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geowizard
15:45:22 Wed
Feb 27 2013

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The Next Frontier of Mining


Ever wonder what is the NEXT Frontier of Mining?:confused:

http://www.mining.com/the-next-frontier-of-mining-44574/

Note part about platinum and gold rich asteroids!

- Geowizard

  
overtheedge
18:30:48 Wed
Feb 27 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Been reading science fiction since I was 6yo. I still enjoy it.
I will admit that science fiction tends to guide the future, but much of the infographic is full blown hard sci-fi.

The problem? Logistics coming, going and the market.

If we ever return to the moon, then lunar mining is probable. Asteroid mining improbable.
Returning material to earth? Not price competitive.

Deep sea vents? Improbable due to environmentalists already involved in protecting the as well as international laws. There physical act would be too high cost to be competitive.

If the market price gets too high, there is the psychological desire to go after it. The price is high for one reason only: scarcity. It is scarce for only two reasons: scarcity and cost.

The market is small. A market can NEVER get large without supply to meet that demand.

Now flood that small market with a scarce commodity. Market price collapses, miner can't pay out-of-this-world expenses and goes bankrupt.

Perhaps we can get the taxpayer to foot the tab for this too! No, only the very rich can afford these highly speculative shares. Attach your name to a sci-fi size project. Can't take it with you, so spend some and gain a bit of immortality. You really don't think Virgin Galactic will ever be profitable in its current form, do you?

Now consider the actual process of mining in deep sea or deep space. Autonomous robotics; impossible and will probably remain so. Remote-control robotics; possible but time lag will lower production to a standstill. Recall those need over-blown RC cars running around on Mars? On the seabed this would be the most practical. Human miner; best for productivity but extremely expensive in consumables.

Oh well, love to talk sci-fi. But I live in a world dominated by science and controlled by bald monkeys.

But it is a cinch that we will be re-mining every waste dump on the planet. This will be a political decision and supported by the environmental community with taxpayer paid cost off-sets aka subsidies. Like I said, "... bald monkeys."
eric

  
jjedwab
09:36:53 Thu
Feb 28 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Actually, we have already Pt-bearing asteroidal deposits on earth, i.e. Sudbury and Bushveld. Among meteorites collected on earth, metal concentrations (PGM and Au) are quite unknown. Situation is even worse among lunar rocks. One could as well mine terrestrial basalts.

Refuses from large industrial operations are much more promising, e.g. phosphogypsum (PG), produced by phosphoric acid and fertilizer manufacture. It contains fair amounts of trace elements, among which REE. One billion tons PG are waiting in the dumps of Florida.

  
dredger
06:14:51 Sun
Mar 3 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Hey Professor JJ,

Happy to see you posting,smile:

As always, you have got me thinking, confused: almost doubling my short attention span, haha.

"are quite unknown, asteroidal deposits on earth",

I have thought about how " many " asteroidal deposits " have hit the Earth, :confused:.

And I was wondering if you might agree with me if I assumed that " if ", earth never had a atmosphere, like the moon,? do you think the earth might covered with craters like the moon, ???.

phil.

  
jjedwab
16:31:47 Mon
Mar 4 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Actually, the work has already been done by John Saul (reference should be easily retrieved). He discovered that the earth surface is covered with impact craters if one uses maps made of 3D plastic sheets, lightened by a side lightening. JJ

  
jjedwab
16:53:26 Mon
Mar 4 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Here is the ref. and the text of J.M. Saul's paper:
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1978Natur.271..345S

Before flying to extraterrestrial asteroids for PGM-exploration, I would invest in a garage installation of a little factory of 3D-plastic maps.

JJ

  
geowizard
19:01:37 Mon
Mar 4 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

JJ,

Thank you for your contribution to understanding this "matter" from a terrestrial perspective!

Your much earlier information about microprobe analysis has furnished myself and others with lots of "brain food". :smile:

I remember reading a news article years ago that mentioned the "cosmic dust" that can be found in snow. Because the snow is pure and the earth is constantly bombarded with cosmic dust, that dust accumulates in the snow during winter. Snow can be collected and thawed to pure water with particles of cosmic dust than can be examined microscopically.

- Geowizard
[1 edits; Last edit by geowizard at 19:02:20 Mon Mar 4 2013]

  
jjedwab
16:41:49 Tue
Mar 5 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

The problem is that dust found in snow (even polar) is contaminated by fair amounts of man-made welding spherules. Some years ago, I escaped these by analysing the inner layers of oceanic Mn-nodules, which grow very slowly, and long before man's advent. Not only were Fe-Ni-spherules found, but also Fe-Ni flakes. No PGM were found. Mn-nodules are a fine, illimited and cheap source of cosmic matter.

JJ

  
dredger
05:44:55 Wed
Mar 6 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Hey Professor JJ, :smile:
“ THANKS FOR THE INSPIRATION, much appreciated.
Also very interesting,
Before flying to extraterrestrial asteroids for PGM-exploration, I would invest in a garage installation of a little factory of 3D-plastic maps”.
“One billion tons PG are waiting in the dumps of Florida”.
How about this, please correct me if I stuff up ,,
They say,!
All of these milling processes produce mineral concentrates that contain a substantially higher proportion of REs. But there’s still much work to be done to separate the concentrate into its constituent REEs, and this is why things start to get really tricky.

Rare Earth Metal
. "Rare earth" metals aren't as rare as they sound — in fact, their light
weight and high magnetic,
Specific Gravity 6.67

Rare Earth Elements
Specific Gravity is approximately 4.3 - 5.9 (heavy for non-metallic minerals). Extreme variation caused by variable composition of component metals.
Milling
After rocks containing REEs are removed from the ground, they go to a facility where the valuable mineral material in the ore is separated from impurities. This process is known as milling or beneficiation. Here’s how it works:
The mined ore is crushed into gravel, which in turn is ground up into progressively smaller particles. These particles are sifted and sorted by such means as flotation and electromagnetic separation to extract usable material and set the waste products – called tailings – aside. This milling process is usually carried at or near the mine site, with the tailings stored in special facilities built to rigorous engineering and environmental standards.
For scarce resources like Heavy Rare Earths, this beneficiation process could be considered critical, “because it takes advantage of every scrap of material available. This practice can also make a marginal mining facility more practical than it might otherwise be”,
“ and may in fact be used to extract ore from a facility previously believed to be exhausted.”

Best Field Indicators are luster, fracture, color,

“Radioactivity, “

Associations, environment and specific gravity.

I say.
So, my line of thought is as follows,
My line of mining, is dredging, and I get plenty of pre-milled materials, out of my river, .

Two Points of interest Here,
1, I would not be that disappointed if I find there are “ no “ Ree or Rem in my river, I will be happy “ if “ I can fine tune my recovery concepts to the point where “ I could “ recover Rem and Ree, leaving My Au, Pt and diamond recovery would result in being very much more accurate, anyway.
2, is “ if ” no one knows what they will find, if they do not have a method or concept to find it with,??.
3, we do not know where erosion has deposited a payable resource. ??.
Key words of inspiration,
Magnetic,
Specific Gravity,
Radioactivity,
Sub key word.
Classification,

Question,??, what size would
“ where the valuable mineral material in the ore is separated from impurities “.
Be???, 5micron,? 25micron, -250micron.bigger, ??, 2mm,
Question, de-mag maybe be required??. And rare earth magnets as opposed to a electric magnet, when de-maging is required, ??.
Question, could there be a small amount of areas or rivers anywhere that contain too much worthless magnetic materials to allow for the following concept to work, ??. over loading the concept,??, answer, maybe, maybe not, ???.

Back asap.

  
dredger
05:48:42 Wed
Mar 6 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Sorry, a drawing of a magnetic seperater did not show, will attempt sketch< back asap,

  
jjedwab
13:20:15 Wed
Mar 6 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

I am of no help concerning the magn. separation of REE minerals. But I can point you to an easy field test for recognizing REE minerals and rocks: the spectroscopic method. The instrument : the pocket spectroscope, is not very cheap, but so easy to use. You find several dealers of "pocket spectroscopes" and the relevant literature under "REE absorption spectra minerals" e.g.
http://www.minsocam.org/ammin/am14/am14_299.pdf

The experiment consists just in aiming the spectroscope towards the rock, mineral, concentrate,... lit by the sunshine, and observe the presence of dark lines in the coloured spectrum. One dreams having such a simple and specific instrument for other elements than the REE!

  
dredger
22:54:13 Wed
Mar 6 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining


  
dredger
02:03:51 Thu
Mar 7 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Hey Prof, JJ,
Wow, you are the man, the fox, the dude, Mr cool, :smile::smile:

You say,
" But I can point you to an easy field test for recognizing REE minerals and rocks: the spectroscopic method. The instrument : the pocket spectroscope, is not very cheap, but so easy to use. You find several dealers of "pocket spectroscopes" and the relevant literature under "REE absorption spectra minerals" e.g.
The experiment consists just in aiming the spectroscope towards the rock, mineral, concentrate,... lit by the sunshine, and observe the presence of dark lines in the coloured spectrum. One dreams having such a simple and specific instrument for other elements than the REE! "

That takes care of a big piece of my puzzle, ouch and thanks,

Hey wizz, :smile:
Interesting heading, " The Next Frontier in Mining ".
Back asap,

  
dredger
04:50:41 Fri
Mar 8 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Sorry Professor, I am taking a bit long to respond,

In the mean time, please,

Could you clarify a point here,

" aiming the spectroscope towards the rock, mineral, lit by the sunshine, and observe the presence of dark lines in the coloured spectrum ".

Yes, I can understand that is true for larger rocks and larger elements, , ( and that is a great idea ) , but, I am a little bit misty thinking I will observe the presence of " dark lines" in the colour spectrum when checking " concerntrates ", my concerntrates get pretty small,
I am hoping the observation of concerntrates might be not so much the same as "dark lines", I would be happy with dark blotches for checking cons, ??, as long as there is a visable change when the spectroscope is turned on the cons, ,
Can you comfirm this, please, ??.

:smile:

  
jjedwab
13:56:05 Fri
Mar 8 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

You are pushing me in a corner, and I have no instrument available to test my advices by myself. Anyway...

For a small mineral grain: you may pulverize it in an agat mortar, spread the fine powder as a thin layer on a dark paper, put it under the sun, and observe the reflected light. As long as you observe a coloured spectrum, it proves that the mineral is well hit by the sun, and the presence of dark lines proves presence of REE. The pocket spectroscope is fitted with a magnifying glass, and with an inner wavelengths scale. One can distinguish light and heavy REE.

I think the best for you would be to invest in the instrument and in a few test REE-minerals from a dealer. You don't need fine crystals, and bulk samples will do.

Good luck, JJ

  
dredger
14:37:15 Fri
Mar 8 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

That sounds like good news to me, please let me chew it over, and I will be back asap, :smile: thanks , heaps, xx.

  
baub
15:12:25 Fri
Mar 8 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

I did some research on REE's a while back. 2 things came up. The first is that it's near impossible to find a buyer for them. A company in Mt Pass California was supposed to be gearing up for production. I haven't heard of any results yet.
Transportation of the concentrated heavy REE's can be dicey as they are radioactive and have restrictive requirements that the gov't has imposed. The lighter, non radioactive cons, don't have that problem.
It might be difficult for small scale miners getting a few hundred lbs of salable and transportable cons to be able to get a buyer interested. A lot of the production places, ie: sandy beaches, process megatons of material that is shipped by the boatload to China etal for final processing.
A possible solution would be to form an association of small producers in order to attract sufficient interest from buyers.
Establishing a dig to sell protocol could benefit miners all over the US.

  
geowizard
16:27:03 Fri
Mar 8 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining


Promethium is the only radioactive REE. The University of Alaska, Fairbanks, told a prior miner at Ophir there was Promethium at Ophir. Promethium is a short lived radioactive element. I exists for 15 milliseconds and then decays into a daughter element.

Yes, REE's are poisonous.

REE's are rare. So, the average person isn't likely to go out and open up a mine. Because they are rare and are valuable when pure, (like gold), there must be a process to purify the REE into a marketable product. That requires money and technology. The Chinese have worked out the technology. Since they control the process, I, you, we are probably not going to ever get our hands on that technology.

Of course there are markets for REE's here in North America. As with any market, there are specifications on the product and terms on which "the purchase" are made.

The issues are the same as with gold mining. You will need DEEP POCKETS and TIME to get permitting. With a six year permitting process on federal POO's, ask... "where will the market be in six years?"

Yes... all of this comes AFTER you have made a substantial discovery of REE in place, done all of the due diligence to convince investors that the COST and the WAIT will result in PROFIT.:welcome:

REE's are very nearly chemically the same. This makes the process of selective refining VERY difficult and is the largest obstacle.


- Geowizard

  
jjedwab
09:41:05 Mon
Mar 11 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Sorry to inflict a lecture here: the radioactivity of REE-minerals is largely due to the presence of U and/or Th, and very few to promethium. U and Th are present either as included specific micros in the REE-minerals, or hidden in the mineral's formula, like frequently Ti, Nb, Ta, Zr

About the questions put by DREDGER: one is here mixing: prospection, ore evaluation and benefication, selling of small quant. of concentrates, or of large deposits, ...There is obviously no clear answer for such a mix.

Let me come up with a much more pedestrian idea: Each old computer dumped to the waste contains two wonderful platelets of Fe-Nd-B permanent magnets (quite strong) in the hard disk box. I am sure that they could surely be used in many ways by readers in this forum, considering their active brain storming.

JJ

  
geowizard
16:20:00 Mon
Mar 11 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

baub, JJ,

Quoting baub;

"I did some research on REE's a while back. 2 things came up. The first is that it's near impossible to find a buyer for them. A company in Mt Pass California was supposed to be gearing up for production. I haven't heard of any results yet.
Transportation of the concentrated heavy REE's can be dicey as they are radioactive and have restrictive requirements that the gov't has imposed. The lighter, non radioactive cons, don't have that problem.
It might be difficult for small scale miners getting a few hundred lbs of salable and transportable cons to be able to get a buyer interested. A lot of the production places, ie: sandy beaches, process megatons of material that is shipped by the boatload to China etal for final processing.
A possible solution would be to form an association of small producers in order to attract sufficient interest from buyers.
Establishing a dig to sell protocol could benefit miners all over the US. "

I said; "REE's are not radioactive."

Since we are "probably" discussing mineable REE's, the (unstable, radioactive) Actinides are NOT included.

Why? :confused:

The Actinides are Trans Uranium, etc and are produced by man EXCEPT Uranium and Thorium which are "Primordial" (always been here). Uranium and Thorium are not REE's.

RARE EARTH ELEMENTS that are mineable are Lanthanides INCLUDING Scandium and Yttrium.

So, the total mineable REE's are 17.

Sc, Y, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Pm, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu.

They may occur in a radioactive isotope. Isotopes are unstable and are radioactive. Rare earth elements may exist in a compound (mixture of elements)including Thorium and Uranium. But the rare earth "elements" aren't radioactive. Handling isn't an issue so far as nuclear regulatory commission (NRC) is concerned. :smile:

- Geowizard

[4 edits; Last edit by geowizard at 16:44:48 Mon Mar 11 2013]

  
baub
16:46:50 Mon
Mar 11 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Most of the REEs have the radioactive elements that Dr J mentioned. When you concentrate REE bearing materials you raise the radiation levels above the threshold of danger, hence the transportation problems.
The lighter lanthanides are less of a problem and may be less valuable. Catch 22.


  
geowizard
17:03:47 Mon
Mar 11 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

baub,

Let's be clear. Specialized accellerators are used to produce actinides.

They are not mined!

EXCEPT Uranium and Thorium which are Actinides and they are NOT REE's.

Protactinium is in the middle! BOTH natural and manmade.

It is found in nature with Uranium and is obtained as a byproduct. IT has no practical use except in some scientific applications. Pa is usually and most often obtained as a byproduct from nuclear reactors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protactinium

- Geowizard

  
geowizard
17:08:59 Mon
Mar 11 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining


A good reference on geology mining and beneficiation of REE:

http://geology.com/usgs/ree-geology/

- Geowizard

  
dredger
01:47:53 Wed
Mar 13 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

R any Rem radioactive, ???? :confused: sorrry, I can think today,

  
baub
13:02:21 Wed
Mar 13 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Let me restate my earlier post.
The average miner cannot easily separate the radioactive portions over the heavy sands that are the normal habitat of REE's. Therefore he cannot eliminate the radioactive elements from whatever amount of concentrated sands he wants to ship to a refinery. The act of concentration of REEs will raise the level of Uranium etc. Thorium too. This enrichment could raise the general radiation level of the cons to an unacceptable level. There may be roadside radiation detectors that would notice such levels. Imagine the hue and cry if one of these loads of enriched sand were to be in an accident.
You could consider Uranium and Thorium as bonus by products of the concentration process.
The sands that I'm familiar with are mined by placer methods and further concentrated by specific gravity, mag separation etc.
The final separation into individual, salable elements is capitol, time and labor intense. There are some new wrinkles in the works that may speed up things.
If one were to hard rock mine and over the course of time accumulate and optimaly concentrate REEs of salable character, then the point could be made that they can be mined that way.
The real obstacle is that there is no readily available buyers for small amounts, 1-2 tons, of REEs. If you can find one Wiz, please send the info asap. I would be most appreciative.

b

  
jjedwab
09:53:50 Fri
Mar 15 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

The solution for making money is perhaps not in selling small quantities of the material itself, but in selling prospects found at remote places? The problem of finding the buyer is still there.

  
baub
20:14:09 Fri
Mar 15 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Good point Dr J.

The claim was for sale and has a pending offer. Gold and maybe some silver as it's in the same general area and with the same geological structure, are also there. Good access too.

  
dredger
02:31:21 Sat
Mar 16 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

And there is this,

http://www.wealthwire.com/aqx_p/33502/rare_earth_metals?gclid=CN_R_7qy87UCFQxepQodLWcA7g
They say,
March 11th, 2013
The rare earth story has been gripping the market for years now.
Before 2010, no one even knew what rare earths were...
Then, all of sudden, they were in high demand for smart electronics and high-tech energy solutions.
That sounds LIKE A GROWING MARKET,,,
?? testing

  
geowizard
02:41:01 Sat
Mar 16 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining


When people ask;

Geowizard, is this gold? My reply is - "if there is any doubt in your mind, then it is not gold."

What does a REE look like? :confused:

Analysis of a sample for a Rare Earth Element requires spectroscopic analysis. The common method is to use an AA spectrometer to perform an "assay".

Most gold miners are looking for gold! Probably been tracking REE's in and out of the camp on their shoes and didn't know it!

Ever seen a REE?

- Geowizard

  
jjedwab
14:09:59 Sat
Mar 16 2013

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Re: The Next Frontier of Mining

Smokers knew lighter flints (made of Ce=Mischmetal) since eons. Ce203 was extensively used as polishing medium for optical instruments.

  

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