IIT ISM Dhanbad Make A Move Towards Mining Sea and Space
‘Out of this world’ preparation has started regarding the logistics of studying and researching the topic of mining both below the seabeds and near-earth asteroids.
IIT ISM Dhanbad has announced a syllabus is being composed with the future of mining in mind. Something which, undoubtedly, is becoming increasingly important within the mining world.
Economic, environmental, and social stability are often discussed when it comes to mining. In densely populated areas, open-cast mining is often an issue, and the Indian government has expressed their interest and desire to explore new and innovative ways to meet energy and mineral needs.
Competition Creeps Up For Sustainable Mining
Underground and sustainable mining are becoming a more prevalent topic, not just within India, but globally due to environmental and economic challenges being faced worldwide. In the coming years, more attention is to be given to safe and smart mining and, therefore, inspiring innovation within the field to keep up with the ever-changing landscape.
Deep-sea mining, while capable of meeting mineral needs, is not risk free. The process requires mining around 4 to 5 thousand metres below sea level, and its high cost and associated risks make it a precarious endeavour. That being said, advances in mining technology and equipment are making this endeavour increasingly appealing. As is the growing competition due to the growing value of precious metals
While there is no complete tally on the value of materials found underneath the sea, scientists estimate that there could be approximately US$771tn worth of gold floating in the ocean itself.
Space-Mining May Be Just Around The Corner
However, mining on planets outside our own looks set to be completed by robots.
The Asteroid Mining Corporation is currently developing a satellite to examine near-earth asteroids for possible mining opportunities.
Whilst mining on other planets might be slightly more out of reach than mining the deep ocean, IIT ISM Dhanbad is going ahead with their experimental syllabus, and are looking to make their bid in paving the way for the future of smart mining.
British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars
The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change.
It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.
British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad.
Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe
After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company.
“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”
Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector.
Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial.
Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production
“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”
The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction.
Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably.
“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.
“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”
Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK.
“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”
Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.