Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “raw materials”

Large Lithium Deposits in Sonora, Mexico

Good news for the renewable energy transition. Large Lithium deposits found in Sonora province, Mexico. In fact, the largest in the world.

Lithium deposits, world-wide:

Location Size (Mt)
Sonora, Mexico 244
Thacker Pass, Nevada, USA 179
Wodgina, West-Australia 152
Pilgangoora, West-Australia 108
Earl Grey, West-Australia 94
Greenbushes, West-Australia 86
Whabouchi, Quebec, Canada 37
Altura, West-Australia 34
Goulamina, Mali, Africa 31
Arcadia, Zimbabwe, Africa 27

[] – All Sights on Mexico as it Discovers World’s Largest Lithium Deposit
[] – Top ten biggest lithium mines in the world
[] – Mineral Resource Estimate Update for the Sonora Lithium Project, Mexico
[] – Bacanora preparing to start Sonora lithium build in 2020
[] – Lithium-ion battery

[] – Lithium Price Spotlight

Lithium carbonate, 99.5% Li2CO3 min, battery grade, spot price cif China, Japan & Korea, $/kg (midpoint)

Read more…

Germany Secures Access to Bolivian Lithium Reserves


Cooperation announced between German company ACISA and Bolivian state company YLB, that will hold 51% of the consortium.
Annual production target as of 2022: 30.000-40.000 Tons LiOH, sufficient for hundreds of thousands of e-vehicles.
Investment volume: 300-400 million euro.

[] – Deutschland sichert sich Lithium-Vorkommen

Iron Ore Mining for Wind Turbines

World map of countries that matter in iron production. Global annual production 3.3 billion ton. China (1.4), Australia (0.8) and Brazil (0.4) together produce ca. 82% of that amount.

For the global renewable energy transition to work, hundreds of thousands of steel wind towers, monopiles and nacelle’s need to be built. The good news is, the iron is there and currently relatively cheap.

Price iron ore: $85/ton [source]
Price steel plate: $470/ton [source]
(Steel plate can be used to manufacture monopiles and towers, see video at the bottom)

Weight of a large offshore wind turbine:

Tower head mass: 60 ton/MW [pdf]
Monopile 5 MW turbine: 2200 ton [source] (strong correl. with water depth)
Tower 5 MW turbine 100 m: 389 ton [pdf]

Rule of thumb 5 MW offshore wind turbine steel requirements: 300 + 2200 + 400 = 2900 ton

One million 5 MW offshore wind turbines require 2.9 billion ton or 88% annual global steel production.

Total world electricity consumption was 19,504 TWh in 2013. [source]
Annual electricity production 5 MW offshore ind turbine: 15 million kWh or 15 GWh

In other words: with 1.3 million offshore 5 MW wind turbines you have your global 2013 electricity consumption covered, if you ignore for a moment aspects like storage. And this time entirely fossil free, which was the purpose of the operation. But this ‘back-of-an-envelope’ exercise should give you an idea of the scale of the challenge.

[] – List of countries by iron ore production
[] – True giants of mining: World’s top 10 iron ore mines

Offshore wind turbine monopile production from steel plate.

Rare Earths Infographic

Rare earths are an essential ingredient for many modern achievements, like cell phones, computers and wind turbines. There are signs that supplies of these rare earths are depleting rapidly, see infographic (click picture below (twice) to enlarge:)
Sustainable Technology v2


Lithium in Bolivia

Lithium ist Heutzutage das neue Gold. Dieser Stoff ist der Schlüsselrohstoff für die nächsten Jahrzehnte. Lithium-Ionen-Akkus sind unverzichtbar für Autobatterien, Handys und Laptops. In dieser Dokumentation über die Lithium Gewinnung in Bolivien geht um den größten Salzsee der Welt. Dort vermuten Geologen die größten Lithium Vorkommen der Erde. Lithium ist das leichteste Metall der Welt und in Zukunft bald der Wichtigste Rohstoff. Denn ohne ihn könnte man keine rentablen Batterien und Akkus bauen. Mehr als die Hälfte der Vorräte lagern im Salar de Uyuni, dem größten Salzsee der Welt. Doch um das Lithium abzubauen ist ein Verdampfungskegel nötig, welcher über mehrere Jahre entwickelt wurde. Die Bolivianer wollen den Stoff selbst abbauen, da sie damit ein Milliardengeschäft machen würden – doch internationale Konzerne und deren Lobbyisten versuchen dies zu verhindern und es beginnt ein harter, aber unfairer Kampf zwischen den beiden Parteien.


3SAT documentary in German.

Read more…

Peak Phosphorus

Arno Rosemarin from the Stockholm Environment Institute explains the many challenges of phosphate rock, the main source of phosphorus used in fertilizers, running out.


How Long Will It Last?

We admit, this is the kind of stuff this site thrives on: densely packed information giving high level overview of the resource depletion situation. ‘Enjoy’.

Credits: Armin Reller of the University of Augsburg and Tom Graedel of Yale University.

All about Gold

There is much speculation in the light of massive fiat money creation that the gold standard might make a come-back. Detailed factsheet about gold, who owns it, who produces it, who consumes it, how much is there, what is its usage, what is the historic development of the gold price?


Realtime Data

This post is going to be used to collect sources of real-time online data of interest to this blog. This blogpost will be updated regularly.

Goldprice in euro
Exchange rates (dollar-euro default)

Real-time oilprices
eex (European Energy Exchange, trading in electric energy, natural gas, CO2 emission allowances and coal)
Prices for Dutch electricity

BHP Biliton largest mining firm

Even after the merger between Glencore und Xstrata, BHP Biliton remains the world’s largest mining firm. Iron ore is a major source for profit (38,5 billion $).

[Financial Times Deutschland][In German]

[BHP Biliton Wikipedia]

Seabed mud contains large quatities of rare earths

Here is another recent discovery concerning rare earths. It turns out that those elements are so abundant on the bottom of the ocean that the mud covering just one square kilometre of ocean floor in the Pacific Ocean could supply one-fifth of the current annual world consumption, according to a new study published online Sunday in Nature Geoscience.

Brasil has rare earths in abundance

Currently China produces 95% of the so-called rare earths. In that light the recent discovery of large deposits of rare earths in Brazil is welcome news for high-tech industrial consumers of these materials. Recent Chinese restrictions on the export of rare earth minerals has made this discovery even more valuable. The deposits were discovered by Vale, the world’s largest iron ore mining company.


Glencore and Xstrata merger

According the German Magazine der Spiegel a merger is underway between Swiss based and the world’s largest commodities trader Glencore and mining company Xstrata, also Swiss based.

[Der Spiegel]
Read more…

German industry starts raw materials alliance

[Wolfram halogen lamp][source]

Out of fear for coming raw material shortages the German industry starts an offensive to counter that threat organized by BASF, ThyssenKrupp and some ten other firms. In the coming 5-10 years investments are to be made in the order of one billion euros. The alliance will act in coordination with the federal government. Core materials of concern are: rare earths, wolfram and cokes.

[Der Spiegel]

Russian Energy Geopolitics

[Click to enlarge]

Moscow’s High Stakes Energy Geopolitics (summary) – by F. William Engdahl

Through the new North Stream and South Stream pipeline systems, Russia is clearly redrawing the energy map of Europe… energy is the lever for Russia’s return to the world stage and for checkmating Washington’s NATO encirclement strategy… On November 7 the first of two pipelines for Nord Stream, the huge Russian-German gas pipeline project, began delivery of gas. A 1224 km pipeline delivers gas from the Siberian Yuzhno-Russkoye field to Lubmin/Germany. Total cost: more than 12 billion $. After completion of the second pipeline by the end of 2012, 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year, almost ten percent the entire EU annual gas consumption, or roughly one third the entire current gas consumption of China. The EU is going for natural gas energy big time and Moscow intends to be a major, if not the major beneficiary of that push. Nord Stream will deliver to Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the Czech Republic. Read more…

Booming Mongolia

[Maps courtesy of used with permission]

Mongolia is being dug up and sold to China. Already, more than 80% of its exports are minerals, a proportion expected to rise in a few years to 95%. Mongolia makes mining geologists salivate over its known riches and unexplored potential—for copper, coal, gold, silver, uranium, molybdenum, and on and on. With just under 3m people, Mongolia has a chance of becoming a Qatar or a Brunei: a country that has only a small population but almost all of it, in global terms, loaded. In the third quarter of 2011 Mongolia’s economy grew by 21% compared with the same period in 2010. Even sober economists think the country is going to have to get used to this sort of thing. The IMF expects growth to average 14% a year between 2012 and 2016.


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