Posts Tagged ‘acid containment in mining’

The Lunar Gold Rush: How Moon Mining Could Work [infographic]

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

Humans are already going to extremes to get natural resources. Gold and platinum mines in South Africa go as deep as almost 4 km into the Earth’s crust, which is about twice the depth of the Grand Canyon.

Meanwhile, up high in the Andes are some of the biggest copper and gold operations in the world. In Peru, La Rinconada is the world’s highest permanent settlement at 5,100 m, and it is situated strategically between many artisanal gold deposits in the mountains.

However, there are two frontiers that humans are still exploring in their early stages: the deep sea and spacial bodies such as asteroids, planets, and the moon. Today’s infographic covers the prospect of moon mining.

While we often think of the moon as a pretty barren landscape, it turns out moon mining could take advantage of many natural resources present on the lunar surface.

moon mining image

Water is vital in space for a multitude of reasons, such as for use in human consumption, agriculture, or hydrogen fuel. It’s also cost prohibitive to transport water to space anytime we may need it from earth. Scientists are now confident that the moon has a variety of water sources, including water locked up in minerals, scattered through the broken-up surface, and potentially in blocks or sheets at depth.

Helium-3 is a rare isotope of helium. Currently the United States produces only 8kg of it per year for various purposes. Helium-3 is a sought-after resource for fusion energy and energy research.

Lastly, rare earth elements (REEs) are also at high concentrations on the moon. KREEP (Potassium, REEs, and Phosphorus) is a geochemical mixture of some lunar impact breccia rocks and is expected to be extremely common on the moon. This mix also has other important substances embedded, such as uranium, thorium, fluorine, and chlorine.

If a lunar colony is indeed in our future, moon mining operations may be an important component of it.


Henry Sapiecha

moon mining infographic image







Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Sulphuric acid spills at Rio Tinto site

Kym Agius

March 25, 2011

Queensland’s environment department says an alumina refinery owned by Rio Tinto has spilt sulphuric acid into a creek in central Queensland.

Rio Tinto notified the Department of Environment and Resource Management that the spill occurred at the Yarwun alumina refinery on Sunday during heavy rain.

DERM spokesman Joe Pappalardo said an unknown amount of the acid was released into Boat Creek when the site’s stormwater system overflowed in heavy rain.

Advertisement: Story continues below

Urgent inspections and water sampling has been done at Boat Creek and nearby Port Curtis, at Gladstone.

“Inspections by DERM officers … have found no evidence of environmental harm suggesting that the recent rain and high tides in Boat Creek have helped to dilute the acid and flush it through the system relatively quickly,” Mr Pappalardo said.

“Investigations are continuing, however at this stage DERM has found no evidence that environmental harm has been caused by the spill.”

Investigators are looking at the cause of the spill, how much sulphuric acid was involved and the actions taken by Rio Tinto.

Mr Pappalardo said it looks as though it’s been a lucky escape for the environment.

“If it’s confirmed that a large amount of sulphuric acid has been released without significant environmental harm, then DERM would consider that very fortunate indeed.”

“The risk is unacceptable.”

A Rio Tinto spokesman said it is estimated that 3000 litres sulphuric acid was released when a drain valve failed.

“The vast majority of the sulphuric acid was contained within the on-site spill capture system,” the spokesman said.

“Heavy rain on Sunday resulted in a small amount of the sulphuric acid and seawater mix being discharging into a local creek.”

The drain valve has been removed from service and will remain out of operation until repaired and investigations are completed.

AAP- Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha