Mineral Future

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  • #98765 Reply


      “Governments are mostly useless.”

      Once again I find myself in broad agreement.

      “Then you come to Democracy. Apparently, we are involved in the Ukraine War, because we believe in Democracy.”

      I suspect you’re nearly as cynical as I am.

      “What if the masses, do not think Net Zero is economically sustainable, do we just tell them to shut up? Do the Elite railroad through the legislation, irrespective of their electorates?”

      Hmm; I think you need to clarify your use of ‘we’!

      Humanity will stop burning fossil fuels for energy, one way or another. Let’s imagine that carbon dioxide wasn’t a greenhouse gas, so extraction can continue as usual. But we already need to go to Antarctica to extract just fourteen more years worth of oil. Sometime in the coming century, as remaining reserves become more distant and of lower quality, it will take more energy to extract, refine and transport them than we obtain by burning them. In technical language, EROEI falls to less than unity, so extraction becomes self defeating.

      So net zero happens either way; either we expand our alternative energy sources now, or we (or our descendents) run out of the only energy source that has been widely developed in fifty to a hundred years’ time. And as carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, they run shorter and shorter of fossil fuel in the midst of horrendous climactic changes. No fuel for the bulldozers when the sea walls need to be raised; we already burned it all in private vehicles.

      So governments must change economic conditions such that people will vote for net zero. But as you said, governments are mostly useless, so we need to force them to do it.

      #98772 Reply
      michael norton

        Clark, it does seem likely that the World will run out of Oil one day, how far off that day is, I personally have no idea.
        I doubt we would run out of Coal for hundreds of years.
        I doubt we would ever run of of Methane, Archaea are making Methane, continuously. Massive quantities are locked up in Clathrates. I do agree, we should be experimenting with different technologies, to come up with more long term, easily replaceable, effective solutions.
        We will run out of (EROEI) Copper. At present it is considered economically recoverable down to 1/200.
        This however, depends on location, most Copper is extracted in poorish countries and transported to richish countries.
        Like from Zambia to China. The Chinese had to rebuild the old British railway to cope with the extra trade, Zambia is inland. This would not be viable with low value reserves.
        If the Copper were next door to a Chinese industrial city, maybe they could drop down to 1/300.

        It is thought that there is not enough economically recoverable Copper to make Net Zero happen for the whole World?
        So, something will need to happen to replace Copper?
        Maybe Graphene will one day do the trick?

        In the mean time we should use what Copper we have for the Electricity Generation replacements. Not waste it on pure E.V. to line the pockets of Elon Musk, who is already worth many billions.

        #98788 Reply
        michael norton

          Clark, I would guess almost no government ministers have any understanding of the task that they have to go through.
          Number one, the governments in U.K. Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France, U.S.A., Canada are going to be changing.
          Do these people have any meaningful grasp of the tasks, ahead?
          I do not think they have, even a whiff of the task ahead.
          They need to initiate a build out of their grids by four or five times.
          they need to build out the renewable sector by five or six times.
          Most European countreys are in massive dept.
          Some owe three times their annual income.
          How will they get hold of the moneys for this transission?

          They may magic it up out of angel dust.

          #98850 Reply
          michael norton

            Around 2018, Norway discovered phosphate deposits almost equal to those in the rest of Earth combined.

            Southern coastal Norway has found massive reserves of Phosphate


            #98936 Reply

              Michael, EROEI does not apply to copper because EROEI is Energy Return On Energy Invested, but copper is not a source of energy.

              Here is an article that references a paper by some French government energy scientists:

              Oil System Collapsing so Fast it May Derail Renewables, Warn French Government Scientists

              You might find the following page interesting; it reckons about 39 years left of proven oil reserves at current usage rates, 150 years of natural gas and 400 years of coal:


              Money’s a funny thing; where do you suppose it all comes from? There seems plenty enough for billionaires. Elon Musk seems to think there’s enough to colonise Mars. But I guess you must be right Michael and the younger people should just murder each other until there’s few enough left that they can get by on whatever our generation doesn’t get round to burning and trashing.

              #98991 Reply
              michael norton

                Net Zero and the Nuclear Industry.

                Since Net Zero has been thought of, there has been a slight thawing of hatred against the Nuclear Electricity Industries.
                That hatred followed The Windscale fire in England,
                The Windscale fire of 10 October 1957 was the worst nuclear accident in the United Kingdom’s history, and one of the worst in the world.
                Three Mile Island partial meltdown in U.S.A. in 1979
                It was the worst accident in U.S. commercial nuclear power plant history.
                Chernobyl, Ukraine, 1986
                It is one of only two nuclear energy accidents rated at seven—the maximum severity.
                This might have been a main driver of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
                Then the BIG ONE
                A couple of Melt Throughs, much contaminent into the sea.
                Almost everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.
                One in England, one in U.S.A. one in the Soviet Union and another series of events in Japan.
                All these countries are good at engineering.
                So, most people started running frightened of Nuclear Power, countries like Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Germany started to no longer want the reactors on their land, although they would still purchase Electricity made by nuclear from France.
                This caused the world price of Uranium to crash.
                French Government owned Nuclear Fuel businesses in Niger, slowed right down their assets in Niger.
                As increased interest in getting to Net Zero happened along, the price of Uranium rose.
                The French Government were now more interested in revitalising their Niger concessions.
                They intended to “hose through” their biggest concession,
                not exactly what the locals wanted.
                France has been told to clear off.



                I guess France is the most dependent country in Europe for electricity made by Nuclear.
                France does not mine Uranium in France.

                So, we are coming to the same point, that for Net Zero, humungous amounts of minerals will have to be extracted, but they are mostly not going to extracted from Europe, apart from Russia, who we no longer wish to deal with.

                #98996 Reply
                michael norton

                  “The economic boom ended following the collapse in uranium prices, and IMF-led austerity and privatisation measures provoked opposition by some Nigeriens”
                  Maybe, if they are to be exploited, they want a steady income?
                  Maybe prices going up and prices going down, does not work for Niger?

                  If Europe wants to go to Net Zero, they will need minerals, yet these days the main mineral exploitation in Europe is COAL. In some cases Brown Coal.
                  Most other minerals come from poor countries, far away.
                  Lithium, Copper, Tin, Zinc, Lead, Cadmium, Titanium, Chromium, Uranium all these are excavated in other places.

                  I can’t see how the Green Future will be viable in Europe, what would we have to exchange?

                  #99037 Reply
                  michael norton

                    Hwaseong city, South Korea
                    a Lithium Battery factory has caught alight after some Lithium batteries caught alight.
                    Many dead.

                    This isn’t going to do the Lithium battery car industry any good.
                    I think as these battery pacts are so volatile, if the car battery firms are going to continue, they will have to find different packs.
                    There was a Telsa electricity Lithium battery plant that caught alight in Australia, before it was connected to the Electricity Grid.
                    “It burned for four days, prompting local authorities to send 150 firefighters and more than 30 fire trucks to the scene. After the investigation was finished, the probable cause was determined as being coinciding short circuits triggered by a coolant leak outside the battery compartment.” 2023

                    #99071 Reply
                    michael norton

                      six months on, reflections on the danger and damage caused by initially just one car on fire in a new multistory car park at Luton Airport.
                      Both in the Liverpool fire and in the Luton fire, it is thought a single car at each site caused massive loss.
                      Low probability but with massive damage, because of Lithium ion battery cars. Extra weight of each car, charge-points, close proximity of so much potential fire chemicals.

                      #99074 Reply
                      michael norton

                        “Most electric cars are made with lithium-ion batteries which can be easily recycled, as long as they are handled with care. It’s imperative that a professional disposes of the batteries because they contain toxins which can be harmful if not handled in the correct way.”
                        Can Electric Car Batteries Be Recycled? (Collect and Recycle Ltd)
                        In my view this is twaddle.
                        Even new batteries are a hazard to manage / store.

                        EV and their Lithium ion batteries are an abomination.
                        Nothing about it (other than zero tail-pipe emissions) makes sense.
                        It is all a ludicrous scam on the public but also on our environment, especially on fresh water usage/contamination.

                        #99130 Reply
                        michael norton

                          Wind turbine blades are designed to last twenty years, mostly these blades are not recycled but merely left on the ground or landfilled. The rest of the turbine is also expected to last twenty years.
                          Most towers are made of steel, some are prestressed concrete. If the tower is just made of steel, most of the wind turbine can be recycled, apart from the blades. If the concrete base is to be reused, that would be great, the base could be good for 200 years, however if the base were only designed for an eighty metre high turbine, it would not be suitable for a one hundred and sixty metre high turbine. Constructing roads four times wider ( at the bends) for ( later year) monster blades and building concrete bases to take future towers of three times the height, would greatly increase the borrowing requirements to complete the initial tasks, lenders of money, might not be convinced. This could be where governments could take a share?
                          Probably, the best bet for rebuilding a wind farm, would be to replace with the same height turbine, using most of the original infrastructure?

                          I would say we should think about making recycling more all encompassing.
                          If the blades could be made to recycled, that would be a great help.
                          If we construct the towers with just steel, that is easy to recycle but concrete is more problematic.

                          #99171 Reply
                          michael norton

                            16 MW wind turbine
                            Quote “The world’s largest offshore wind turbine has set a new world record for electricity generation by an individual wind turbine in a 24-hour period.

                            Goldwind’s GWH252-16MW intelligent wind turbine has a rotor diameter of 252 meters (827 feet). It also has a swept area of around 50,000 square meters (538,195 square feet) – the equivalent of seven standard football pitches. The turbine’s hub is 146 meters (479 feet) high – that’s as tall as a 50-story building.”

                            I expect this huge wind turbine will use an awful lot of minerals, I hope it is mostly able to be recycled?

                            #99178 Reply

                              “I expect this huge wind turbine will use an awful lot of minerals…..”
                              More than a coal/natural gas/oil/nuclear plant?
                              16 MW is quite impressive. It produced 384.1 megawatt-hours in 24 hours – enough to power nearly 170,000 homes Assuming it isn’t going to produce at full tilt all the time even half that is impressive.

                              #99382 Reply
                              michael norton

                                Well Sir Starmer is in and the conservatives have gone, now the way I remember it, Labour were big on supporting the coal industry and the miners and big on supporting the steel industry and the steel workers, particularly in South Wales, a real Labour Heartland.
                                As I understand it, one of the Port Talbot Blast Furnaces is being closed down, now, the other one is going to be closed down in the Autumn. These South Wales assets are currently owned by Tata.
                                If we are to build out our National Grid by four or five times and build overhead electrified railways and new nuclear power plants and many huge off shore wind turbines, also to renew the Royal navy fleet, we are going to need a huge amount of steel.
                                So an important task for Sir Starmer to jump right on is Port Talbot.
                                If he does not do this quickly you know he has been bluffing about hundreds of thousands of new green jobs.
                                We will need the steel even if it has to come from Asia but if it comes from Asia, it will still be manufactuired using coal but it also has to come across the Indian Ocean , then all the way around the Atlantic Ocean via South Africa, which will increase the Carbon footprint.

                                #99384 Reply
                                michael norton

                                  If Sir Starmer really wants new green jobs, in the U.K., then I think that also means making steel in the United Kingdom.
                                  The steel to create the overhead gantries for the electrified railways.
                                  The steel to build the six extra european pressurised reactors.
                                  The steel needed for a new Royal Navy.
                                  The steel needed to rebuild the E.V. multistorey car parks.
                                  The steel needed for the huge fleet of off shore wind turbines.
                                  The steel needed to make the gigafactories of Lithium battery production.
                                  The steel needed for E.V. manufacture.
                                  The steel needed to strengthen or replace the E.V. compliant road bridges and motorways.
                                  Although the new Green M.P.’s might object to steel being made in the U.K. using coal, what would be their solution?
                                  All the other green jobs, all need steel, steel first, everything else, afterwards.

                                  #99387 Reply

                                    Hi Michael

                                    Thanks for starting this illuminating thread and for the links – very helpful. You make many valid points, however I have the impression that you still support the use of fossil fuel and other finite resources to maintain our present lifestyle until we discover some other source of energy that can take their place. Is that a fair synopsis?

                                    None of your suggestions can have any impact whilst we have such a pronounced overshoot; we’re not just teetering on the edge of a precipice, but treading air six feet over the abyss. Reversing direction now would require an act of such magnitude even an experienced gymnast would struggle and we don’t have wings, despite the fantasy of many.

                                    It’s worth remembering it was 50 years since Limits to Growth was published – and ignored by the media and governments alike. Before that, James Lovelock and since, Bill Catton, William Rees and many others have warned of the consequences of unrestricted growth and where it would lead. We’re there now.

                                    What’s next – I have no idea, but a sudden collapse in our numbers would certainly help. I remember being persuaded by the arguments of Dan Brown’s character, Bertrand Zobrist, who had developed a highly contagious virus that would render 90+% of humans infertile. He succeeded in the book version, but not the movie.

                                    The author makes a number of compelling arguments for the plan and provides robust evidence to support them – exponential growth, overshoot, pollution and eventual ecological collapse and extinction of many species, including Homo Sapiens. It was published in 2013 so the population has grown by another 2 billion since then.

                                    What should we do? Stop extracting and burning fossil fuels would be a good start. Cleaning up the mess we’ve made sounds simple but is far from that. There’s an entertaining video that plays out the scenario where humans simply disappeared one day and what happens next. Utopia it’s not.


                                    #99389 Reply
                                    michael norton

                                      Zero Carbon by 2025 – next year
                                      All U.K. coal electricity production plants to be shut down by 2024

                                      Can anybody else see through this hype?

                                      I thought about one third of the electricity production in the U.K. was fed by North Sea Gas?

                                      #99405 Reply
                                      michael norton

                                        Sir Starmer is making a move on Tata and Port Talbot.

                                        “There is more money available for the steel industry under our plans for government, but that’s about making sure we make this transition with the private sector together and recognise how we have to make sure that decarbonisation is not de-industrialisation and we’ve got to do that together.
                                        But there is a better deal available for Port Talbot and the steel industry as a whole – I’m sure of that.”

                                        Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said the steel industry had been decimated.

                                        She said it needed investment, job guarantees and procurement legislation that “all United Kingdom infrastructure projects should use U.K. steel”.

                                        “We need to back British steel, we need to back British business – investment is going to be key,” she told the BBC.

                                        I agree, what future will we have if the U.K. buys all needed steel from abroad, it certainly will not reduce the Carbon released into the atmosphere, by transporting it half way around the world.

                                        #99408 Reply

                                          All the iron ore and coking coal for making steel at Port Talbot is imported. Due to the move away from manufacturing industries in the UK steel demand within the UK has plummeted over the years. The plan is to move to an electric arc furnace and process scrap iron. I don’t disagree that people losing their jobs and the UK losing steel capacity is a bad thing Michael but I believe Tata has been losing millions over the years at their Port Talbot site and Tata will do what’s good for Tata’s bottom line regardless of any government intervention.

                                          #99410 Reply

                                            Michael, could I ask you a favour please?

                                            #99422 Reply
                                            michael norton

                                              Yes Clark.
                                              If it is private you have my permission to ask the Mods to let you have my email.

                                              #99425 Reply

                                                Michael, no it isn’t private. I’d just like you to consider other contributors’ comments more thoroughly and engage with their questions more, to help the discussion focus and develop.

                                                #99427 Reply
                                                michael norton

                                                  well, now you are asking. I can straight away tell you what I do not think is a good idea.
                                                  Pure battery vehicles. The phenomenal wastage of finite resources, including fresh water, you could not make it up, it must be the most evil invention ever, to burn through minerals for almost no gain, unless your gain is to make money and help destroy the world, even more quickly. Elon Musk currently makes most of his vehicles using Aluminium.
                                                  Aluminium uses vast quantities of electricity, in its manufacture, it is only really viable with hydro power.
                                                  Now Bauxite is mined in Canada, they send it across the Atlantic to Iceland.
                                                  In Iceland they have inexpensive hydo power and a lot of it spare, as so few persons live on Iceland, they use this coastal “cheap” energy to turn Bauxite into Aluminium.
                                                  However as so few live in Iceland, they can not consume much Aluminium. So the Aluminium, is shipped back across the Atlantic to North America. This shipping to and fro uses liquid fuel on a large scale.
                                                  Making steel using coal in China, then shipping that steel to Europe, so virtue waving Europeans can say, look at us, we no longer use coal to make steel, are we not god-like, whilst driving around in their Tesla behemoths, imagining they are doing their bit for the planet. The other material that Elon Musk uses to make his vehicles is stainless steel.
                                                  That has chromium, that comes from central Africa, probably gotten using something approximating slave labour.
                                                  Stainless is bad for the planet, in many ways. My guess, how we could transition, is to use Methane.
                                                  As I understand it, the most efficient internal combustion engine is a Methane engine. You can use Methane engines on ships. You can use Methane to make Electricity.
                                                  You can use Methane engines for trains, for excavators, for farm machinery, for heating and cooking.
                                                  You can also make a hybrid car.
                                                  So, use a battery pack, perhaps one twentieth the size of a Tesla, but with a constant revolution running Methane I.C.
                                                  Twenty more cars could run like this, compared to a Tesla. So, the precious metals could be eked out, somewhat.

                                                  #99429 Reply
                                                  michael norton

                                                    There is a defining metal for our age, if you do not count steel, we have unlimited amounts of Iron. That defining metal is Copper. There will not be enough Copper, to do everything we wish to do.
                                                    My suggestion would be to use the Copper for electricity generation, such as in turbines.

                                                    #99432 Reply

                                                      Hi Michael

                                                      Yes, I agree with all you wrote. Globalisation is a nightmare in ecological terms.

                                                      But are you of the opinion that we should still extract oil and keep cars running on hydrocarbons of some description? And ships and airplanes? In other words, maintain the status quo until an alternative energy source can be developed? If we continue the consumption of oil at present rates, we only have a couple of decades left in reserves. Is this really a wise use of the resource – or just another desperate act of selfishness and folly?

                                                      I realise it’s unfashionable, but I fully support the brave JSO activists – many of whom are my vintage or older. I would go much further and target air and shipping ports too. One flight from South Africa to London creates more emissions than 3,000 UK homes do in one year.

                                                      This civilisation is addicted to oil and the modernity its created. That addiction will kill us shortly. Going cold turkey will be extremely unpleasant, but is probably our only option now. Finding another energy source to replace oil is akin to giving methadone to a heroin addict; it doesn’t work and may be equally as harmful.

                                                      My question was ‘what should we do?’ – and the only answer I can think of is to prepare for, what now seems to be, the inevitable collapse, making safe (as mush as possible) all the existential risks to life on the planet that we’re responsible for, whilst preserving as much of the invaluable wisdom and knowledge we’ve retained over all our history, for the benefit of those who survive this era.

                                                      Thanks for replying.


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