Voice of Real Australia: Copper and rare earths are the renewable future of mining | Avocado

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Voice of Real Australia is a regular ACM newsletter, which has reporters in every state and territory. Sign up here to receive it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Mining is a dirty word in some circles and there is an urgent need for Australia to reduce its carbon emissions and mining in industries like coal and gas, no matter what the Nats think. However, other mining industries will gain in importance as we move to renewables. This is good news for regions like North West Queensland, which has a strong mining presence in sectors like copper, zinc and rare earth elements, due to their use in renewable energy industries. and electric vehicles. Queensland Resources Council chief policy officer Andrew Barger said at a recent industry breakfast here that the rapid deployment of clean energy technology means a significant increase in demand for minerals. The International Energy Agency has said that net zero carbon by 2070 would mean quadruple the mineral requirements for clean energy technologies by 2040, while net zero by 2050 requires six times more minerals than ‘today. Elements like copper, lithium, cobalt, and zinc were in high demand in electric cars and in power generation like wind power and solar PV. Mr Barger said copper in particular is considered “the new gold” and Goldman Sachs analysis in 2020 found copper facing a supply crunch with bullish forecasts for price increases. to 60pc by 2025. Meanwhile, the demand for zinc in batteries is increasing due to their longer life, non-flammable electrolytes and more stable charge cycles. The Resources and Energy Quarterly magazine from June 2021 said that Redflow is offering a 10kWh zinc-bromine flux battery that offers less sensitivity to ambient temperature than lithium-ion batteries. Rare Earth Elements, a group of 15 elements on the periodic table with strange names like yttrium, lanthanum, and neodymium. Strange or not, they are essential components of magnets in fighter jets and tanks, and they also play an important role in electric vehicles, wind turbines and electronic gadgets. Despite their name, they are not particularly rare in the earth’s crust. Cesium is the 25th most abundant crustal element. However, it is not common for them to occur in concentrations sufficient to support commercial mining operations. China dominates the supply of these minerals and they are becoming a weapon in the growing trade war between the United States and China. The strategic importance of rare earth elements was reflected in their inclusion in the U.S. government’s 2018 list of 35 Critical Minerals. In 2019, Geoscience Australia and the United States Geological Survey signed an agreement to assess each country’s resource potential and develop new sources of supply. The Queensland government has also invested $ 13.8 million in research with Mount Isa’s John Campbell Miles drill core storage facility to play a key role. The facility is essentially a huge lab library of carrot samples dating back half a century. But in the 1960s, the industry was only interested in nickel, lead and silver, not rare earths or cobalts. Experts will now go back through core samples, old mine shafts and tailings dams to find neglected minerals with a range of exploration techniques including aerial, magnetic and gravity surveys to encourage business. to explore promising areas. As Mr Barger said in Mount Isa, the appeal is that the metallurgy of where rare earths can occur is co-located with the metallurgy already known in the area. “Suddenly you’re talking about rather than carrying loads of product you will have handles and full suitcases, but those products are selling for a higher price,” he said. If you want to filter all the latest information until a late afternoon read, why not sign up for The Informer newsletter? MORE THINGS HAPPEN IN AUSTRALIA:



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