Mineral Future

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  • #97640 Reply

      “The South Wales Steel Industry is being closed down this year.”

      Is it? This is Tata Steel or someone, isn’t it? I thought Tata were upgrading from coal-fired smelting to electric arc furnaces – albeit with a reduction of several thousand employees.

      “…we will have to build out our electricity grid by four times.”

      I know; it doesn’t look practical to me. This is an example of why we need a complete rethink of the economic system, leading to a new way of life – one that uses a lot less resources, especially energy.

      If the warnings had been heeded when they were given, starting half a century ago, we’d be in a much less urgent situation now.

      #97642 Reply
      michael norton

        Clark, I think TATA are closing down South Wales Blast Furnaces, before they have initiated electric steel manufacture.
        This will put many thousands out of work. Partially, this is said to help save the planet by stopping using coal.
        I doubt those put out of work by TATA will be much interested in Net Zero?

        #97660 Reply
        michael norton


          The French are reporting that the Russians have done scientific work around Antarctica and the Russians claim that the seas around The Falkland Islands have ten times as much Oil and Gas as was in the North Sea, a massive Bonanza for the United Kingdom.


          #97670 Reply

            “I doubt those put out of work by TATA will be much interested in Net Zero?”

            Do they want to avoid global disaster? Do they want their children and grandchildren to have decent lives?


            Careful what you wish for.

            The people you call “alarmists” are primarily scientists – in lots of different fields, including climate science, marine science, biology, palaeontology, agriculture, food security, energy – the list goes on and on. These are people who have made it their life’s work to develop expert understanding in their fields of study. The vast majority of them warn that humanity must change course or face disaster.

            If a mechanic tells you that your engine oil needs to be topped up or your engine will seize, and that your tyre is damaged and must be replaced or it will blow out, do you dismiss such expert warnings as “alarmism”?

            #97684 Reply
            michael norton

              James Lovelock is quoted as saying that the sustainable number of people of Earth, should be about half a billion.
              Well, we are now at about 8,100,000,000. In one and a quarter centuries the number has gone up by five times.
              If we do not use fertilizers, how will we feed all those people?
              If we are to have an all electric future, electric cycles, electric mobility scooters, electric motor cycles, electric cars, electric buses, electric train systems, electric heating, electric cooking, electrically manufactured metals, electrically powered computing,
              where will all that electricity come from?
              It is being said that more than 20% of the electricity use in the U.S.A. is for computing, more energy consumed than is used for all their flying.
              There certainly are no easy answers, unless billions die.

              #97703 Reply

                “If we do not use fertilizers, how will we feed all those people?”

                Eating less animal products would help – a lot. Human livestock outweighs humanity two to one! And most of those animals are going through their most intensive growth phase which requires intensive feeding, after which they are slaughtered. Or, they’re adult female cattle kept artificially in their most intensive suckling phase, which again requires a lot of food. Humans eating plant matter directly requires several times less land and fertiliser, and cuts back on methane emissions too.

                #97704 Reply

                  Vegan plant milks are several times more expensive than cow’s milk, partly due to economic pressure from the big marketers, and partly due to government subsidies, tax breaks etc. that were instigated decades ago. In a lot of coffee shops you have to pay extra for vegan milk.

                  #97705 Reply

                    Michael, the government should step in to help the TATA workers – this is the sort of thing that governments are meant to be for! Of course, this lot won’t do it.

                    This is the meaning of a “just transition”, and is why we need local People’s Assemblies, and national and international Citizens’ Assemblies. We need to decide together how to change, not have it imposed on us by a political class who serve Big Money and think they know what’s best for the rest of us.

                    #97741 Reply

                      Mineral shortages, and abusive extraction companies:

                      There’s already a shortage of critical minerals for renewable energy just as the industry’s human rights abuses come to light, by Hannah Sharland in the Canary

                      On Friday 17 May, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned of a looming shortage of critical minerals. Notably, these are materials that manufacturers use for renewable energy technologies. […] For example, the IEA calculated that announced projects will be able to meet only 70% of copper and 50% of lithium requirements in 2035. […] The IEA forecasts the combined market size of key energy transition minerals is set to more than double to $770bn by 2040 as countries target net zero emissions by mid-century.

                      So far, the IEA are highlighting lack of investment rather than an absolute shortage of minerals. But as with TATA, the transition is unjust. Workers are exploited and their local environment is devastated, with the minerals exported to richer parts of the world for products the locals don’t even use much themselves.

                      #97740 Reply
                      michael norton

                        Clark, I have no intention of ever giving up eating meat, although tonight I did consume home made pea soup, which was great. I think my main point is that, if we in the U.K. are to have a government envisioned “full electric future”, the government need to very clearly state how they aim for us to accomplish that government wish? How they think we can fund a grid build out to four times its present size (the present grid took one hundred years to achieve). How they will gain base load to balance renewable electricity.
                        How working class people will independently be able to move around to find work, for example.
                        What will be the end game for workers who dug coal or made steel with coal and limestone?
                        How they will make the water companies provide cheap, clean drinking water to us masses.
                        How they will bring back a working and affordable postal service.
                        How they will expand apprenticeships. Will they ban flying?
                        Will they ban dog ownership?
                        If humans must not eat meat, then neither should dogs.
                        What has New Labour to say? What will they do to make our lives better other than ULEZ?

                        #97748 Reply

                          Michael, think of WWII. Unimaginable changes were imposed on the British population – rationing, blackout, conscription, vehicles adapted to run on gas, transformation of all industry, evacuation of children out of cities… People accepted this because they understood that there was an emergency; they understood that the alternative would be worse.

                          Does that spirit still exist, or are we all too soft and lazy now?

                          If you’re not convinced that an emergency exists, you should be posting on glenn’s Climate Change Denialists (who get all shy) thread. If you are convinced, well I entirely agree that current political parties aren’t remotely up to the job; as you rightly point out, there’s an eff of a lot to get done. But it can be done; WWII proved that.

                          #97749 Reply
                          michael norton

                            Nearly a fifth of Ireland’s electricity is used up by data centres, and this figure is expected to grow significantly in the next few years.
                            If pensioners are asked to turn down their heating to save fuel.
                            If water companies increase their prices massively, causing poor people to vastly reduce their use of water. If ordinary working people are priced out of car ownership, then can’t reasonably get to work.
                            If rich people can fly but no tax is paid on aviation fuel.
                            Yet big tech can use as much electricity as it wants.
                            If rich people’s pets eat steak.
                            Will this fight to save the planet be equally shared by all?

                            #97763 Reply
                            Fat Jon

                              This electricity grid theory is projecting the current scenario many years into the future, without any thought for possible new technologies or inventions.

                              I have a battery in my car which allows me to drive 250 miles on one charge. Is it not possible that a battery the size of a fridge freezer could be installed in millions of homes to store local solar and wind generated electricity, and reduce stress on the national grid system?

                              How about a wind generator (preferably rotating around a vertical axis) on every lamp post in the country? Imagine how many street/motorway lamp standards there are in the UK, and how much power they use.

                              I don’t deny that if every gas and oil based appliance was switched to electric overnight, then our electricity grid would shut down due to excess demand, but necessity is still the mother of invention; and I am sure that systems will be invented to cope with demand. All it needs is long term planning.

                              #97767 Reply
                              michael norton

                                “All it needs is long term planning”

                                And there Fat John, you have put your finger on it.
                                South Wales steel is being shut down this year.
                                If the grid needs to be four times bigger, shall we get our steel from China, I understand they make their steel with coal, mostly brought in by ships using oil from Australia. Then other ships using oil bring the steel from China to Europe.

                                Is any planning/forward thinking “joined up”?

                                #97771 Reply
                                michael norton

                                  looks like U.K. is shooting for the stars with space-tech


                                  New launch site in Shetland


                                  #97772 Reply

                                    I guess, Michael, that steel/anything should be made near where the ore/raw material is to avoid having to transport the ore/raw material and just transport the finished steel/product, in an ideal world. However, I do understand geopolitics has a lot to say on this. Tata are only interested in their bottom line and they have been losing billions at Port Talbot for some time now. Whatever they are saying about responding to climate change is bullshit, imho. They are closing down a loss making asset and they care not at all about their employees nor the UK’s steel provision security.

                                    Michael, you might find this link about how pedestrians are 2-3 times more likely to be hit by an EV/Hybrid that a petrol or diesel car:

                                    British Medical Journal (22 May 2024): Pedestrians may be twice as likely to be hit by electric or hybrid cars, research suggests

                                    #97818 Reply

                                      Fat Jon, the trouble with “a battery the size of a fridge freezer […] installed in millions of homes” is the demand for minerals it would create – including ongoing demands because batteries degrade. More easily available minerals with lower energy per weight could be used for static batteries, but there is a simpler way that I very rarely see mentioned – phase change heat storage. Electricity is difficult to store in bulk, but the biggest energy demand is for heat, so why not store the heat directly? Simple, highly efficient (losses always being heat in any case), no moving parts, no fancy chemistry to degrade; with suitable construction units could last centuries.

                                      Michael, storage, of any sort, addresses “base load” – which I’ve put in quotes because it’s fast becoming an obsolete issue.

                                      #97819 Reply

                                        Michael, your May 22, 01:51 comment hits the nail on the head – this is a political problem rather than technological. The transition ought to be equitable.

                                        Is any planning/forward thinking “joined up”?

                                        No it isn’t, because political ideology since the mid 1980s has been “we must leave everything to the market”. That isn’t politics, it’s an abdication of leadership. What would have happened if Churchill’s government had taken that approach?

                                        #97829 Reply
                                        michael norton


                                          Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV)
                                          T0194 – Covered car parks – fire safety guidance for electric vehicles
                                          Interim guidance to support parking and/or charging of electric vehicles and the installation of electric vehicle chargepoints in covered car parks
                                          Issue | July 2023

                                          When the new recent airport car park went up inflames, we were told it was caused by a Diesel Landrover vehicle, the whole building, although only four years old is being torn down.

                                          Luton airport car park fire


                                          What we have not been told is if battery cars made this fire worse?

                                          #97862 Reply
                                          michael norton

                                            There is probably enough gathered evidence, now, to say with some certainty, that Electric Vehicles (meaning cars) catch alight, much less frequently than petrol cars.

                                            What is more important, is that when they do catch alight, they are very much more difficult to deal with, especially if they are in a building with other cars adjacent.
                                            A particularly dangerous effect is battery scooters or cycles being charged in apartments.

                                            “NEW YORK — A lithium-ion battery caused a deadly fire at a Harlem apartment building Friday, according to the FDNY.

                                            One person was killed, 17 were injured and dozens of people were displaced.

                                            The raging fire forced dramatic and rare rope rescues.”


                                            #97953 Reply
                                            michael norton

                                              There is not enough Copper in the Earth to supply the Future Net Zero Nightmare

                                              #97954 Reply
                                              michael norton

                                                Net Zero will need many times the resource of Copper, than physically exists in the earth.
                                                So, either we must give up on net zero or an alternative to Copper should be discovered?

                                                #97955 Reply
                                                michael norton

                                                  What is reality?
                                                  In a world of no Carbon, how will plants grow?
                                                  If we remove Carbon from the atmosphere the living world will no longer live.
                                                  So we must not remove Carbon from our atmosphere, if we are to have a living planet.
                                                  Why is Carbon, suddenly the culprit, Carbon is the living structure of our planet.
                                                  How can Carbon be bad.
                                                  That would be like saying life is bad?
                                                  Madness is doing its rounds, it is as if all knowledge and intelligence has been sucked out of people.
                                                  Carbon, is life, all life on Earth is Carbon.
                                                  You can’t make more Carbon, you can’t make more Iron, you can’t make more Gold, what there is, is what there is.

                                                  #97964 Reply

                                                    Michael, NOBODY is saying remove carbon from the world, at least, no one sane. They quite obviously mean carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas – and they are not advocating total removal. When they say “remove” what they really mean is stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by burning things. Burning is oxydisation, a chemical process involving heat, oxygen and some fuel, usually carbon based. No one is advocating removing all the CO2 from the atmosphere Michael. What “they” are advocating is to move away from our fossil fuel energy economy which releases 40 plus billion tonnes of CO2 in 2022 into the atmosphere over and above what is released by natural processes. That’s a big number Michael. Those 40 plus billion tons of CO2 have to go somewhere. Carbon, the element, is not the culprit. Nobody is saying carbon is bad.

                                                    #97973 Reply
                                                    michael norton

                                                      ET, thanks for your reply. Obviously I was being philosophical. I do think we are heading down a very dark alley. No real attempt to think through most of the ramifications for ordinary people, the near starving, the under developed, the barely earning enough, working people. No doubt judges and members of parliament and the managerial classes will cope in the new Green Dream World. If we in the U.K. would need to build out our National Grid by four times to be able to deliver all this electricity for lighting, heating, cooking, battery back-up, EV charging, AI centers, Electric Steel and so on, should all those plans be well advanced by now, should the workers have been trained by now? If there can not be enough Copper in the Earth for us to exploit, what will we do? There is only the Copper that exists, there is no more. If we shut down all our native coal mining, allow India to shut down our original steel making, are we to assume that we will buy our steel from India, China or elsewhere, where it is manufactured using coal? How will the world benefit then?
                                                      This new imagined Utopia is a mirage, you can’t use a wind farm to make a solar farm. You can’t use a solar farm to make a wind farm. You need concrete, which releases huge quantities of Carbon, back into the atmosphere. Almost everything that is needed in the modern world is based on minerals, fresh water and power and the workers, to make it happen. What I am trying to get at is that stunning levels of minerals, fresh water and power would be needed for this transition.
                                                      It is not gong to happen.
                                                      Apparently only about 3% of the world’s electricity is currently made by wind, solar or hydro.

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