By using permanent magnets that are free from dysprosium, a relatively scarce REE, along with other engineering innovations that dramatically reduce the use of structural steel and eliminate the use of expensive laminated electrical steel, wind turbines incorporating BWP's technology could produce power at or below $0.04 per kW/h, making it competitive with fossil fuel energy production costs.
As far back as the 1960s, the Chinese Government referred to rare earth metals (REMs), otherwise known as strategic metals, as the 'oil of the 21st-century'. Half a century later, with global oil reserves in terminal decline, China produces 97% of the rare earth elements (REEs) used to drive the alternative energy systems of the future, including those that harvest wind, wave and tidal power.
All 17 rare earth elements, as well as molybdenum, gallium and germanium, are also found in minute amounts in virtually every modern technological application, including light alloys for aerospace components, battery electrodes, catalysts and lasers. Without them, the supercomputers, rockets and complex medical devices of the future would likely remain the stuff of science fiction.
'Take your mobile phone,' said Bloodworth. 'It may contain indium to make the touch screen work properly or has tungsten in it to make it vibrate. Every Toyota Prius contains several kilograms of rare earth elements (including 10-15kg of lanthanum in its nickel-metal hydride battery).
Between 1980 and 2010, global production and consumption of rare earths - the name is misleading since rare earth elements are actually abundant, the two rarest (thulium and lutetium) are roughly 200 times more common than gold - increased at an annual rate of 4.8%. World demand is projected to rise from its current level of 136,000t a year to 185,000t annually by 2015.
Deep impact: subsea and solution mining
Bloodworth and DeYoung agree that deep subsea exploration represents the next frontier in terrestrial mineral exploration.
'Sources of mineral supply that were thought to be unconventional a few decades ago, such as ocean mining, are closer to reality,' said DeYoung. 'In 1874, Jules Verne predicted in the book Mysterious Island the use of electrolytic hydrogen as a fuel. His assertion that 'water will be the coal of the future' hasn't happened yet, but it seems less like science fiction now and the future is a century closer than then.'
In January 2011, the world's first deep sea mining lease was granted to Canadian company Nautilus Minerals, giving the green light for its Solwara 1 project to commercially explore seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) systems, a potential source of high-grade copper, gold, zinc and silver, at depths of up to 1,600m in the Bismarck Sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
'Another new frontier is mining without miners, using very interesting technology to recover metal by drilling into the deposit and pumping or leaching out a solution that is enriched with the metal,' explained Bloodworth. 'Already in Australia they are using these 'solution mining' techniques.'
Watch this space: extraterrestrial riches
Mining for minerals on other planets, asteroids and comets has intrigued science-fiction devotees since the 1930s.
In his book Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets and Planets, University of Arizona scientist John S. Lewis calculated the gross value of the M-type asteroid 3554 Amun at $20 trillion: $8 trillion from iron and nickel, $6 trillion-worth of cobalt and $6 trillion in the form of platinum-group metals.
'With the asteroidal supplies of metal at hand, we could meet Earth's needs for the next 400 million years,' Lewis stated.
In 2011, scientists from the US (Nasa), South Korea and Japan found a new mineral named Wassonite in a meteorite recovered from Antarctica in 1969. Given this discovery, and the claim that around 10% of Near-Earth Asteroids are easier for us to get to than the Moon, could extraterrestrial mining satisfy mankind's mineral needs in the centuries to come?
'None of the world's current or expected titanium production is accounted for by Wassonite,' said DeYoung. 'Our work focuses on real-world, current and near-future mineral production and consumption.'
Bloodworth is equally sceptical, but he refuses to rule out the possibility that space mining will one day become a reality.
'We live on a planet made of metal and we are becoming very ingenious at finding ways of recovering it,' he claimed. 'Extraterrestrial mining, if you look ahead 1,000 years, I can maybe see it happening, but not before.'As the professional manufacturer of complete sets of mining machinery, such as Ore flotation equipment,Primary jaw crusher,Drum dryer, Henan Hongxing is always doing the best in products and service.
- Author Articles
- More From This AuthorHongxing Machinery always adheres to the management policy 'people-oriented, regulation-oriented', since its foundation. We are absorbed in every detail to insure the good quality. The company implements the...Mining equipment has really come a long way in the last few years. You need to make sure that you choose the highest quality of mining tools so that you can keep your costs down and improve productivity....According to the industry policy that our country will give significant support to the development of basic industry like energy, transportation and raw material, as the backbone of these basic industries,...Private machinery enterprise had won the market,Shaking concentrator machine, there is a ready cash to eat. But in the fierce competition in the market always maintain leading position, they must keep the...Sudan, short for The Republic of the Sudan. Sudan is located in the south-east of Africa. It's the biggest country in Africa. The industry in Sudan is backward. And the mining too. The main economy is...
- Related Articles
- Related ArticlesWhen it comes to love and relationships, it is no secret that men and women communicate very differently. Sadly, these differences can lead to miscommunication and fighting, not to mention decreased male...Credit cards are becoming an every time need nowadays for people as this is the easiest way of getting liquid cash and at the same time the cash flow is much sound that any other form of transaction. It...State and federal labor laws are legislations that have been passed by the government in order to ensure that the employees of any organization are taken care of well. This provides them with a sense of...Acne is the most typical skin disease, that mainly occurs on the face, back again, neck as well as chest of your human body. The remainder of the parts hardly ever suffer from this dilemma. Pimples or...The British Virgin Islands is located in the Caribbean and is part of the British Overseas Territories. Apart from the main islands which are Tortola, Anegada, Virgin Gorda, and Jost Van Dyke, there are...
- Latest Articles
- Latest ArticlesThe kitchen should be designed very carefully so that everyone could easily find his way in it and cook his meal without much hassle. However, on a number of occasions the case is rarely such. Often people...When it comes to love and relationships, it is no secret that men and women communicate very differently. Sadly, these differences can lead to miscommunication and fighting, not to mention decreased male...Without question your organization's brand identity is the most important asset you have. Retail chains may have great locations, awesome stores and a terrific product line. All of these elements...One of the growing problems in United States is the rodent infestation that has affected the lives of many people. When you feel that there are any signs of any rodent infestation in your home, it becomes...Students who come from different countries face many challenges, especially in cities like Melbourne. Moreover, it gets even more challenging if they are stranger to such places. However, due to technological...