,” Arjona Martínez said.

Like the solar system

The way it works is that the electron [electronic qubit] whizzing along in the diamond can get stuck at the tin defect and this electronic qubit can then transfer its information to the spinning tin nucleus, the nuclear qubit.

“The analogy I like to use is the solar system,” Isaac Harris, co-author of the paper, said. “You have the sun in the middle, that’s the tin nucleus, and then you have the earth going around it, and that’s the electron. We can choose to store the information in the direction of the earth’s rotation, that’s our electronic qubit. Or we can store the information in the direction of the sun, which rotates around its own axis. That’s the nuclear qubit.”

In general, then, light carries information through an optical fibre to the new device, which includes a stack of several tiny diamond waveguides that are each about 1,000 times smaller than a human hair. Several devices could then act as the nodes that control the flow of information in the quantum internet.

The work described in this study involved experiments with one device. 

“Eventually, however, there could be hundreds or thousands of these on a microchip,” Arjona Martínez said.

Harris noted that his theoretical work had predicted a strong interaction between the tin nucleus and the incoming electronic qubit. “It was ten times larger than we expected it to be, so I thought the calculation was probably wrong. Then the Cambridge team came along and measured it, and it was neat to see that the prediction was confirmed by the experiment.”

Shell and Exxon Take Dutch Government to Court Over Gas Field Party Pooper

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 13:46

Posted by John Donovan; 14 Feb 24

In an epic tale of corporate vs. nature, Shell and ExxonMobil, the dynamic duo of fossil fuel festivities, have decided it’s time to drag the Dutch government to arbitration court. Why, you ask? Well, they’re a tad miffed that the Netherlands dared to halt their gas-guzzling shindig at the Groningen field, a once merry-go-round of gas supply that fueled Europe’s energy binges for decades.

Let’s set the scene: Groningen, a field so bountiful that Mother Nature herself might blush, has been the life of the party since the swinging ’60s. But as with all good things, the Dutch government, in a move as buzz-killing as it was seismic, decided in 2018 that the earth-shaking consequences of gas extraction were a party foul too severe. By last year, they called last rounds, decreeing that wells be shut down faster than you can say “earthquake.”

Shell and Exxon, under the guise of their party planning committee NAM, weren’t exactly thrilled. Despite having RSVP’d to the government’s decision with two headline agreements in 2018 and 2019, the devil, as they say, was in the details. Disagreements over the fine print have led to a frosty silence more chilling than a Dutch winter, prompting the companies to seek arbitration as the ultimate party mediator.

“Parties have disagreed over the interpretation of the agreements for a long time and many discussions with the government have not led to a solution,” lamented the companies in a joint statement, echoing the despair of unrequited party planners everywhere. They hope arbitration will be the disco ball that lights the way to clarity and mutual understanding.

On the flip side, the Dutch government, playing the role of the responsible adult, insists that turning down the gas was all in the name of safety, shrugging off the idea of compensation like a bad dance move. They’ve been trying to renegotiate the terms of this energy hoedown since 2020 and are curious to see how this legal rave will affect the vibe.

It’s worth noting that this gas gala has been quite the cash cow, with profits estimated at a cool 363 billion euros filling the Dutch treasury’s party fund since the ’60s, while Shell and Exxon pocketed around 66 billion euros to keep their own festivities going.

So, as Shell and Exxon take their party dispute to arbitration, the saga serves as a reminder that even the wildest shindigs must come to an end, especially when Mother Earth is the one footing the bill. Will the Dutch government manage to keep the peace and ensure safety, or will Shell and Exxon’s legal moves keep the party going? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure: this legal dance-off is set to be more gripping than the latest reality TV drama

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Shell Splurges $14 Billion on a Plant That’s Practically a Comedy of Errors

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 11:46

Posted by John Donovan: 14 Feb 24

In a jaw-dropping display of financial gymnastics, Shell, the beloved titan of environmental stewardship (wink, wink), has officially admitted to dropping a cool $14 billion on their Beaver County ethane cracker plant. That’s right, folks—more than double their initial fairy tale estimate of $6 billion. It seems someone at Shell’s been playing a little too fast and loose with the abacus.

Shell CEO Wael Sawan, possibly while polishing his crystal ball, shared this financial marvel during a recent earnings call. Sawan, who stepped into the CEO spotlight last year, presumably without a magician’s hat, stated, “The fundamental is making sure that the $14 billion so or so of capital employed in Shell Polymers Monaca are generating the return.” Ah, the sweet sound of optimism or delusion? You decide.

As if the plot couldn’t thicken any further, Sawan confessed that the plant, which started its comedic opera of mechanical mishaps from day one, won’t be belting out its full earnings aria until the 2025-26 season. But wait, there’s more! Out of the three polyethylene trains meant to serenade us with plastics, one decided to go off the rails due to “equipment issues,” delaying the grand finale of plastic production.

Fear not, for Sawan assures us, “I’m pleased to report that piece of equipment now has been installed, a compressor that we needed to put into place is in the process of being started up and will ramp up through the course of the coming weeks.” Ah, the suspense is palpable! Can you feel it? It’s like waiting for a delayed train that promises to arrive “soon.”

Shell’s grand vision of turning a tidy $1 billion to $1.5 billion in EBITDA from this polyethylene-producing extravaganza once it’s up and running might sound like music to shareholders’ ears. But given the orchestra of blunders so far, one might wonder if it’s more akin to a cacophony of cash burning.

In a moment of rare introspection—or perhaps after a stern talking-to by their accountants—Shell’s leadership, when prodded about diving into another financial black hole like this project, murmured something about being “very clear where every single dollar of capital is going to be prioritized.” Translation: Maybe, just maybe, we’ll think twice before embarking on another megaproject misadventure.

Nestled along the scenic Ohio River, the petrochemical complex (a term as charming as “toxic waste dump”) was lured into existence with one of the largest tax incentives in Pennsylvania’s history—$1.7 billion of taxpayer generosity. All this for the noble cause of producing up to 1.6 million tons of polyethylene yearly. Because, as we all know, the world was desperately lacking in flexible food packaging, sports equipment, toys, crates, shampoo bottles, and milk cartons.

So, as Shell marches proudly forward with its $14 billion monument to overbudget projects, one can’t help but marvel at the spectacle. It’s a tale of ambition, comedy, and perhaps a dash of hubris, served up with a side of plastic—lots and lots of plastic.

DISCLAIMER: Content published on this non-commercial advert-free platform may incorporate information generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and various other technological means, including translation and information published on Wikipedia. The articles presented may be satirical adaptations derived from one or more previously published sources, crafted to maintain factual accuracy while incorporating elements of satire. Individuals or entities mentioned in our articles are encouraged to notify us of any inaccuracies that may require rectification. Readers are advised to verify all information for accuracy and completeness independently. Shell Splurges $14 Billion on a Plant That’s Practically a Comedy of Errors was first posted on February 14, 2024 at 8:46 pm.
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Shell at it again? Oil Giant shirking responsibility by selling its assets in the Niger Delta

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 11:21
Shell at it again? Oil Giant shirking responsibility by selling its assets in the Niger Delta

By Andy Rowell and James Marriott

Last month, it was widely reported that another chapter in Shell’s dirty and disastrous eighty-seven-year operations in the Niger Delta was coming to an end, with the company selling its onshore business.

It’s easy to see why Shell wants to untangle itself from its controversial past. For years, the oil giant has tried to hide from its ongoing corporate liability lawsuits. However, it looks like Shell could be up to its old tricks again: trying to avoid legal responsibilities from its devastating Nigerian operations.

Shell may hope that by offloading its oil and gas fields onto a Nigerian consortium it will make it harder to sue the corporation in American or European courts.

Ever since starting to explore for oil in the late 1930s, Shell’s operations in the country have been a vortex of constant controversy, environmental devastationdouble standards, and complicity in human rights abuses — most notoriously in the murder of the Ogoni 9, including writer Ken Saro-Wiwa.

In a press statement on 16 January 2024, the company said it had “reached an agreement to sell its Nigerian onshore subsidiary, The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), to Renaissance, a consortium of five companies comprising four exploration and production companies based in Nigeria and an international energy group.”

Zoë Yujnovich, Shell’s Integrated Gas and Upstream Director, was quoted as saying that the agreement with Renaissance “marks an important milestone for Shell in Nigeria, aligning with our previously announced intent to exit onshore oil production in the Niger Delta.”

So, is this the end of the road for Shell in Nigeria, as some news outlets have reported? The simple answer is no.

Here’s why: It seems like Shell wants to sell the controversial parts of its business and keep the potentially profitable ones.

Shell says that after the sale it “will retain a role in supporting the management of SPDC JV facilities that supply a major portion of the feed gas to Nigeria LNG (NLNG), to help Nigeria achieve maximum value from NLNG. Shell will also continue producing oil in the country’s lucrative offshore sector, as well as providing gas to consumers. The company holds a 25.6% interest in NLNG, producing and exporting LNG to global markets.”

However, as ever with Shell, nothing is quite what it seems. In fact, the company will continue to be involved in onshore exploration. Renaissance comprises four Nigerian companies, ND Western, Aradel Energy, First E&P, and Waltersmith, and one Geneva-based company, Petrolin, involved in exploration, production, and oil trading.

Renaissance will be responsible for dealing with spills, theft, and sabotage. SPDC and its new owners will also reportedly be responsible for the company’s ongoing contribution to the remediation of past environmental damage.

The assets on sale are estimated to be worth $2.8 billion. Initially, Shell will receive USD $1.3 billion and then a further $1.1 billion, on completion of the sale. But here comes the rub: Shell will provide a loan of up to USD $1.2 billion to the buyers to help them buy their stake in SPDC.

Furthermore, “Shell is providing additional financing of up to US$1.3bln over future years to fund SPDC’s share of the development of the SPDC JV’s gas resources to supply feed gas to NLNG, and its share of specific decommissioning and restoration costs.”

However, the new owners are not short of money. For example, Petrolin owns a minority stake in Seplat Energy, Nigeria’s largest listed energy group and the ninth most valuable company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

If someone lends you the money to buy a house, then that lender is as much of an owner of the house as you are, until you pay off the loan. So it is with Shell’s arrangement with Renaissance. Shell may well carry on investing in SPDC’s gas business and putting some money aside for “decommissioning and restoration.” Perhaps this arrangement will last for years, or decades?

So there has been a sale publicly, but privately, Shell still effectively owns part of the business. It is then investing in the business, too. However, the realities of these matters will be further and further away from public scrutiny. Worse still, it’s likely the terms of the $1.2 bn loan from Shell to Renaissance will be hidden behind a smoke screen of “commercial confidentiality.”

It is not hard to see why Shell would want you to think its days onshore in Nigeria are done. In the nineties, as civil society and community opposition to the company grew, Shell always tried to distance itself from its Nigerian subsidiary, saying it was a small problem with a local subsidiary in Africa and not one rooted back where the hierarchy operated in London or the Hague.

But the evidence painted a different picture. Nigerian experts felt that Shell responded to the community protests, not with sincerity but with a mindset driven by a public relations department intent on “damage limitation.” Much of the public relations response was driven from the head office in London, not by company staff in Lagos or Port Harcourt.

Faced with such corporate arrogance and indifference, the communities have sought justice for decades, trying to hold Shell to account. Back in 2009, Shell agreed to settle “Wiwa Versus Shell,” paying a total of $15.5 million to the plaintiffs, who had sued over the oil giant’s complicity in the murder of the Ogoni 9. Although this was a significant amount of money to the plaintiffs, for the company, the payout was small change, and it walked away without admitting liability.

Other court cases have been brought against Shell. In 2002, one widow, Esther Kiobel, sued Shell in the United States, where she had been granted asylum. Over ten years later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the case, meaning U.S. courts never got to examine the facts of the case.

Before settling, Shell made repeated attempts to get the case thrown out, in part arguing that US courts did not have jurisdiction – using its complicated corporate structure as a way of trying to avoid liability.

In 2017, Esther Kiobel and three other widows, Victoria Bera, Blessing Eawo, and Charity Levula, brought a new legal case against Shell in the Netherlands. In a significant initial legal victory, the court did accept legal jurisdiction against the Shell parent company, based in the Netherlands.

At a hearing, witness after witness told the Dutch court Shell had bribed them to frame the Ogoni 9, including Ken Saro-Wiwa. Shell, of course, strenuously denied the allegations. Mark Dummett, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights, was there:

 

 

In 2022, in a soul-destroying verdict for Esther and the other widows, the court eventually sided with Shell. Part of the reason for the court’s decision seems to be that the court ruled that the claimants could not prove “conclusively to Shell involvement.”

It is hard enough to get Big Oil in court. It is even harder when Big Oil delays proceedings for years, so memories begin to fade. Finally, it appears it is even harder to have the level of proof that the court was requiring. For it seems it was demanding a criminal level of proof in what was a civil case.

A year earlier, in May 2021, the District Court of the Hague held Shell liable for causing dangerous climate change. As a result of legal action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie) together with 17,000 co-plaintiffs and six other organizations, the court ruled that Shell must reduce its CO2 emissions by 45% within ten years.

It was seen as a historic verdict with huge ramifications for Shell and other big international polluters. The judgment surely reverberated all the way back to the company’s boardroom in the Hague. But companies like Renaissance, based in Nigeria, will be immune from Dutch prosecution.

The judgment meant that its Nigerian operations, so long a headache for the company, now could affect the whole Group’s bottom line. Something had to give. After this case, Shell sped up the process of trying to offload the entirety of its onshore production assets.

Meanwhile, the legal cases kept coming. In January 2023, Shell paid 15 million euros to communities in Nigeria affected by multiple oil leaks. Once again, it had been a long fight for justice, with four farmers suing Shell in 2008. And once again, Shell walked away having settled – without actually paying liability.

Shell is also subject to lawsuits in the UK. In 2014, Shell settled a case for £55 million against 15,600 claimants from Bodo, after a massive oil spill there. In November last year, the high court in London ruled that 13,000 farmers, fishermen, and women could bring human rights claims against Shell, including over chronic oil pollution of their water sources and destruction of their way of life

Matthew Renshaw, the communities’ lawyer from law firm Leigh Day, said: “This ruling is a significant moment in the eight-year battle by the Ogale and Bille communities to get Shell to take responsibility for the oil pollution that has blighted their land.” He added, “During this time, Shell has repeatedly resorted to using technicalities to block and delay our clients’ claims.”

Since the sale was announced, Leigh Day has issued a statement saying that “While details of the proposed sale and its implications for SPDC’s future are unclear,” their “clients are concerned about how the proposed sale could affect their claims.”

Furthermore, the plaintiffs are “worried that the sale could affect SPDC’s ability or willingness to fulfill the terms of any judgment which may be made against it, including in relation to orders to clean up and remediate the polluted areas.”

The law firm is also aware of “many other Niger Delta communities suffering as a result of oil spills from Shell’s operations who will be concerned about how the sale of SPDC will affect them.”

The law firm added that “it would be unconscionable for Shell to pack up its onshore operations in Nigeria without cleaning up its mess and paying compensation …. We consider that Shell, having made billions of pounds over decades from extracting oil resources from Nigeria, should fulfill its legal responsibilities and not leave behind an environmental catastrophe as it seeks to exit the Niger Delta.”

This month’s sale seems another technicality by Shell to try and avoid legal liability. The corporation’s onshore Nigerian business is still profitable. It is worth remembering that instead of spending decades fighting those who wanted justice for the Ogoni 9 and decades fighting pollution cases, the oil giant could have admitted liability. It could have prevented so much heartache and anguish. But it chose profits over people, arrogance over reconciliation.

The timing is also coincidental, according to Shell-watchers in Nigeria. After a recent ruling by the President, Shell and its partner ENI are now set to exploit the controversial but lucrative offshore oil block, OPL 245, which has been subject to corruption allegations for over a decade. Nigerian activists have concerns that this is a predatory deal that will not benefit the country.

Other critics of Shell also reacted angrily to the news of the reported sale, with civil society in Nigeria calling on the government to stop the sale until Shell cleans up its mess.

Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director of Nigerian advocacy group Health of Mother Earth Foundation, said: “Shell must own up to its responsibility. This means full payment for the remediation and restoration of the polluted areas as well as reparations to the host communities. They cannot walk away from the virtually irreparable harm they have caused.”

Long-term climate activist Cindy Baxter, who has campaigned against the oil industry for decades, added: “Nearly 30 years after Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others were hung for protesting Shell’s pollution, the Ogoni people are still fighting it in the courts. Before this corporation leaves the country, it must clean up – and pay for its environmental crimes.”

So, the mirage that Shell wants you to believe, is that it is no longer connected to its controversial Nigerian subsidiary. That is false. As long as Shell’s loans to the business’s new owner Renaissance exist, a direct line of liability remains there for years. It’s hidden, but it’s there. Lawyers in London and the Hague should take note. Because there is still a long way to go for the communities in Nigeria to finally achieve the justice they deserve.

Andy Rowell and James Marriott – together with Lorne Stockman – are co-authors of The Next Gulf – London, Washington & the oil conflict in Nigeria’. See also Crude Britannia – how oil shaped a nation’ by Marriott & Macalister.

See original article published by OILCHANGE INTERNATIONAL 12 FEB 2024

Shell at it again? Oil Giant shirking responsibility by selling its assets in the Niger Delta was first posted on February 14, 2024 at 8:21 pm.
©2018 "Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at john@shellnews.net

Shell Ditches Decade-Long Iraqi Dream

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 10:58
… the oil giant has opted for a dramatic exit, leaving Iraq’s dreams of petrochemical prosperity in the dust.

Posted by John Donovan: 14 Feb 24

Oh boy, Shell has done it again! After nearly a decade of dangling the carrot of investment in front of Iraq’s eager face, Shell has decided to pack its bags and leave the table, abandoning plans to build a mega petrochemicals plant in Basra. Just when you thought the plot couldn’t thicken any more, the oil giant has opted for a dramatic exit, leaving Iraq’s dreams of petrochemical prosperity in the dust.

“After an in-depth evaluation on the feasibility of the Nebras integrated petrochemicals complex with our government partners, Shell has decided not to proceed with the project,” Shell announced, sounding almost as if they had just decided to skip dessert. They cited reasons like “performance, discipline and simplification,” and the “high-grading of our chemicals portfolio.” Ah, the sweet sound of corporate speak meaning, “We’ve had a better offer,” or perhaps, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

The Iraqi ministry, still hopeful, confirmed Shell’s adieu but clung to the silver lining that the UK-based company would continue to support the project through its involvement in the Basra Gas Company (BGC).

Launched with fanfare and dreams of grandeur nearly a decade ago, the Nebras project was supposed to be the jewel in Iraq’s petrochemical crown. Initial agreements were signed, studies were conducted, and everyone was ready to roll. But like a soap opera, the project faced more stalls than a public bathroom, with Shell continually “evaluating” the scheme while Iraq waited by the phone for a call that never came.

Originally estimated to cost a cool $11 billion before someone found a calculator and revised it down to $8 billion, the project was a beacon of hope for Iraq’s under-developed petrochemicals industry. It promised thousands of jobs and a new revenue stream to a country that had once been a pioneer in the regional industry. But alas, sanctions, wars, and a general lack of investment left Iraq’s petrochemical dreams just that—dreams.

Shell, holding a 49% stake in the venture, seemed ready to transform Iraq’s industry. Ethane feedstock was to come from the BGC, a joint venture that sounded like a match made in heaven, processing gas produced at local oil fields. But like many a romantic comedy, the ending wasn’t what was expected.

As Shell bows out, citing a shift towards simplification over the complex web of investment and development, Iraq is left to ponder what could have been.

DISCLAIMER: Content published on this non-commercial advert-free platform may incorporate information generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and various other technological means, including translation and information published on Wikipedia. The articles presented may be satirical adaptations derived from one or more previously published sources, crafted to maintain factual accuracy while incorporating elements of satire. Individuals or entities mentioned in our articles are encouraged to notify us of any inaccuracies that may require rectification. Readers are advised to verify all information for accuracy and completeness independently. Shell Ditches Decade-Long Iraqi Dream was first posted on February 14, 2024 at 7:58 pm.
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New Found Gold cuts 7.56 g/t over 13.4 metres at Queensway project

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 10:58

The latest drill results have allowed New Found Gold (TSXV: NFG; NYSE-A: NFGC) to extend the near-surface, high-grade part of the Iceberg-Iceberg East zone to 655 metres. The zones are part of the 100%-owned Queensway gold project located 15 km west of Gander, Newfoundland.

Here are assays from three of the best holes in the Iceberg East zone. Hole NFGC-23-1235 returned 7.56 g/t gold over 13.4 metres, including 91.75 g/t over 0.8 metre. Hole NFGC-23-1608 returned 15.38 g/t over 5.1 metres, including 63.73 g/t over 1.1 metre. Hole NFGC-23-1942 returned 14.82 g/t over 3.5 metres, including 63.71 g/t gold over 0.8 metre.

“This first phase of near surface exploration drilling is complete at Iceberg East, and we are very pleased with the success of this shallow program that extended the KBFZ to 1.9 km of strike and identified new zones of continuous high-grade, near-surface gold mineralization,” said VP exploration Melissa Render.

“With only a few assays pending we are now ready to expand on what we know and target the Keats-Baseline Fault deeper down. There is currently over 1.9 km of strike to test at depth and the company will be utilizing the recently acquired seismic data to identify locations of interest within the KBFZ for immediate drilling.”

New Found has had many bonanza assays from the various zone at the Queensway project, some over 100 g/t gold.

Shell’s Crystal Ball Predicts a Gas-tastic Future

Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 09:55

Posted by John Donovan: 14 Feb 24

Oh, buckle up, earthlings, for a rollercoaster ride into the gas-laden utopia of 2040, brought to you by none other than Shell, the fossil fuel aficionado with a heart of… well, gas. In an earth-shattering revelation that’s sure to make your carbon footprints quiver in excitement, Shell has gazed into their crystal ball (probably powered by LNG, because why not) and declared that the world’s thirst for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is about to skyrocket by more than a whopping 50% by 2040. Why? Because apparently, switching from coal to gas is the new black, especially in China and those trendy South Asian and Southeast Asian countries hungry for economic growth.

In their latest attempt to paint the town green (with LNG, of course), Shell’s “LNG Outlook 2024” spills the beans on this gaseous future. They’ve crunched the numbers, probably in a room lit by the soft glow of burning LNG, to conclude that the global LNG trade will swell up to around 625-685 million tonnes per year, up from a mere 404 million tonnes in 2023.

Steve Hill, Shell’s own executive vice president for Energy (and possibly a wizard in predicting the future of gas), waxes poetic about China’s role in this gas-fueled saga. He says, “China is likely to dominate LNG demand growth this decade as its industry seeks to cut carbon emissions by switching from coal to gas.” That’s right, folks. The country whose coal-based steel sector belches out more emissions than the UK, Germany, and Turkey combined is now on a diet, and gas is its lettuce.

But wait, there’s more! Shell, wearing its bullish cap, foresees this gassy demand reaching heights of 625-685 million tons a year by 2040, a slight backtrack from their previous dreams of over 700 million tons. It seems even in their green-tinted vision, there’s room for a little reality check.

And let’s not forget Europe, the continent still nursing a hangover from its Russian gas binge. Despite a dip in demand, Shell assures us that Europe will still need a hefty 70 million tons per year of spot LNG supply by 2025. Because, you know, old habits die hard.

So there you have it, a peek into a future where LNG reigns supreme, coal gets the cold shoulder, and Shell sits on its throne, overseeing a world gassed up on its predictions. In this gas-tastic future, Shell’s not just blowing smoke; they’re blowing LNG. And they want us all to inhale deeply. Cheers to that, or as they say in the gas world, “Burn baby, burn!”

DISCLAIMER: Content published on this non-commercial advert-free platform may incorporate information generated by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and various other technological means, including translation and information published on Wikipedia. The articles presented may be satirical adaptations derived from one or more previously published sources, crafted to maintain factual accuracy while incorporating elements of satire. Individuals or entities mentioned in our articles are encouraged to notify us of any inaccuracies that may require rectification. Readers are advised to verify all information for accuracy and completeness independently. Shell’s Crystal Ball Predicts a Gas-tastic Future was first posted on February 14, 2024 at 6:55 pm.
©2018 "Royal Dutch Shell Plc .com". Use of this feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this article in your feed reader, then the site is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact me at john@shellnews.net

Royal Gold strikes deal with Centerra Gold to boost Mount Milligan mine life

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 09:28

Royal Gold (NASDAQ: RGLD) announced on Wednesday that its subsidiary, RGLD Gold AG, has executed a deal with Centerra Gold (XTSE: CG) and its unit Thompson Creek Metals Company to extend the life of Mount Milligan mine in British Columbia to 2035.

The mine, owned by Centerra, provides near-term cash and gold consideration to Royal Gold in return for long-term cost support.

Royal Gold will receive around $125 million in near-term consideration, comprising $24.5 million in cash and 50,000 ounces of gold, along with a long-term free cash flow interest in the Mount Milligan mine.

Starting in approximately 2030, Royal Gold will provide cost support payments for metal deliveries, which will serve as the basis for an immediate reserve increase and extension of the Mount Milligan mine life to 2035.

“Mount Milligan is a large and potentially long-life operation, and our support is designed to allow Centerra to extend the mine life and add long-term value for each company’s stakeholders,” Royal Gold CEO Bill Heissenbuttel said in a news release.

Centerra expects to complete a preliminary economic assessment in the first half of 2025 to evaluate a mine life extension beyond 2035.

Mount Milligan is located approximately 155 kilometres northwest of Prince George in central BC. It is a conventional truck-shovel open-pit copper and gold mine and concentrator with a 60,000 t/d capacity copper flotation processing plant. The mine produced 154,391 ounces of gold in 2023.

On Wednesday, Centerra announced that preliminary gold production in the final three months of last year was 129,259 ounces, up from 126,221 the quarter before. That took output for last year to 350,317 ounces, near the midpoint of its guidance range of 340,000 to 360,000 ounces.

The Canadian gold producer, which also operates the Oksut mine in Turkey, forecasts gold production of between 370,000 and 410,000 ounces in 2024, marking an increase of 11% over the midpoint of its guidance.

Copper output is set to come in at between 55 million and 65 million pounds, it added.

Shares of Royal Gold rose 0.7% by 11:30 p.m. EDT on the NASDAQ. The miner has a market capitalization of $7 billion. Centerra shares were up 6%. The company has a market cap of $770 million.

Vizsla expands British Columbia-focused portfolio with Universal Copper takeover

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 09:14
Aerial panoramic view of a copper mine in the interior of British Columbia. Stock image.

Vizsla Copper (TSXV: VCU; US-OTC: VCUFF) is set to expand its British Columbia-focused exploration portfolio after striking a deal to acquire Universal Copper (TSXV: UNV) and its flagship Poplar project.

Considered one of the most advanced pre-production copper projects in the province, Poplar currently hosts an indicated resource of 152.3 million tonnes at 0.32% copper and an inferred resource of 139.3 million tonnes at 0.29% copper.

The property covers 390 sq. km. of land in the province’s central interior region, and is located 35 km from the Huckleberry copper mine owned and operated by Imperial Metals (TSX: III).

In a news release, Vizsla said the combination of Poplar with its existing Woodjam, Redgold, Copperview and Carruthers Pass properties in BC offers shareholders exposure to a growing pipeline of projects. The 901 sq. km. Woodjam project, located 55 km east of Williams Lake, has been the company’s main focus. It comprises three deposits with a historical mineral resource estimate totalling approximately 1.7 lbs of copper and just under 1 million ounces of gold.

“With unprecedented demand for copper globally on the horizon, I’m very pleased that we’ve been able to execute again on our strategy of acquiring promising assets during a period of challenging junior equity markets,” Craig Parry, executive chairman, stated.

Vizsla will buy Universal’s shares on the basis of a 0.23:1 share exchange ratio, which represents a 60% premium based on the 10-day volume weighted price of UNV at C$0.015 as of Feb. 12.

Once the deal is completed, UNV shareholders will own roughly 23.3% of Vizsla’s outstanding share capital. UNV shareholders will vote on the offer at an upcoming meeting.

Shares of Vizsla Copper gained 5% by midday Wednesday to C$0.10 apiece. The copper junior, which spun out of Vizsla Silver (TSXV: VZLA) in 2021, has a market capitalization of C$11.3 million ($8.6m).

Universal Copper’s stock also gained 16.6% to C$0.018, with a market capitalization of C$1.9 million ($1.4m).

Oil Change International response to IEA Ministerial communique

Oil Change International - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 08:15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Nicole Rodel, Oil Change International – nicole@priceofoil.org 

Oil Change International response to IEA Ministerial communique 

February 14, 2024 – Ministers from around the world met in Paris this week for the International Energy Agency (IEA) 2024 Ministerial Meeting, and today released a joint communique to “guide the Agency’s mission going forward.” 

Taking place just a few months after the UN climate conference in Dubai, where governments around the world agreed for the first time to “transition away from fossil fuels,” today’s communique from the IEA’s 31 member countries lays out mandates on energy security, the fight against climate change, and exploring solutions to mobilize financial flows for clean energy transitions. 

Bronwen Tucker, Public Finance lead at Oil Change International responds: 

“Today’s commitment to make a finance roadmap to limit warming to 1.5°C and ensure a just energy transition is a welcome step, but in order to be useful, the IEA’s new research must continue with strong recommendations to immediately halt finance flowing to fossil fuels, and start recommending dramatically increased public finance on fair terms for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

“Governments promised to transition away from fossil fuels at COP28, and now they must use every tool, including the IEA, to develop robust plans to deliver the public finance needed to make these promises a reality, with rich countries paying their fair share. 

“We have enough public money to ensure a full, fast, fair, and funded fossil fuel phaseout and build a fair and renewable economy in its place – it’s just poorly distributed, flowing to fossil fuels and the super-rich instead of a new economy that benefits us all. This will benefit all of us, freeing up trillions in public funding to build a renewable future where everyone can meet their needs.

“Three years ago the IEA said that to keep global warming below internationally agreed limits there was no room for new oil and gas beyond existing fields. So why are oil and gas companies still at the table but civil society organizations are not? The IEA says it wants to support  a just, people-centered energy transition, but just like in this closed door meeting for ministers, we can’t achieve a full, fast, fair, and funded phaseout of fossil fuels without people.” 

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The post Oil Change International response to IEA Ministerial communique appeared first on Oil Change International.

Canada’s ambitious EV targets can’t be met without more support for mine supply

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 08:01

The Canadian government continues to forge ahead with new regulations for curbing and eventually ending sales of gas-powered vehicles. Canada’s Electric Vehicle Availability Standard published in mid-December calls for 100% zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV) by 2035.  

Under the new Electric Vehicle Availability Standard, auto manufacturers and importers must meet annual ZEV regulated sales targets. The targets begin for the 2026 model year, with a requirement that at least 20% of new light-duty vehicles offered for sale in that year be ZEVs. The requirements increase annually to 60% by 2030 and 100% by 2035. 

This is only one part of the government’s ambitious 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan put in place in 2022. The plan targets emissions reductions of 40% below 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero emissions by 2050.  

These ambitious goals are similar to other countries. The United States aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. The European Union targets reducing emissions by at least 55% below 1990 levels by 2030. Even China has set the goal to increase renewable energy as the primary source of energy consumption from current levels of around 15% to 25% by 2030 — and pledged to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.  

These goals are admirable, but the reality is that meeting them will require more critical minerals than are currently in the production pipeline.  

To meet international EV adoption targets, the world will need 50 new lithium mines, 60 new nickel mines and 17 new cobalt mines by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Cathode materials, anode materials and battery cells will also require additional raw material, adding up to about 388 new mines, it says.  

This gap in production for energy transition metals provides an opportunity for Canada. As of 2021, there were only 70 metal mines in Canada, this compares to 270 metal mines operating across the US Investments in clean energy need to grow from $1.3 trillion today, to over $4 trillion by 2030 to meet governments’ goals, according to the IEA.

Spurring new development 

To help support their decarbonization plans, governments around the world have introduced more than 100 new initiatives over the last few years, ranging from trade and investment policies to restrictions on imports, exports and international ownership of resources.  

Some initiatives aim to help spur investment into natural resources domestically (and with countries deemed ‘friendly.’ Some policies giving the state more control over and revenue from resources have been quickly rolled out, shifting the playing field for investors. Recent examples include Mexico nationalizing its lithium industry in 2022, and Chile raising copper mining royalties while increasing the role of state-owned miner Codelco. Other countries are also reviewing their mining policies and encouraging investment in the industry through tax and other incentives.  

The changing geopolitical environment has further complicated government goals. The supply chain issues during Covid-19, and the shift towards domestic production and ‘friend-shoring’ have seen governments favour domestic supplies of critical minerals and securing minerals from allied countries. All while many years of under-investment in mining infrastructure and processing facilities in Western nations presents big hurdles to self-sufficiency.

Production woes 

Geopolitics, namely tensions between the US and China and the West and Russia, have introduced new supply risks as global trade splinters. But even friendly nations could present supply risks caused by changing political landscapes, social unrest, or civil wars. For example, unrest in Mexico, Peru and Chile has led to strikes and temporary mine closures. While geopolitical risks are top of mind, the main supply constraint for critical minerals remains the need for increased mine production along with new infrastructure to refine the minerals, a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IREA) found last year (Geopolitics of the Energy Transition: Critical Metals).

To compound the problem, the recent decline in battery metal prices is further delaying mining projects due to lack of capital. Lithium prices have plummeted more than 80%, while other battery metal inputs, such as cobalt, nickel, and graphite are down more than 30%. If prices don’t recover, it will deepen shortages of materials in the coming years, putting the brakes on governments’ ambitious agendas to decarbonize their economies. 

Analysis from S&P Global Market Intelligence (June 2023) reports that the global average lead times for mine development from discovery to production is 15.7 years, and in Canada this timeline is about nearly 26 months longer.   

Investor interest in mining is currently very low partly because of the long-time horizon and the uncertainty that exploration stage projects will be economically viable. 

Mine developers in Canada have formidable barriers to overcome. One key problem is that funding for mine innovation per project, at a reasonable dollar amount, with a fair cost of capital, is limited. Lack of infrastructure in remote regions of Canada can also create extra barriers and increase the capital costs for mine developers. The Canadian government addressed the difficulties mining companies face in its 2022 Critical Minerals Strategy pledging that it would partner with the private sector to finance new projects, support building infrastructure needed to develop priority deposits, streamline permitting and regulatory processes and strengthen Indigenous engagement to boost mine supply.

The federal government currently offers incentives to mining companies mostly in the form of tax credits. Some of those include capital cost allowances; exploration expense claims, which are 100% deductible in the year they occur; and the ability to carry forward unused balances or transfer them to investors as flow-through shares. (Flow-through shares allow a mineral exploration company to “flow through” certain expenses to a shareholder; the expenses can then reduce the investor’s taxable income.) Other incentives include the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit and the Critical Mineral Exploration Tax Credit.    

Mining companies can also get federal government support through the Clean Growth Hub, Sustainable Development Technology Canada, and access joint funding and research opportunities through CanmetMining. 

More to be done 

However, to meet energy transition goals, more is needed. Ottawa could improve the chances of developing successful domestic supplies by making all steps of mine study, metallurgy, and materials testing in battery and vehicles eligible for flow-through tax credits until 2030. This should include any end customer testing by global OEMs or their battery manufacturers. Having a more defined and expanded flow-through tax credit system would increase markets’ willingness to fill the funding gap.  

To date, government incentives outlined in The Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy appear to help manufacturers (i.e. funding for processing plants and auto manufacturers) more than miners. This could be in part because processing plants and auto manufactures are usually larger companies and entering into contracts with them is easier for government. These facilities are also higher visibility, can often be built faster and provide jobs in more populated areas.  

Mining has made immense leaps in technology across recent decades, each step ushered into reality by rigorous third-party engineering and community support. However, critical mining innovation is distinct from precious metals mining innovation, — especially for lithium and graphite — and there are viable projects in critical minerals mining that are facing hurdles that deserve focused support from Ottawa.  

The plans announced to date are a start but more action is needed on already outlined plans, such as reducing red tape between federal, provincial and local governments, and increasing incentives (and longer time horizons) for investors. There’s also room to loosen restrictions on investor incentives, and make access to government funding and loan programs simpler.  

In short, the Canadian government should consider refining and redoubling its plans for industry support of mine project development, especially in the exploration and mine-site design and planning stages to support domestic production of critical minerals to meet the ambitious energy transition goals.   

Chantelle Schieven is head of research at Toronto-based Capitalight Research (capitalightresearch.com).

Horizon, Greenstone merge to create new gold miner in Western Australia

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 05:03

Australian miners Horizon Minerals (ASX: HRZ) and Greenstone Resources (ASX: GSR) have agreed to merge in an all-stock deal to create a new emerging gold producer in Western Australia’s goldfields.

The combined company, which will continue to trade as Horizon Minerals, would have global mineral resources of around 1.8 million gold ounces. It would also hold exploration assets in the gold mining hubs of Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie.

The transaction will see Horizon buying 100% of the ordinary shares in Greenstone and 100% of the listed Greenstone options. Upon completion, Horizon shareholders will own 63.1% of the merged entity, which will continue to operate under the Horizon Minerals brand. Greenstone shareholders will own the remaining 36.9% of the combined business.

“This really is a logical consolidation of complementary assets, which creates greater potential for Horizon to unlock the value within our longer project pipeline,” the company’s chief executive officer, Grant Haywood, said in the statement. 

The combined mining company will be pursuing its growth strategy from a position of greater market scale, underpinned by a cash and listed investments balance of about $14.9 million and a lower consolidated cost base, they said.

The merger transaction is anticipated to be completed in June 2024, subject to various customary conditions.

Four in custody over SSR gold mine landslide in Turkey

Mining.Com - Wed, 02/14/2024 - 03:44

A search for nine workers buried after a landslide hit SSR Mining’s (TSX: SSRM)(ASX: SSR) gold mine in eastern Turkey continued on Wednesday, the interior minister said, while local media reported that four people, including the operation’s field manager, were taken into custody as part of an investigation.

Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya said that police and military teams, mine rescuers and volunteers, totalling more than 1,700 search and rescue personnel, were on the ground to look for the missing workers. Five of them are believed to have been in a container hut, three in a vehicle and one in a truck, the minister said.

The incident happened on Tuesday at the Çöpler gold mine, 80%-owned by US-based SSR Mining, which suspended operations. The landslide, described by the company as a “large slip on the heap leach pad”, caused shares to lose more than than 50% of their value in both the New York and Toronto exchanges on Tuesday. 

Security footage shared on X shows a massive mound of soil, which authorities said had been processed for gold and piled on the hills, speedily crumble and flow into the valley in a deluge of earth and rocks, prompting mining trucks nearby to escape.

İliç Altın madeninde meydana gelen toprak kaymasında yeni görüntüler ortaya çıktı pic.twitter.com/PUypBnmfSM

— Politic Türk (@politicturk) February 14, 2024


Turkish authorities have launched a probe to determine the cause of the landslide and the safety conditions of the mine.

Cyanide leak fears

Environmental groups fear a cyanide and sulphuric acid leak, used in the process of gold extraction, could reach the Euphrates River, which flows from Turkey to Syria and Iraq.

Their worries stem from cyanide leak at the mine in 2020, caused by a burst pipe, which forced the mine’s suspension. Çöpler reopened two years later after the company was fined and a cleanup operation was completed.

“No contamination has been detected for now,” the Environment Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. 

Turkey’s mining industry has been marred by a series of accidents in recent years. In 2022, a coal mine explosion killed 41 workers. But the country’s worst mining disaster in record happened in 2014 also at a coal mine, which resulted in 301 workers dead.

The government is facing criticism from opposition parties and industry groups for ignoring Copler’s activities after the 2022 accident that also caused a cyanide spill.

“The government has preferred to side with mine owners, not with citizens,” Meral Aksener, leader of the opposition IYI Party, said in Ankara on Wednesday. “I specifically warned them in 2022 about the danger this mine poses, but they chose to turn a deaf ear.”

The Çöpler gold mine, in operations since 2010, is run by private company Anagold. It produced 56,768 ounces of gold in the third quarter of 2023 and is SSR’s second-largest producing gold mine.

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