May 17, 2020

Cornish mining startup to use satellites to find lithium

Lithium
Cornish Lithium
Satellite Applications Catapult
Innovate UK
Sophie Chapman
2 min
Innovate UK back satellite firm that is working on detecting lithium in the west of England
A mining startup based in Cornwall has partnered with a state-backed satellite company in order to find lithium in the UK’s west country.

Cornish Lit...

A mining startup based in Cornwall has partnered with a state-backed satellite company in order to find lithium in the UK’s west country.

Cornish Lithium and Satellite Applications Catapult – which has received £85,000 (US$118,500) the government’s Technology Strategy brand, otherwise known as Innovate UK – are to develop a new technique of finding metal.

The project aims to extract lithium, which can be used for batteries and electric vehicles, from salt water pumped from wells which could be as deep as 1km.

“We are looking to see whether there are signatures above ground that we can detect via satellite that will help us identify where some of the deposits are,” stated Stuart Martin, Chief Executive of Satellite Applications Catapult.

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Martin added that although the project is still in its very early stages, it is looking very positive.

If the technology is successful, the satellite company will create a map for Cornish Lithium in order for it to narrow down locations of usable deposits.

“We believe that techniques developed from this study will prove of great interest to the mining industry globally given the growing importance of Earth Observation techniques as an unobtrusive exploration tool worldwide,” said Jeremy Wrathall, Chief Executive of Cornish Lithium.

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Jun 16, 2021

Rio Tinto partners with ARENA for green hydrogen research

Rio Tinto
Hydrogen
Green Energy
Sustainability
3 min
Rio Tinto and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will study using hydrogen to reduce carbon emissions in alumina refining

Rio Tinto has partnered with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to study whether hydrogen can replace natural gas in alumina refineries to reduce emissions.

Rio Tinto and ARENA partnering for green energy push

Rio Tinto will conduct a $1.2mn feasibility study, equally funded with ARENA through a $580,000 grant, into using clean hydrogen to replace natural gas in the calcination process of refining at the Yarwun alumina refinery in Gladstone.

The study program includes work to be done at Rio Tinto’s Bundoora Technical Development Centre in Melbourne, where Rio Tinto’s in-house development capability has now been extended to hydrogen.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller commented: “If we can replace fossil fuels with clean hydrogen in the refining process for alumina, this will reduce emissions in the energy and emissions intensive refining stage of the aluminium supply chain. Exploring these new clean energy technologies and methods is a crucial step towards producing green aluminium.

“This study will investigate a potential technology that can contribute to the decarbonisation of the Australian alumina industry. If successful, the technical and commercial lessons from Rio Tinto’s study could lead to the implementation of hydrogen calcination technology, not only in Australia, but also internationally.”

Rio Tinto Aluminium Pacific Operations acting managing director Daniel van der Westhuizen added: “We see the ARENA and Rio Tinto-funded study as a step towards reducing refinery emissions and one that has the potential to play an important part in Rio Tinto’s commitment to decarbonisation.

“We’re investing in work that needs to be done, not only to decarbonise one of our sites, but also to help provide a lower-emissions pathway for Rio Tinto and the global aluminium industry.

“We recognise we are on a long road towards reducing emissions across our operations and there is clearly more work to be done. But projects such as this are an important part of helping us get there.”

Can hydrogen replace natural gas in alumina refineries?

The study comprises two distinct work packages:

  • Preliminary engineering and design study conducted to understand the construction and operational requirements of a potential demonstration project at the Yarwun alumina refinery.
  • Simulating the calcination process using a lab scale reactor at the Bundoora Technical Development Centre.

Once complete, the study will inform the viability of a potential demonstration project. Rio Tinto has lodged patents for the hydrogen calcination process.

Rio Tinto aiming for net zero by 2050

Rio Tinto is aiming to reach net zero emissions across its operations by 2050. Across the company, it is targeting a 15% reduction in absolute emissions and a 30% reduction in emissions intensity by 2030, from a 2018 baseline.

Aluminium is found in everything from cars to phones. But one of the challenges of producing this essential material responsibly is finding ways to decarbonise the process.

Part of the reason is creating alumina – the main ingredient in aluminium – takes a lot of energy, which in turn creates greenhouse gas emissions. New technologies will be essential to helping reduce emissions, but many haven’t been proven. And some not yet even discovered. Rio Tinto's transformation is being driven by innovation and its partnership with ARENA is a positive step towards these goals.

 

Rio Tinto Yarwun aerial

 

               

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