November Newsletter – 07.11.2022
- Aluminum-based material can scrub CO2 from coal-fired power plants’ exhaust
- Instead of phasing down coal the world is burning more than ever
- Buying conflict-free tin and coltan out of Congo just got harder
- China opposes Canada’s divestment order on lithium mining
- South Africa gets $497m from World Bank for clean energy sourcing
- Lithium Americas to split into two companies
- How To Make Mining A Magnet For TikTokers
- South Korea miners survive nine days underground on coffee
Aluminum-based material can scrub CO2 from coal-fired power plants’ exhaust
An international team of researchers is proposing the idea of using aluminum formate – a metal-organic framework (MOF) – to remove carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants’ exhaust before the greenhouse gas reaches the atmosphere.
In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, the research group explains that MOFs have exhibited great potential for filtering and separating organic materials—often the various hydrocarbons in fossil fuels—from one another. Some MOFs have shown promise at refining natural gas or separating the octane components of gasoline; others might contribute to reducing the cost of plastics manufacturing or cheaply converting one substance to another. Their capacity to perform such separations comes from their inherently porous nature.
Among them, aluminum formate – which the scientists refer to as ALF – has proven effective in separating carbon dioxide from the other gases that commonly fly out of the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants. It also lacks the shortcomings that other proposed carbon filtration materials have.
As a group, MOFs have exhibited great potential for filtering and separating organic materials—often the various hydrocarbons in fossil fuels—from one another. Some MOFs have shown promise at refining natural gas or separating the octane components of gasoline; others might contribute to reducing the cost of plastics manufacturing or cheaply converting one substance to another. Their capacity to perform such separations comes from their inherently porous nature.
Instead of phasing down coal the world is burning more than ever
Last November in Glasgow, the world’s climate leaders were locked in a fierce debate over whether the final draft of the summit’s agreement should include a pledge to “phase-out” or “phase-down” coal.
Since then, the more appropriate term would probably be “phase-up.”
Even as the globe is increasingly battered by floods, droughts and storms caused by climate change, the fuel that contributes most to planet-warming emissions is undergoing a renaissance. Global coal power generation could set a record for a second-straight year and remains the world’s biggest source of electricity. Consumption has surged in Europe to replace shortfalls in hydro, nuclear and Russian gas, while top producer China is extracting record volumes from mines to insulate itself from volatile global energy markets.
Prices of exported coal have skyrocketed to records and futures contracts suggest they’ll remain at historic highs for years to come. And while plans for spending on new mines and power plants are a fraction of what they were a few years ago, that companies are still investing in new projects at all is alarming to climate scientists who say the fuel needs to be phased out by 2040 to avoid the worst effects of climate change. As politicians and activists gather in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh this weekend to consolidate the work of Glasgow, Paris and other past COP summits, coal’s resilience demonstrates the mountain the world still need to climb.
Buying conflict-free tin and coltan out of Congo just got harder
A miner from Kamatanda, one of the mining areas in the Katanga province in southeastern DRC.
Buying tin, tantalum and tungsten that doesn’t support violence in central Africa has become more complicated after an industry-led program monitoring the supply chains downgraded its relationship with the region’s main mineral-tracking group.
The Responsible Minerals Initiative, which helps more than 400 of the world’s biggest corporations avoid purchasing metals that fuel or fund violence, said this week that its auditing process won’t recognize the findings of the International Tin Supply Chain Initiative without companies doing extra due diligence on the source of their minerals.
RMI, whose members include Apple Inc. and Walmart Inc., removed ITSCI from its list of “recognized upstream programs” that monitor mineral supply chains because it has not reapplied for recognition by the group, RMI said in an emailed response to questions.
ITSCI said RMI’s decision was “a surprise” and that it was “committed to constructive and open dialogue and engagement” with the program in a statement on its website Thursday.
ITSCI was developed more than a decade ago by tin and tantalum industry groups to stop mining from supporting conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo by tagging minerals at mines and tracking them through the supply chain.
It has faced criticism regarding reliability, including from anti-corruption group Global Witness, which in April said it had “spectacularly failed in its original goal of ensuring traceability of ‘conflict-free’ minerals.”
China opposes Canada’s divestment order on lithium mining
China’s Ministry of Commerce on Sunday said it firmly opposes Canada’s divestment order on Chinese companies as Ottawa is using national security as a pretext.
On Wednesday, Canada ordered three Chinese companies – Sinomine (Hong Kong) Rare Metals Resources Co Ltd, Chengze Lithium International Ltd, also based in Hong Kong, and Zangge Mining Investment (Chengdu) Co Ltd. – to divest their investments in three of Canadian lithium mining companies, citing national security.
Both China and Canada are important suppliers in global mining production chains, and the Canadian side has overstretched the concept of national security and placed arbitrary curbs on normal trade and investment cooperation between Chinese and Canadian companies, the ministry said in a statement.
This is against the principle of market economy and international economic and trading rules, and China strongly opposes such a decision, it said.
South Africa gets $497m from World Bank for clean energy sourcing
South Africa, one of the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitters, has been granted financing of $497m to decommission one of its largest coal-fired power plants and convert it to renewable energy, the World Bank said.
In a statement overnight on Thursday, the bank said the newly closed Komati power station about 170 kilometres (105 miles) northeast of Johannesburg will be repurposed using solar and wind sources, supported by batteries for storage.
The project aims at easing carbon emissions and creating economic opportunities in the area, which has been home to one of Africa’s largest coal plants for more than 60 years.
“Closing the Komati plant this week is a good first step toward low carbon development,” said World Bank Group President David Malpass.
South Africa secured $8.5bn in loans and grants at the UN climate talks last year from a group of rich nations to finance its switch to greener energy.
Lithium Americas to split into two companies
Lithium Americas (TSX: LAC; NYSE: LAC) plans to separate its North American and Argentine businesses into two independent public companies by the end of the year, it said on Thursday.
The new Lithium Americas company will own the Thacker Pass lithium project in Nevada and investments in Green Technology Metals (ASX: GT1) and Ascend Elements, according to a company statement. Lithium Americas’ president and chief executive officer, Jonathan Evans, will stay in that position for the new company.
The other new company, Lithium International, will focus on the Argentine assets, the parent company said. These include the 44.8% interest in the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium brine project in Jujuy, which is advancing towards first production; the full interest in the Pastos Grandes lithium brine project in Salta, and the 17% investment in Arena Minerals (TSXV: AN). The CEO of Lithium International wasn’t named.
“Separating the North American and Argentine businesses will facilitate unlocking the full potential of their significant asset base to deliver maximum value to our shareholders and other stakeholders,” Evans said in the release. “Upon completion of the separation, Lithium Americas shareholders will retain ownership in two leading lithium businesses.”
How To Make Mining A Magnet For TikTokers
Getting young people interested in adding value to society through the mining industry is something Marcelo Santos, General Manager of Digital Technologies, Nexa Resources thinks about a lot. Besides supervising, implementing, and maintaining the company’s computing needs, Santos’ role is to attract and retain the right talent to keep operations running smoothly. Not only that – his team must be agile and skillful enough to successfully navigate the monumental changes facing the industry.
“We have to make mining more attractive to the TikTok generation,” said Marcelo Santos, General Manager of Digital Technologies, Nexa Resources, at SAP’s recent International Conference for Mining and Metals. “These are people with university degrees who can change the world.”
Santos compares mining to banking 20 years ago. “It was one of the industries that invested heavily in digital transformation,” he explained. “Back then, the biggest asset a bank had was its branch. Today, that’s their biggest liability. The work of the people who drove that massive transformation was not considered sexy, but they managed to transform their industry into an attractive magnet for highly skilled professionals.” Santos’ goal is the same for mining.
South Korea miners survive nine days underground on coffee
Two miners who spent nine days trapped in a collapsed South Korean zinc mine living on instant coffee powder have been rescued.
The men, aged 62 and 56, are believed to have kept warm by lighting a fire and building a tent out of plastic.
They are said to be in a stable condition.
It comes during a period of national mourning for South Korea, after more than 150 people were killed in a crush in the capital Seoul last week.
The two miners were stranded nearly 200 metres (650 feet) underground after part of the zinc mine they were working in collapsed on 26 October in Bonghwa, in the east of the country.
They were finally rescued on the night of 4 November – more than nine days after their ordeal began. Both were able to walk out of the mine and were taken to a local hospital. Their doctor said they should make a full recovery.
President Yoon Suk-yeol called their rescue “truly miraculous”.
“Thank you and thank you again for coming back safely from the crossroads of life and death,” he wrote on Facebook.
Authorities said the miners survived by drinking water that fell from the ceiling and using instant coffee mix powder as a meal.
The rescue operation began on Thursday when emergency workers drilled a hole and inserted a small camera in an effort to locate the miners, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
The were eventually discovered sitting shoulder to shoulder to keep warm, in a spacious chamber where several mine shafts meet.
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