Print

Australian interest in uranium is ‘on the rise’, says GlobalData

Despite possessing some of the largest uranium resources in the world, globally unstable prices and state-wide regulatory impediments have prevented the Australian industry from reaching its full potential. Now, miners are beginning to back its recovery as demand picks up and inventory falls. So what does the future hold for Australia’s uranium sector? GlobalData takes a look.

Global Data’s mining technology writer Scarlett Evans says: “The global uranium market has been relatively uncertain in recent years. A recent report released by the World Nuclear Association (WNA) said that an oversaturated market led to a general decline in production, reducing globally from 62,200 tonnes in 2016 to 53,500 tonnes in 2018. Prices have also been seen to drop from a January 2019 average of $28.90 a pound to $25.30 a pound in August.

The Ranger uranium mine - Image source: Getty ImagesThe Ranger uranium mine - Image source: Getty Images“However, the same report found a change in global policies is marking a favourable return for the material, a shift many hope will be echoed in Australia. With a history of regulations blocking the use of nuclear power, the Minerals Council Australia (MCA) has this year revitalised the debate over utilising this resource, and mining company Boss Resources has recently unveiled plans to revive their South Australian Honeymoon project. While the benefits of harnessing nuclear remains contested, there is a sense that change is beginning to be seen.”

Ian Hore-Lacy, senior advisor at the World Nuclear Association, told GlobalData: “The current state of nuclear power in Australia is zero. There is none and there are no immediate prospects of any.

“However, quite apart from that, there is widespread support for uranium mining and export, and that has been ongoing really since the Fox enquiry in the 1970s.”

GlobalData’s Evans concludes: “It would seem such calls are beginning to be heard, with a number of legal developments in the country over the past decade. Commonwealth support for uranium mining, the lifting of bans on uranium mining in Western Australia and Queensland, and the New South Wales Government’s repeal of the ban on uranium exploration have sparked optimism amongst industry members. Public support for nuclear energy has also been found to be on the rise, with recent surveys showing a majority of Australians support a role for nuclear in the nation’s energy mix.”

About GlobalData

4,000 of the world’s largest companies, including over 70% of FTSE 100 and 60% of Fortune 100 companies, make timelier and better business decisions thanks to GlobalData’s unique data, expert analysis and innovative solutions, all in one platform. GlobalData’s mission is to help our clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative across a range of industries, including the healthcare, consumer, retail, financial, technology and professional services sectors.

Print

Deep marine mining faces multiple challenges

With on-land deposits depleting fast, the seabed, which is thought to be rich in nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese, is the obvious place to look next.

But deap-sea mining faces serious challenges, according to GlobalData’s mining technology writer Heidi Vella.

2017 04 20 114457Vella says: “Preparations for a marine mining economy are already underway. The International Seabed Authority (ISA), an autonomous international organisation that manages all mineral-related activities in the international seabed area, has already signed 30 contracts with governments, research institutions and commercial entities for exploration-phase sea bed mining.

“China holds five contracts, with interest from other countries including Belgium, Britain, Germany and Poland, as well as from the Middle East.

“ISA, which was created under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, is planning to create mineral exploitation rules as early as July 2020. In February next year, the ISA will meet to discuss and develop further draft exploitation regulations. Once agreed and concluded permits could be issued within two to three years, with operations starting a few years later.

“The real riches of the sea floor are to be found in areas such as the Clarion–Clipperton Zone (CCZ), a remote part of the Pacific Ocean which is thought to have one of the world’s largest untapped collections of rare-earth elements. It is teeming with potato-sized deposits loaded with copper, nickel, manganese and other precious ores.

“However, the nodules in the CCZ are located some 4,000 metres below the ocean surface, making mining much harder.

“One company that has been trying to carry out exploration activities in some of these areas is Nautilus Minerals, which has been exploring areas offshore Papua New Guinea and Tonga. It is looking for copper- and gold-rich discoveries using proven technologies from the offshore oil and gas industries.

“Proof of just how difficult this has been is that escalating costs have forced the company to ask for protection from its creditors after total expenditures incurred reportedly reached just short of $461m.

“As well as being technically difficult, seabed mining is also controversial due to the damage it may cause to marine biodiversity. There is a concern that marine species may be harmed before they are even discovered.”

Dr Kirsten Thompson, lecturer in ecology at the University of Exeter. told GlobalData: “Ecologically the area is quite different than the continental shelf, it will have a completely different ecosystem which is potentially more complex in its topography.

“To go and mine those areas without knowing what lives there seems really counterproductive to all sorts of activities we might want to do in the future, such as carbon burial for example.”

There is also a concern around the governing body, ISA.

Thompson says: “My understanding of ISA is that there are certain technical groups which are not allowed to sit in on meetings, meaning there is no scrutiny from any other parties other than those that happily support seabed mining, from a civil service point of view that isn’t right.”

About GlobalData

4,000 of the world’s largest companies, including over 70% of FTSE 100 and 60% of Fortune 100 companies, make timelier and better business decisions thanks to GlobalData’s unique data, expert analysis and innovative solutions, all in one platform. GlobalData’s mission is to help our clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative across a range of industries, including the healthcare, consumer, retail, financial, technology and professional services sectors.

Print

Lithium demand ‘shows no signs of slowing’, says GlobalData

Interest in lithium has skyrocketed on the back of huge demand created by the battery industry. While lithium demand shows no signs of slowing down, battery technology is changing at an enormous pace. Projects around the world are exploring alternatives to lithium, promising that a breakthrough is just around the corner.

GlobalData’s mining technology writer Umar Ali asks: “should miners be going all in for lithium?”

Ali says: “Thailand-based renewable energy company Energy Absolute announced plans in 2018 to build a 50GWh lithium-ion battery plant, which is expected to be fully completed by July 2020. India is also boosting its production of lithium batteries by investing $4bn in four lithium production plants.

2017 04 20 114457“This increased demand has caused mining companies to invest heavily in lithium mining projects around the world, hoping to capitalise on a global shift to renewable technologies. Since 2017, six lithium mines have opened in Australia, and some of the world’s largest lithium mines are being developed to ensure a constant supply of the metal in the future.

“However, these investments take time and money, and while these mines are being developed battery technology is advancing in ways that may leave the lithium market behind.

“Other battery technologies are being developed that eschew conventional minerals entirely, using more readily-available materials to power batteries. One example of this is hydrogen fuel cells, which use an incredibly abundant (albeit volatile) gas and have an energy-to-weight ratio that is ten times greater than their lithium-ion counterparts.

However, Bo Nomark, industrial strategy executive at European innovation company InnoEnergy, told GlobalData: “The most exciting development is the high activity and buzz around development of cost/performance in batteries. In the last five years the cost of batteries for EVs has dropped by a factor of three, while power density has increased by the same factor.

“The development will not go as fast in the next five years, but we expect to see a significant improvement in cost and performance with the current technologies. Furthermore, there are new technologies under development promising even higher performance.

“The most talked about technology is solid state batteries, which have the potential to improve the cost performance of lithium batteries far beyond today’s technologies. Taking all possibilities into account, it is not unlikely that before 2030 we will see another improvement in cost and energy density with a factor of three.”

About GlobalData

4,000 of the world’s largest companies, including over 70% of FTSE 100 and 60% of Fortune 100 companies, make timelier and better business decisions thanks to GlobalData’s unique data, expert analysis and innovative solutions, all in one platform. GlobalData’s mission is to help our clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative across a range of industries, including the healthcare, consumer, retail, financial, technology and professional services sectors.

Print

Jobs boom in Australia’s mining industry

The Australian Resources and Energy Group has published a report predicting that the sector will need 21,000 new workers by 2024, putting pressure on new and approved mining projects to deliver long-term jobs.

GlobalData’s mining technology writer Umar Ali lists the top four positions on the mining ‘wanted’ list.

2017 04 20 114457Mining plant operators

“The Australian Resources and Energy Group (AMMA) predicts that of the 20,767 employees needed in Australia’s mining sector by 2024, mining plant operators will see the most demand, with a total of 8,660 operators required across the country’s 57 total projects.

Western Australia (WA) accounts for more than 50% of this demand, with AMMA expecting that 4,464 mining plant operators will be needed in the region.”

Engineers and geologists

“Engineers, technicians, geologists and related roles are the second-largest group of jobs in AMMA’s report, with a total of 4,180 across Australia.

Of the “white collar” jobs in AMMA’s report engineers, technicians and geologists will require the most growth across Australia, with WA once again leading in demand with 2,138 required jobs.”

Supervisors and management

“Supervisors, management, administration and other white collar roles account for 4,110 of Australia’s 20,767 required mining jobs

These management roles will play an important part in maintaining Australia’s growing mining sector, with significant management structures needed to accommodate the growth predicted by AMMA.”

Electrical and maintenance roles

“Trades such as electrical, mechanical and maintenance roles account for 970 of the 20,767 jobs AMMA predicts Australia’s mining sector will need for 2024, the smallest demographic represented in the report.

“While these roles require the smallest amount of new jobs according to AMMA’s report, electrical and mechanical roles will still be an essential part of Australia’s mining sector, particularly in conjunction with global efforts to reduce emissions.”

About GlobalData

4,000 of the world’s largest companies, including over 70% of FTSE 100 and 60% of Fortune 100 companies, make timelier and better business decisions thanks to GlobalData’s unique data, expert analysis and innovative solutions, all in one platform. GlobalData’s mission is to help our clients decode the future to be more successful and innovative across a range of industries, including the healthcare, consumer, retail, financial, technology and professional services sectors

Print

SPECTRO Introduces its New SPECTROMAXx with iCAL 2.0 ARC/SPARK OES Analyzer

Features Proven Accuracy, Outstanding Speed, Quick Standardization, Minimal Gas Use, Low Cost of Ownership

SPECTRO Analytical Instruments has introduced the eighth generation of its SPECTROMAXx with iCAL 2.0 ARC/SPARK OES Analyzer — improved with innovative new capabilities and advancements in performance to achieve fast, accurate elemental analysis precisely tuned for material control and foundry applications.

The SPECTROMAXx may well be the industry’s leading OES line with more than 13,000 installations. The newest generation instrument features outstanding speed; quick and simple standardization; reliable and accurate results; minimal gas consumption; and a low cost of ownership for a more intelligent elemental analysis of incoming source materials, for in-process testing and traceability, and for final quality inspection.

2020 01 20 084120

The new SPECTROMAXx analyzer’s even faster measurement times and low consumables consumption provide greater productivity, analytical performance, ease of use, and cost-effectiveness than ever before.

Outstanding Speed: The new SPECTROMAXx achieves record-setting speed with optimized spark parameters for a 12 percent reduction in measurement times. (Example: low-alloy steel takes 3 seconds less than with previous models.) The ultrafast information enables users to quickly react to changing process conditions for substantial savings in both time and energy costs.

2020 01 20 084016

Quick, Simple Standardization: The new analyzer features SPECTRO’s proprietary iCAL 2.0 calibration logic, which needs only 5 minutes and a single sample per day rather than the 30 or more minutes needed by conventional analyzers. SPECTROMAXx with iCAL 2.0 compensates for most changes in environmental temperature or pressure without requiring reruns, unlike conventional instruments. Moreover, SPECTRO’s SPARK ANALYZER Pro software features a simplified operator view and programmable application profiles to ensure ease of use for less experienced personnel. The result: unparalleled stability, productivity, and savings.

Minimal Gas Consumption: Greatly reducing a substantial operational expense, SPECTROMAXx minimizes the use of costly argon gas without sacrificing analytical performance, unlike many other analyzers.

Low Costs of Ownership: The SPECTROMAXx analyzer’s low maintenance requirements deliver higher availability, while advanced diagnostics with critical status indicators make maintenance easier and prevent downtime. AMECARE services help promote uninterrupted performance and maximize ROI with machine-to-machine support that allows proactive alerts, backed up by an on-request PC connection with a remote SPECTRO service expert.

Carbon in Nodular Cast Iron Capability: Advanced OES technology enables SPECTROMAXx to precisely detect and analyze samples containing free graphite, with results comparable to those achieved by combustion analysis. The analyzer can monitor carbon during the pre-spark phase to detect free graphite and minimize its effects by selecting analytical conditions. This approach also uses a statistical method to detect bad samples automatically.

The new SPECTROMAXx with iCAL 2.0 ARC/SPARK OES Analyzer for material control and foundries is immediately available from SPECTRO Analytical Instruments. For more information, visit https://www.spectro.com/maxx, or email spectro.info@ametek.com.