Mineral Future

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  • #99434 Reply

      Just fact checked myself and the emissions claim – and now doubt my accuracy, before anyone else takes the trouble. There is some debate whether aircraft or road vehicles have greater total emissions, but each have unique additional environmental impacts and both are detrimental. Using the heroin analogy, it’s like comparing a smoker with a mainliner. Neither is good for you.

      #99436 Reply

        Michael, thanks.

        Methane is a hydrocarbon; CH4. It’s the lightest, simplest hydrocarbon, and the one with the least carbon-to-hydrogen ratio.

        When you burn methane, about half the heat energy you get comes from the carbon, and about half from the hydrogen. This is easy to see by considering the oxygen you burn it with. Two oxygen atoms combine with the one carbon to make carbon dioxide, CO2. Similarly, two oxygen atoms combine with the four hydrogen atoms to make two molecules of water (vapour) H2O.

        Using only methane would have been a great idea forty years ago; it would have bought us time. Unforgivably, we’ve already nearly burned through the “carbon budget” for half a chance (50:50) of a safe future. Even the Green Party’s policies smash us through the ceiling by 2037, and that’s if the IPCC haven’t misestimated:


        We really are up shit creek.

        #99435 Reply
        michael norton

          What we need to do, first of all, is to calm down, to accept, that it makes almost no difference if you believe in Global warming – or not. It is like trying to grasp if god exists – or does not exist.
          If god exists, he exists, you wanting him to exist makes no difference.
          What we have to quickly grasp, is the difference between infinity and a finite resource.
          The world would have seemed like infinity, when the first (known ) cave painting was done, in Celebes. more than fifty thousand years ago.
          Mankind had moved through South East Asia, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore and Indonesia and in to Australia.
          The world was boundless, yet there were only a few pioneers. Had they have moved in their millions, they would have killed all the Indian elephants, all the Komodo Dragons, all the Warty Pigs, all the marsupials, all the monotremes, all the geese, all the birds of paradise, all the everything.
          In Australia, they had a thing called “The Dreaming”
          this was a representation, maybe sixty thousand years ago, when modern humans walked into Australia, it was wide-open.
          There were fantastical creatures, unknown to the outside world, the new comers circumnavigated the exterior of Australia. like in other lands, with their technologies they virtually wiped the megafauna from the land. Soon they came to understand that resources are not infinite, they have to be carefully managed.
          The next fifty thousand years in Australia, natural resources, mainly animals were treated with respect, they now knew that the world was not without end, you have to be modest and respectful and careful.

          I could say a lot more about Australia but it is very upsetting and persons of delicate nature would be shattered.

          #99438 Reply

            Shibboleth – “the only answer I can think of is to prepare for, what now seems to be, the inevitable collapse”

            The fossil fuel collapse seems inevitable, but there is still much that could be done to soften the blow. The trouble is, there’s no money in those measures; we the people need to force the issue:


            #99439 Reply

              Michael, indeed; humans have been causing extinctions for a long time. It’s really ramped up recently though. Those ancient peoples learned their lesson. But money has no soul; extinctions now are not deliberate, they’re side effects of people just doing their jobs, and no one in particular is directly responsible, it’s systemic, so we have to change the system, and that’s hard.

              #99490 Reply
              michael norton

                “The US has announced new rules targeting firms from China and other countries that are routing shipments of steel and aluminium through Mexico to try to evade tariffs.

                The White House said firms shipping via Mexico must now prove the origins of their products if they want to avoid the border taxes.

                The move comes as President Joe Biden seeks to prove his tough-on-China credentials as he faces off against his predecessor, Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential election.

                The measures expand protections for US steel and aluminium-makers that were launched under Mr Trump in 2018 in the name of national security.”

                I very strongly think that the united Kingdom needs to keep a steel Industry, possibly we also need to keep out steel from overseas. How can we continue as a country, if almost everything is made overseas?

                As I have said, again and again, if we are to have an electric future, we will require very large quantities of steel, to make the electric future happen.

                #99494 Reply

                  Michael, consider this. If the country doesn’t have the ore for making steel then they need to import it to do so. To create a ton of pig iron, you start with 2 tons of ore, 1 ton of coke and a half ton (0.45 metric tons) of limestone. Currently all the ore and coking coal to make steel is imported into the UK. I don’t know about the limestone. To make one ton of steel requires 3.5 tons of raw materials to be shipped to UK. In an ideal world it would make sense to ship the finished steel to where it’s needed and process the ores near to where they are found so as to reduce the cost of shipping 3.5 tons of raw material to one ton of steel. The shipping capacity can then be used for other things as required.
                  Also, if government subsidises these inefficient activities it’s at the expense of that money going somewhere else such as say, the NHS.
                  Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world so the geopolitics of steel supply is a concern. However, if you have to import the ores to make the steel in the first place then you are subject to concerns about the security of that supply instead of the supply of steel from elsewhere. The availability of scrap within the UK is enough for the UK’s demands for steel as things stand. I have read somewhere, I don’t remember, that the UK is considering reopening some mines for ore but I haven’t verified this is the case.

                  #99497 Reply
                  michael norton

                    there is metallurgical coal in Cumbria.
                    I would think it is almost certain that there are iron deposits in the U.K.
                    I expect we more or less stop digging for iron, when somebody found it was cheaper to get it from abroad.
                    However, always getting stuff cheaper from abroad does not help young people get into useful jobs in Britain.
                    There is unlimited limestone in South Wales and unlimited fresh water.
                    What is lacking is a backbone.
                    Or we become a hollowed out shell.
                    Like parasites.
                    Living off the efforts of others in far away lands.

                    #99498 Reply
                    michael norton

                      This legume might come in handy for biofuels
                      Can withstand drought. Can withstand extreme heat. Can withstand flooding.
                      Can fertilize the soil as it is a legume, meaning it fixes nitrogen from the soil.
                      Can help ease erosion.
                      Very useful for bees.
                      Can be planted in connection with other crops.
                      All round good egg.

                      #99507 Reply

                        @michael Norton

                        “What is lacking is a backbone.
                        Or we become a hollowed out shell.
                        Like parasites.
                        Living off the efforts of others in far away lands”

                        Or we do without and salvage what we’ve already extracted and used. The more we mine, drill and consume, the more we consign our children to penury and a life full of uncertainty and fear.

                        We run out of oil in two decades at current consumption. Beyond fossil fuel and mineral depletion there are so many other catastrophes coalescing to make human survival improbable.

                        But keep on keeping on.

                        #99508 Reply
                        michael norton

                          The government will no longer defend a decision, made by the previous government, to allow a controversial new coalmine in Cumbria.
                          What Sir Keir and his deputy do not have a backbone.
                          They have no idea of what they talk.
                          If we in this country are to have an electric future, first, we must work out how we gain huge amounts of steel.
                          We will need more steel than can be imagined, far more than melting scrap, using electricity.

                          #99509 Reply
                          michael norton

                            Let’s say we could melt a washing machine down and recreate a new washing machine by electricity.
                            Has anybody worked out how much this new washing machine would cost?
                            My bet would be multiple times the cost of the first one.
                            I remember fifty years ago seeing French women doing their washing, in a river.
                            That’s all well and good if you live in the mountains, not so good if your water is the manchester Ship Canal.

                            #99513 Reply

                              Your bet would be a loser Michael. It would cost the going rate for whatever level of washing machine it is. Compare the relative costs of a washing machine now than say 40 years ago, it’s waaaaay less of an expensive commodity as it used to be. By that I mean it’s way less a chunk of your wage than it was years ago.

                              Steel is the most recycled material on the planet with something like 95-98% recycled. For the needs of the UK there is more than enough scrap steel (rebar from demolished buildings, scrapped cars, scrapped everything else steel) to supply its needs. That’s not my opinion, that is a fact. Granted, it’s largely because there isn’t any real heavy steel using industry in the UK anymore but that’s a different story. They are not recycling if it’s not economical.

                              Michael, heat energy is heat energy whether it comes from electricity or fossil fuels (or anywhere else). You give me the impression that you think heat from electricity is somehow an inferior type of heat. It’s not, it’s the same. It probably takes more energy to process ores to make steel from scatch than to process scrap. It’s probably cheaper too given that the scrap is in the UK already and you don’t have to ship in the ore, coking coal etc. It also makes sense to reuse it, it’s a model for all the other resources we don’t reuse as well.

                              I rarely read sky news but this piece on the UK steel industry is actually quite informative.

                              #99514 Reply
                              michael norton

                                Well you would not be surprized that I do not agree.
                                One aspect of this is jobs for young people.
                                TATA intend to shut down the Steel Yards in South Wales, they were considered the largest in Europe.
                                They used pig, limestone, water, col.
                                At one time it all came from South Wales.
                                In Merthyr they consider the Industrial revolution started there.
                                Iron ore in the ground, abundant Limestone, abundant coal and abundant fresh water and access to a deep water port, for export. No electricity.
                                Almost all steel is produced by coal, why delude ourselves it will be made in bulk by electricity.
                                What are the young to do for a living – sell each other drugs or mobile phones?
                                They deserve a proper, realistic future.

                                #99515 Reply
                                michael norton


                                  My father lived in Merthyr and thought it wold be instructive for me to understand the past.
                                  Stunningly badly paid employment, these days, they have been let go to the wind.
                                  Why should people be allowed to rot, just because of Carbon Zero, what are we trying to save.
                                  Is it people or do the people not matter,
                                  no good saving the planet, if their are no people left to look and wonder.

                                  #99516 Reply
                                  michael norton

                                    Let us imagine you are building an aircraft carrier for the royal Navy, or a Nuclear powered submarine, or a space rocket or a nuclear power station with a massive containment dome and a 750 ton reactor pressure vessel.
                                    Where would be your first choice to obtain the steel.
                                    Would it be India, would it be China, would it be to melt old washing machines?
                                    I think you might want to understand the provenance of your Iron, the provenance of your steel.
                                    I think you would want documentation that recorded every stage of that steel.

                                    If I am wrong, I am sorry.
                                    I hope you can sleep easy knowing that your nuclear power station has no provenance for the steel, lets hope the roof does not split?

                                    #99529 Reply

                                      @ Michael Norton:

                                      “what are we trying to save..is it people or do the people not matter, no good saving the planet, if their are no people left to look and wonder. imagine you are building an aircraft carrier for the royal Navy, or a Nuclear powered submarine, or a space rocket or a nuclear power station with a massive containment dome and a 750 ton reactor pressure vessel”

                                      People are trying to preserve the environment and ecosystems from destruction by our exploitation and waste of the earth’s natural resources. None of the examples you provide are essential for human survival; all of them contribute to the problem. The last 200 years have been a blast for humanity, but the party is well and truly over and like any morning after, it’s time to sober up and face reality.

                                      #99530 Reply

                                        I meant to add this link to the above post. Being a snowflake in an avalanche – Bill Rees, July 2024

                                        #99532 Reply
                                        michael norton

                                          I am not in favour of a new fleet of nuclear power stations but the masters have said because of Global Warming, we need them.
                                          Round my way, about ten years ago, our council said, because of Global Warming we will now only collect the rubbish every three weeks. I believe that the only country in the world to drop nuclear bombs on people, were the Americans, our friends. I believe that in the U.K. our civil nuclear programme was started, as a sort of sop to the public “Too cheap to meter” but the real reason was to get scientists and technicians to train in the nuclear industries, that way they could have a nuclear deterrent
                                          but it was sold to the public as a benefit.
                                          After a few nuclear accidents, most people went off nuclear power stations – hey presto – Global Warming – the new saviour of the nuclear industries, is it a coincidence that in parallel with a new fllet of nuclear power stations we are also having a new fleet of nuclear powered, nuclear armed submarines, I think, once again, we are being played.

                                          #99536 Reply

                                            It appears someone is listening to you, Michael. Steelmakers fire up to swap centuries-old reliance on coal for electric arc furnaces

                                            If we wait until government actually start implementing policies that have a positive impact, it will be far too late. When the horrors of plastic pollution in the oceans became painfully apparent two decades ago, it was years until they finally imposed a 5p charge on carrier bags. Wonderful. Has it worked? What about the preponderance of plastic wrapping on food stuffs and goods? A token gesture to appease the public disquiet at the time, but in reality, no improvement whatsoever. Indeed, plastic pollution is now so advanced that it is found everywhere on the planet, including inside us and other creatures.

                                            A significant part of my career was managing the care of people with severe vascular disease and preventing limb loss or wound salvage. Invariably, a discussion on smoking would take place with those whose habit was the primary contributory factor – with some even in their thirties. Typically, there were two reactions; denial and acceptance. Only those in the latter category had a chance of preventing an amputation or early death.

                                            I see the same behaviours in the overshoot debate where the stakes are of a different magnitude altogether. The minerals and ore you suggest we extract are a finite resource. At present consumption, we will exhaust the remaining reserves of oil and gas before the end of this century. In the lifetime of children born today.

                                            We’ve been easily seduced by the glamour and convenience of modernity, but the monster we’ve created is killing us in the process. Denial or acceptance?

                                            #99537 Reply
                                            michael norton

                                              If the blast furnace closures proceed, the UK will be left as the only G20 country without the ability to make its own steel, just as the chaos of global supply chains has come to the fore with the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

                                              “I think the onus is on us to explain why we know better than the other 19,” said McDonald. “We want to be able to be sure we can make steel whatever happens in the world.”

                                              Yes, would will soon be the only partner of the G20 not able to make steel from Iron Ore, yet the Industrial Revolution started in Britain, how the others must laugh at us.

                                              #99539 Reply
                                              michael norton

                                                The start of Labour chaos
                                                Labour do an about turn and claim they never said they are going to ban new oil & Gas wells.

                                                #99543 Reply
                                                michael norton

                                                  The search for Copper in Europe is picking up pace, Spain to re-open a polluted mining area in Andalucia


                                                  So we seem to have some choices, if we decide we want a more or less Electric Future, we will require unimaginably huge quantities of metals. Do we just expect other poorer countries to pollute their lands to give us the Copper or are we prepared to poison our own lands to win the Copper?
                                                  Or do we have a less voracious future, with more modest expectations?

                                                  #99555 Reply

                                                    As we have been discussing shipping in this thread some might find this piece from Naked Capitalism (again!) interesting:
                                                    How Far Goods Travel: Global Transport and Supply Chains from 1965-2020

                                                    I had to read it a few times to get the full gist of it.

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