Rare Earth Metals

DoChenRollingBearing

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While not exactly PMs, some of them are pretty close (Europium is priced in the $thousands per kg). These are critical metals for many high technology applications, and, alas, China produces some 95% of them. And restricting export, much to the alarm of the Defense Department and car companies.

These metals are hard to separate and to refine. Not to mention making magnets and phosphors (etc.) from them. Apparently the USA has lost much of its chemical engineering expertise in doing these steps.

Here's a link with some good news about the USA's own Molycorp (MCP on the HYSE), the closest thing we have to a market leader:

http://www.raremetalblog.com/2011/12/rare-earths-deal-time.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+typepad%2FIBmE+%28RareMetalBlog+%29

You can subscribe for FREE to the Rare Earth Metal Blog daily newsletter, I get it each day, but so far I do not have a dog in this hunt.

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The purpose of this thread is to suggest what good investments might be out there for us small speculators.

Lately I have been reading that almost ALL of the junior rare earth minors (in very early stages) will likely fail. So, careful!
 

DCFusor

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I've played MCP for the nice huge swings, and sometimes made money trading it. I have my doubts about them as a long term investment, though - they seem all too willing to try to grow super fast by diluting the shareholders and adding debt generally. I haven't played them for awhile - it takes a bit of study to get back into the swing of their rhythm and play them for gain as they go all over the place. Their own owners have sold a lot of their founding stock - you can't blame them, they've held that risk forever, but it's not the greatest sign either when management starts to cash out.

We've learned some new chemical tech (ion exchange) that makes separating the RE's not so bad (not that great, but the older ways were flat out terrible), but there's this other problem - they're almost always found with thorium, which is radioactive, and becomes a disposal problem, since no one is buying enough of it.


These days, even mines are trying for a zero-waste situation, where everything that isn't sold is recycled, like the paper business has become... it's a real problem, and the reason we shut down all our RE outfits when China was willing to let some Chinese die so our guys didn't have to - a real case of NIMBY took over here.

Our backwards nuclear regulators haven't allowed us to really develop Th based reactors that would use the thorium at this point, or really solved the problems of approving designs for any reactors that are both safe and cost effective...it's an issue. Th does have serious proliferation issues (U233 bred from it makes great bombs), just like the plutonium from uranium reactors, and our refusal to allow storage in Yucca or do reprocessing exacerbates all those issues.

Now that someone finds these real valuable, we're ready to start producing again. Dunno where all the Th is going to go - we don't use it in lamp mantles anymore, and the welding rods we use it in don't use much.

China's limitation on exports isn't purely evil - they are just trying to capture the other value-added in making them into magnets, or even better, complete products. Nothing particularly sinister about that, they just export what's left over after their own industry demands...Just the usual greed and self interest happening. Their own production has been hampered some as rising standards of living make for fewer Chinese willing to glow in the dark now...globalization goes both ways!
 

ancona

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I would think that a peble bed reactor is the safest alternative outside of thorium because of the innate stability it offers. With a zero chance of runaway reaction and ease of fueling/re-fueling, and the fact that spent fuel is easier and safer to store and cool by virtue of design, it seems to me to be the best design. Unfortunately, here in the US, we have dozens of reactors and no two exactly alike. In France, they nified design for a number of reasons, not the least of which is reduced overall cost of replacement parts. When you have so many different designs, there can be no uniformity, making each reqactor it's own little custom world.
 

DCFusor

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Yeah, anything custom is by definition more expensive and not as well characterized as to operating and safety/emergency parameters. I think our NRC has gone to the other extreme, but that's me.

I do fusion work, but of course study all things nuclear. I've been shocked to find out how much I didn't already know about fission used in a practical situation.
(My old work got me into bomb tech, but I don't call that practical in this context)

There's a lot of tough engineering - things creep under stress, hydrogen embrittlement of metals from neutron capture, or lattice displacement from neutron knock out - this can get enough energy stored in the carbon of a pebble bed machine to make its own thermal runaway...

And then, the decay chains in that very high flux neutron environment don't go just like the books describe them in isolation. A lot of the information may as well be classified - or trade secret which can be much harder to find. Things like neutron absorption cross sections vs temperature and how the various isotope mixes evolve during burnup (and the equilibrium mix depends on history and current burn rates) that can either increase or decrease what would be critical mass. And the net reactivity is of course temperature-variable (doppler due to temperature can be used as feedback when it shifts mean neutron energy off fission cross section resonance - but not always!). And so on and so forth.

This all makes it very hard to "Red team" some of the more "innovative" possible designs and keep it honest. If I was going to have one in my own backyard, I'd probably go for a "water boiler" or CANDU design, depending on whether I could enrich U or not - but it's really too complex even for me to maintain something like that. I'd settle for a drum or two of real hot used fuel, and make a thermocouple battery buried in the yard...there's your solution to the waste problem. Just give it to me or other guys like me! Free electricity, 24/7 for life? Where do I sign?

All that is why I like fusion (assuming I ever get to decent output). At least there you can flip a switch and it just goes out right now. No requirement for super-ultra-reliable cooling stuff and having to keep air or water away from things that could catch fire.

We'll have to see what improvements I get with the new line of research I'm taking with the fusion - it might pay off. I think I've found out something everyone else has ignored that's so head-slappingly stupid it's going to be hard to take credit for, other than that I'm the guy who thought of it. It has to do with ensuring we're not trying to violate the conservation laws for spin and parity to get the reaction pathway you want, so it's a real doh - the thermal solutions depend too much on chance alignments of those things, so I'm not going to try it that way. It's one of the things I'm building when I'm not here annoying everyone.

But for the RE problem, someone needs to come up with an economic use for Th, which needs to be bred to be fissile. Breeders have a bad rap, some is deserved, but a lot of that was from the bad old days when breeding was strictly for weapons, and so was run as fast as possible - perhaps past the limits of safety. Most of the "new innovative" designs don't seem to address some of the above problems that I KNOW exist, so I'm a little skeptical of them. India seems the only country doing any serious work there, and they're not moving real fast at present.

There's been some talk of feedforward designs - either using an accelerator to make neutrons and use them in sub-critical fission reactors or for breeding, or using a fusion neutron source for that. It's a possibility...the advantages there are the sub-critical parts, a bunch of the other problems either go away or become a lot less in that case. It is at least looking very possible to get to net energy gain this way, even if fusion alone won't do it.
 

ancona

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Damn son! now my fucking brain hurts..... No, really, I am not a physicist by any stretch of the imagination, and you are CLEARLY more informed, but what I have read says that pebble beds do not have a lot of the risks of a typical BWR. I will, from now on, defer to your info as it is clearly based upon much more sound info than I have access to.

Thanks much for the info. Keep it coming. Actually, I would like to see what you have to say about the Fukushima [ongoing slow motion] disaster.]
 
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DCFusor

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Yah, it made my brain hurt, and I'm still learning about it. We're getting a little off topic to DoChen's RE thread, but maybe he'll forgive us (and we can start another one on it). And I do have a little on Fukishima.


Since my writeup got long, and it's kinda off topic, I made it into a word doc (since most of you probably don't have open office) and I'll just link it here.
Well, this board won't let me upload a 50k .doc, or even a 20k txt, so I put it on my site in a semi-secret url I keep for things like that. Hey PMBUg, buy a disk drive!

http://coultersmithing.com/data/FissionIssues.doc

But yeah, it turns out that trying to design an intrinsically safe fission reactor is a bit of a bear, even for the best and brightest. It's more a matter at some point of which risks you evaluate as being the most acceptable. Politics gets involved when you talk about things that make it scientifically safer, but increase the risk of diverting bomb making materials, for just one issue.

Humans stink at risk evaluation - people panicked over the DC Sniper, though he killed fewer people than the accidents at some intersections in DC, for example. And this is easily manipulated by the pols to create things like "the war on terror" - which if you think about it is a war on a technique - a cute way for them to grab "war powers" forever and create a police state - and the sheep fell for it. More on general security at Bruce Schneier's blog here.
 

ancona

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Neodymium is incredibly rare, yet is a critical element in so many things. The more we come to rely on rare earth elements for our technology, the closer we come to the end.
 

DCFusor

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Not to be a pedant, but from wiki:

Neodymium is never found in nature as the free element, but rather it occurs in ores such as monazite and bastnäsite that contain small amounts of all the rare earth metals. The main mining areas are in China, the United States, Brazil, India, Sri Lanka, and Australia. The reserves of neodymium are estimated at about eight million tonnes. Although it belongs to the rare earth metals, neodymium is not rare at all. Its abundance in the Earth crust is about 38 mg/kg, which is the second highest among rare-earth elements, following cerium. The world's production of neodymium was about 7,000 tonnes in 2004.[7] The bulk of current production is from China, whose government has recently imposed strategic materials controls on the element, raising some concerns in consuming countries.[8]
RE's are cheap to dig, relatively speaking, and not rare at all. They're expensive because of the waste issues with Th, and the difficulty of getting them apart from one another - they tend to be all too chemically similar until you get to end use cases, like doping magnets, or making color phosphors for picture tubes (that demand is kinda gone now, and was for europium mostly). For those cases, small impurities of the other RE's mess up the end product.

A similar situation exists for zirconium and hafnium - chemically very hard to part, yet very different in their neutron cross sections, almost the opposites of all existence that way. It's also hard to get nickel and cobalt apart - though we usually don't care that much.

Edit: to prove this, price misch metal (lighter flints). It's a big component of those, but mixed up with cerium, iron, and other hard to separate rare earths, so they are cheap by the pound.

Who knows, at some point some nano-tech might solve this separation problem and make them all cheap in pure form. Don't know that anyone is looking into it just now, though. Most of that sort of nano-tech work is in meta-materials to replace expensive catalysts now, eg make Pt and Pd not required so much - and even that is a tiny fraction of all the nano tech and meta-material work.
 
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ancona

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I don't want to come off as a dickhead here, but why are the damn magnets so freaking expensive if there is so much of this stuff floating around? Is it the process of separation alone, or what is left in the mining and process tailings that is expensive to deal with?
 

DCFusor

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You're not a dickhead, almost no one understands this.

RE ore almost always has a lot of thorium in it. Instead of being taken away, like when you mine uranium, this byproduct tends to be left at the mine-refinery as tailings, where it creates fear in the locals due to the chance of a flood or earthquake spreading it around, it's the NIMBY problem from hell.

When China started producing these, cheaper than we could, since they didn't sweat that issue, we just shut down our own production - free market at work. When their prices rose and they decided to keep more of their own production to capture more of the total value added in finished products, we started up again - free market at work.

For various, mostly political reasons, we've not come up with a use for that thorium in the requisite amounts, which would solve this half of the issue overnight. Once concentrated (because you removed the RE's and other stuff from it) it becomes a bit nasty to be around to say the least.

RE's are useless mixed for almost all uses other than lighter flints. And they are VERY hard to separate to the required purity levels required for either phosphors for CRTs and CCFLs or magnets, since despite having different magnetic or optical properties, they are so doggone similar in chemistry that you can't just get this one to precipitate out and leave the others in solution. The required effort to get the level of purity needed would make even iron expensive - and does silicon if you need it pure enough to make integrated circuits (PPB), or easier, solar panels (PPM) out of. Tiny amounts of the wrong stuff in a magnet crystal lattice let the electrons with trapped spins (way oversimplified here) get away and the magnet demagnetize. So you need them really pure for magnets. Similar issues make red phosphors with Eu require high purity - the phosphor loses its ability to change input energy into light rather than heat if there are energy-level escape pathways due to impurities.

So the ore is expensive, not for being rare, but for being contaminated by radioactive stuff - so at that step it's worse than iron, or silicon. It's no where near as rare as the PM's for example.

Step two:

Getting them apart from one another is hard, and there is no ore body that just has one, the stuff is always mixed up together. It's so hard that the way we used to have to do it was fractional crystallization, which takes many steps to get to the desired purity - perhaps a hundred. Expensive in time and energy. And once you've gotten most of the Ne out of some mother liquor, you get to do it all over again for each other RE element you want.

Now we are doing it with ion exchange in columns. The resins for that have gotten cheaper with our tech development, but it's still expensive, takes lots of passes, and the resins need regeneration after a pass; there is also still the problem of what you do with the rest after getting out the Ne.

In short, there's no simple chemical process that can be run in bulk by monkeys like with almost every other element that is mined and refined out there.

So, another big expense.

Then, making magnets ain't cheap even if the materials are. Ceramics are still the lowest cost per BH product (total magnetism), which is why all speakers and refrigerator magnets use them - even if they have to be much bigger and heavier for the same energy product. In a car or a windmill, the weight is the big deal. The loss from electromagnetic field windings in both weight and energy would be even worse. The new light powerful PM's (permanent magnets in this case) are why these new applications even exist. Even at their high prices, they're still the cheapest way to do some things, so we are doing thing we didn't used to be able to do at all, with them.

Even with all that, the RE magnets are actually almost the cheapest per BH in existence, which is why samarium-cobalt, alnico, and platinum-cobalt ($$$ - only used in space projects in the past for TWT's and magnetrons going to orbit) are going by the wayside. This is enhanced by the fact that except for the latter, the NeFeB magnets are also smaller and lighter than all the others. So in some sense, for the same function, they're cheap even now. It's just that when you're putting them into things no one would ever have thought of using a PM for in the first place, they're a major part of the total cost (windmills, electric cars). They are a diddly part of the cost of say, stereo headphones, where again it's the size and weight that matter most.

But they're not actually expensive at all when compared against other tech for the same amount of total magnetism and especially for the same weight....
Here, I made a little cyclotron using them, and believe me, compared to iron and copper electromagnets, it's a revolution - no cooling needed, and the size gets real reasonable. Actually cheaper even when the size and weight are considered. Which is why engineers worldwide are designing them into everything, creating all this new demand.
 
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DoChenRollingBearing

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I have been neglecting my duties by running around pulling money out of the bank, buying PMs (the precious, not permanent), and trying to get an attachment to go out (no success, grrr.... computers...).

---

DCFusor, I am very happy that you went through all your explanations of problems re the rare earths. Regurgitating what you said (a way to see if I understand something or not), I see three issues:

1) Thorium left behind is a big problem. Is there anywhere where we could "put it"? I read an interesting article in "Scientific American" a few years ago that proposed putting nuclear waste in big (essentially glass) cylinders in low-ish concentration and then burying them in big boreholes deep under the ocean floor (away from seismic zones, etc.).

2) I understand the chemical similarity of the various rare earths and how difficult they are to separate. You mention that there has been some progress in the chemical separation technologies, but not as much as we would like.

3) Even with the right rare earths all nicely separated out, it is still hard to make things like permanent magnets and phosphors.

OK, so if I more-or-less have the above right, I now have some questions:

a) I keep reading that only a few of the RE companies are going to survive (perhaps first to market miners). Maybe instead of trying to pick mining winners (Molycorp or Avalon for example), perhaps there is a way to play the processing of rare earths. Is there a specialty company in this space? Or is the technology pretty well out there for anyone who wants to build a separation and/or refining plant(s)?

b) I read that a company called something like Neo-Materials makes permanent magnets (for cars), I think they are in Canada. I do not know who in the US is a "pure play" on magnets (or even close) or anyone else in other rare earth uses (who make Europium red phosphors for example). I guess what I am trying to ask here is where is a "choke point" in the whole mine-to-magnet space, where can we collect a toll...? Please don't say General Electric...

c) Does the USA even have enough chemical engineers (etc.) so that we could build this industry up in the next few years? Or has the technology race(s) already been lost to China, Japan and Korea (Korea apparently makes very hi-tech magnets)? Or is this whole rare earth industry too small to support a big US investment when the other players are already there (a zero-sum game)? Or are the profit margins just too low (you sort-of hinted that with your comments about China not bothered much by Thorium)?

Many thanks! Perhaps you have seen that when I find someone who knows something I want to know about, well, I am PUSHY to take advantage of any opportunities to pick an expert's brain...

:) :) :)
 

pmbug

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DCF, I mentioned this in the Alaskan mountain thread, but seems appropriate here too. Any thoughts on whether or not this offers a better opportunity for rare earth mining?
Vast deposits of rare earth minerals, crucial in making high-tech electronics products, have been found on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and can be readily extracted, Japanese scientists said on Monday.

"The deposits have a heavy concentration of rare earths. Just one square kilometer (0.4 square mile) of deposits will be able to provide one-fifth of the current global annual consumption," said Yasuhiro Kato, an associate professor of earth science at the University of Tokyo.
...

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/04/us-rareearth-japan-idUSTRE76300320110704

Anyone know if the rare earths in the sea floor's sludge are also bound to thorium like we find in mining mountains?
 

DCFusor

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I'll have to look into your questions guys. I honestly don't know the answers to them at the moment. I know Molycorp is kind of out of their depth alone, and has made deals with some other companies to go mine-to-magnet, with the other companies providing the magnet manufacture - that's it's own whole complex set of stuff.

I know GM, way way back, figured out that making magnets half as good without doing the fancy separations fully was viable for some things, but this was a couple decades ago, and I've not heard anything since (General motors used to really do some good high tech work back in the day).

I'll just have to fish around for those answers and see what I can find out. I think DoChen and PMBug are asking the right ones in this context, though.

I suspect we have enough engineers, we might need a process scientist or a few, but time to market has to be short, and the big boys in most businesses are loath to spend money on R&D until after it's play money - usually not upfront. The government is involved for certain in this, since they are prime customers for little things that go into missiles and bombs, but they are generally neither fast nor efficient. Once a good process is developed, you can run it with grunts - by definition its not a good process unless you get there.

Stacking up any big amount of radioactive waste is a political problem already...this stuff is more dangerous in some ways than used fuel, because even though it's not as hot by far, it's dust and easy to get spread around. The NIMBY crowd just wants their toys, not to have to live with how they are made.

India is about the only country looking hard into Th reactors, since they have the monzanite sand deposits and have the same problems - but are a little more open to new things. But it's a ten or twenty year plan to get to the first real demand.

PMBug's link says the undersea stuff has about 1/5 the amount of Th in it - better but that's still a lot, so I can answer that one. Still a problem. But this points something up - that's tons of "radioactive waste" already there on the sea floor, so maybe we shouldn't panic so hard about a little that man adds....it's "natural", after all.

DoChen's A question - yes, this is correct, and it's because the stuff isn't rare, and the first couple who get the separation processing up are going to rule totally, as it will be easy to supply the world demand at that point. Right now, I heard that someone in the ex-soviet union was setting up a big processing plant - like China, they have more-lax regs on killing workers, so they get first go without the interference. That probably won't last, though.

I guess someone is going to have to spend a day of hard googling to see if there's any worthwhile press releases out there. I'd guess not everyone would be advertising though.

Sadly, if there is a choke point, it might well be GE who probably owns a crucial patent, or some other like firm. No one wants to hear me when I rant about eye-pee, but this is ever more the norm. And if it was GE, they'd just make a ton in that division, then waste all the profits propping up something else, making it a bad investment (they already do this in jet engines and medical gear).

But that's a guess, not a fact, yet.
 

DoChenRollingBearing

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Neo Material Technologies, of Canada. They look to be magnet related, I just buzzed through their site.

http://www.magnequench.com/

A recent news release, wow, these guys had revenues of $248 million in 3rd Q 2011:

http://www.magnequench.com/assets/content/ir/ir_press/a523/a564/Neo_Press_Rel_10Nov11.pdf

They are a listed company in Toronto.

---

Great Western Minerals Group Ltd. is small-ish looking, but they have processing (UK and Michigan) not just mining:

http://www.gwmg.ca/html/projects/processing/index.cfm

These guys are on stockcharts.com. ticker: GWMGF


EDIT:

Could not find in a quick set of Google searches any company involved in Europium, which is used in nuclear reactor control rods and in red phosphors for monitors and TV screens. Other than the above two companies, but Eu looks to be a sideline for them. Usually Google gives me better results than what I got for looking for companies that process Europium.


RE-EDIT:

Yes, there are two others out there with "processing" capability of one sort or another. One is MCP, who bought a decrepit ex-Soviet facility in Estonia (training grounds for their guys?).

And somebody (Stans Energy?) is doing something with an ex-Soviet plant in (Kazakhstan?). Too tired to continue this...
 
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DCFusor

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The other big use of Eu is phosphors for CCFL lamps - maybe not a growth industry just now if people decide to prefer leds. But that hasn't happened yet. My whole house is CCFLs, nearly 100% but I'm not buying a lot - once you shake out the brands that stink, they're real reliable.
 

DCFusor

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In short - almost certainly bogus. Rossi especially has all the signs of a pure fraud.
Won't let real scientists near the thing. His patent, only in Italy, rejected for lack of patentable info. His papers only published in a journal he created. His customer a secret. His other money raising efforts - prolific. His documentable energy output, nil.
Attempts to duplicate his "results" - fail, and only make the energy you'd expect from a chemical reaction of the reactants.

I work with D and T in my fusion efforts. I run a discussion board on the topic, which was "Forked" off another one that lets in 13 year olds. So many people, even some grownups with degrees, think their one silly idea is gonna solve it all, not realizing that experimenters have already tried all that - but often don't report the failures when reality strikes - it's embarrassing, and even on my forums the "it almost worked" threads don't get enough attention.

Otherwise intelligent people sometimes seem to forget that charged particles of like charge repel - except when it's convenient for them to do so. Or that energy tends to equalize between all the degrees of freedom except in very special cases (which require special documentation and explanation). Or just forget that if say, DT fusion could be done in a rice cooker (I can do it limited rates in something like that - and have) - by the time you get to power, the flux of 14 mev neutrons from that simply takes apart the fusion device pretty darn quick (hydrogen embrittlement, lattice displacement). Believe it or not, the ITER tokomak boys (world wide collaboration) forgot about that one until after they'd been working for years and spent most of the huge budget they get. They suddenly realized they if they actually got the predicted success, their reactor materials would kind of go south almost before they could take the measurements to prove it! And no, it wasn't the critical wall liner that faces the hot plasma - we're talking the structural steel and like things! How that many people can collectively be that stupid is hard to figure till you follow the money....

From where I sit, science has been gravitating toward too much specialization, too much hustling for funds, and as a result, no progress and accidental re-invention of stuff known in the '50s and before - I see it every day in press releases (and the fact that most freely available science is press releases tells you something right there).

So many things "will change the world, if" - and if and if and if - too many if's in the chain, it'll never happen (multiplied probabilities).

It's one of several reasons I'm doing my own work self-funded (a couple of people are involved) - because the beggars out there all seem to be charlatans, and I don't want any part of being painted with that brush, even though more money would be nice (a lab assistant!). I'm free to do *good* science, turn on a dime when I observe something new that forces a change in understanding, and so on. Half the discoveries I've made would never have happened in "big science" where you are run by committee and have to justify what you're doing every minute. Pretty much leaves out any opportunity for the creative lightning to strike.

I'm doing most work on the "nature" of fusion - what's the process that makes the wave functions want to converge thusly? I'm using the neutron producing reactions because they are much easier to instrument - nothing in nature makes neutrons so they make a great signature even when there's very little fusion going on. But the understanding of how it works is the real key - then you might do fusion with the a-neutronic or low neutron reactions that can be useful to the world outside of bombs.

In the meanwhile, it's just amazing how much "emergent behavior" you can get in a soup of hydrogen ions and electrons. While one bee or one ant might be pretty simple - get a few trillion of them in a box and you see some stuff you'd never predict from studying just one - and that's where most of the bogus "ideas" come from - the expectation that a group is the same as one - and that's so far from reality it's unfortunately not funny.

Talk is cheap, in other words. Show me a running experiment - and let me poke around in there, bring my own metrology gear if I want - and I'll believe a claim, not before. Explaining how it works when nothing else does - that's nice too. This is not to say you can't make money investing in a charlatan, but I prefer other venues for trading.
 

rblong2us

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From where I sit, science has been gravitating toward too much specialization, too much hustling for funds, and as a result, no progress and accidental re-invention of stuff known in the '50s and before

Thank you DCF
I love the way you are able to take topics that are considered too complex for 'outsiders' to understand and break em down into descriptions that are within, or close to, comprehension.

I have long shared your view that specialisation has simply created lots of unconnected information and we no longer have the likes of Nikola Tesla to pull it all together.

This turned up in a mail from Jeff Barwick ( Dollar Vigilante ) a few weeks ago,
seems like an opportunity to share it -



Jeff,

Thanks for your insightful article today. It both pains and pleases me that you have seen the light on what is nothing short of a highjacking of the truth in the physics community. Special relativity, quantum mechanics, the gravitational model, and of course String Theory have gifted us with a nearly 100 year standstill in the field of physics. They have come to represent the bureaucratic establishment in the field of physics and like all bureaucracies have obstructed progress, truth, and any significant study outside the fray of these "commandment theories".

The story of how should sound very familiar. Once physics was a true pursuit. An ocean of possibilities for understanding and taking control of our world. Innovators like Einstein, Bohr, Feynmann, Planck, LeVoisseur and Shroedinger made quantum leaps (pardon the pun) towards our understanding of the nature of matter, energy and the universe. But when these discoveries in turn led to rampant industrial advancement, development of powerful weapons, and social progress, they also resulted in the requisite institutional establishment seeking to protect their interests in the former areas.

Because modern physics was such a revolution, returning tangible benefits and wealth, many scientists rushed to understand that which these pioneers had set forth. A logical course of events followed. The first was that Einstein, et al no longer needed a job. They became historical icons, guests of the state, and gods in the scientific world. As a result those in the idea market, specifically folks like Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc saw that their product, curriculum, needed these types of ideas in order to remain competitive. So in lieu of the impossible task of getting one of these 'gods' to accept a menial professor position, they went out and hired those most studied in their theories.

This was the day that science died. You see the difference between Einstein, and the person most studied in Einstein's theories is that Einstein is a scientist and his devotee is a copycat. Though you probably have no experience in this if you are under 100 years old, science is actually about DISCOVERY, not memorizing the incomplete theories of scientists who came before you. And the fact is Einstein, Shroedinger, Feynmann etc were brilliant, their theories, revolutionary, but they were not free from error, nor themselves end-all-be-all answers to the questions of the universe.

So rather than take the wonderful foundations that these men gave us for a new enlightenment in the field of physics, their ideas were instead packaged as a commodity product for universities to hock as long as there was a market for them. You can probably guess where things went from there.

"Oh you have a new theory that CORRECTS the theories of EINSTEIN being taught at MIT and YALE? HA! And who are YOU?"

You see Einstein was so smart it was self defeating. He set the bar so high, that few have come along with the intellect and abilities to individually produce comparable advancements to the study of physics. And from a scientific standpoint that is OK. Science DEPENDS on most scientists dedicating a lifetime to advancing a single idea a single step. This is the reality of true scientific discovery. But with an scientific bureaucracy offering much better pay and more prestige for promoting Einstein's cult of personality, most have traded the pure pursuit of enlightenment for the easy life of selling an obsolete product at a high markup.

As a result we have spent 100 years pursuing the same dead ends that Einstein and Shroedinger ran into, while justifying every failure with the consolation that at least we are wearing the most popular brands. It is another sad case of rent seeking bureaucrats trading something pure and universally enriching for lining their own pockets with a sure buck that they can recycle in perpetuity.

You may be surprised to learn that this neutrino is only the latest hammer to fall on the flawed assumptions of general relativity. NASA Astronomers have for years witnessed particles being ejected from supernovas at many times the speed of light. Forget a difference of 60 nanoseconds, were talking about MULTIPLES of C. Yet rather than believe their own eyes they concoct ridiculous theories about dark matter and corollaries about gravitational behavior so as not to betray the gospel.

Want a good laugh? Ask any Ivy League professor why comets have tails. Is the comet traveling faster than the light trailing behind it? That would be blasphemy save for the fact that this is clearly what everybody sees. Of course the electric model explains this perfectly. Conductive material passing through the web of electrical potential in deep space creates a continuous spark as it disrupts the potential gradient it traverses. Its middle school science, we see it with our own eyes, yet WE'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE IT.

You were probably taught in school that the sun is made of plasma which is exceedingly dense and a fingernail-sized piece of sun matter would weigh as much as Mount Everest. I know I was. Then I got my first job in a chemical lab, doing metals analysis. We used an instrument called ICP (Ion Chromatography by PLASMA) to separate metals in solutions. The instrument sat neatly on a tabletop, contained a plasma generating ion source, yet weighed about 75 lbs. When I asked the Ph.D. lab director why it didn't weigh a million million tons, she looked at me like I was from another planet.

I got the same response when I asked the same question of another Ph.D. while operating cyclotrons at another job, where we cooked heavy water in a plasma beam to form Fluoride (which of course is Alchemy, another thing that supposedly doesn't exist).

Anyway this is getting a little long but I appreciated your article and wanted to give you a little perspective. I wish I could tell you that the reason that science is ruined is not the same reason our entire society, government, constitution and concept of liberty is ruined but unfortunately it is.

Bureaucrats, rent seekers, and copycats have conspired to ruin perhaps the best chance we've ever had of achieving a new level of enlightenment, comfort and intellect. They have sold us junkscience that is tragically wrong, and defended only through the safety of numbers. Numbers bought at the cost of genuine scientific inquiry and the scientific process itself. EVERYBODY IS WRONG. The electric universe theory fills in all the gaps of the laughable theories in vogue for the last 100 years. But until it can justify the cost of a multibillion dollar supercollider or Universities admitting to selling an obsolete product at premium prices, it will remain behind the curtain. Sad but typical. Thanks for at least giving me hope that there are still a few free thinkers out there...

Regards,

Derek Donohue

Box Scientific
 

DoChenRollingBearing

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Sure am glad that I did not buy Molycorp as a speculation, it is down 14% today. I heard a vague reference at "CNBS" that there is bad guidance for next year.

So, fellas! What do you say re making money in rare earths? Is it that there IS NO money because China has it all locked up (lots of REs there, cheap labor, etc.)?

In an email to Avalon Rare Earths, I mentioned to their lady (my contact) that they should see if they can get a contract with the Pentagon to supply their equipment suppliers who use REs.
 

rblong2us

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Yeah Do Chen

you are probably right to bring us back on topic.

Do we need a drifting waay off topic icon, or is the light emmiting hand already covering this role ? :flushed:

regarding investing in rare earths, I am beginning to see a pattern.
If its important, its getting manipulated downwards by the bad guys and if its the latest 'musthave', its getting the opposite treatment.

No doubt they will switch this around from time to time.

Investment advice is simple, forget fundamentals, find out what they intend to do and when.
 

DoChenRollingBearing

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Yeah rbelong:

That's what it looks like, manipulation... And there are lots of algos out there that are special-made to trip the technical traders too...

---

Probably the same going on with gold, silver and platinum. I just saw at (24hgold.com) that someone says that COMEX is down to approx. 80 tonnes physical, about one month's worth, so cash settlement coming soon... And probably right after I post, someone will have this story up, right here at pmbug!

*** Note that the Bearing knows very little about COMEX machinations! ***

The eBay / 24hgold widget shows about 16% premium (pretty high) for Gold Eagles vs. spot. Silver Eagle premium is very high too (52%). The pattern I have noticed before is that the premiums EXPAND a lot as the sellers do not want to cut prices to match the plunges. Eventually the gold premium gets back to its usual 5.5% - 8.0% which is more typical.
 
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pmbug

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Bump...

...
According to the US Congressional Research service, world demand for rare earth elements is estimated at 136,000 tons per year, with production around 133,600 tons in 2010. The difference was covered by depleting stockpiles of previously mined material. World demand is projected to rise to at least 185,000 tons annually by 2015, and to top 200,000 well before the end of the decade.

The result has been soaring world prices. Some of the more prized rare earths trade at more than six times their 2009 prices on the global markets, and more than double domestic Chinese prices, according to data published by an Australian miner, Lynas Corp.
...
According to Technology Metals Research, an Illinois-based consultancy, there are at least 426 rare-earth projects under development by some 259 different companies in 36 different countries. Likely sources of new production can be found in Malaysia, Russia, Brazil and India - and at that old Mountain Pass mine in California.

Molycorp, which bought Mountain Pass from Chevron in 2008, went from a standing start to bringing in revenues of $US397m last year, mainly from processing existing stockpiles. The company is restarting mining activity and says it will be producing at an annual rate of 19,050 metric tons of rare earth oxide by the end of September.

David Abraham, a Jakarta-based resource analyst speaking to Reuters yesterday, said adding new global capacity was the only real way out of the impasse, WTO or no WTO.

"The world still faces a critical shortfall of certain rare earth elements," he said. "That's not a China problem, that's a global one."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10793294
 

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You have to be really careful on supply/demand here. You'd want to know whose numbers you were using, specifically. A lot of times, rosy (for the supplier) demand projections assume nothing else will go wrong with the world, or an optimistic projection for base rate growth is used that pans out wrong more often than not. Their publicity for shareholders is rampant with this stuff.

But when prices are high, things have a real tendency to come online quicker than projected.

RE's are largely used in alt energy things (my car, windmills) and bling (Apple stuff, disk drives) - both of which are often the first to suffer in any downturn.

It does bear watching, but if China slows down further, or the EU or US - the demand will be reduced quite a lot while the hard-rock boys go into overdrive to start making money.
 

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A Congressional Research Service report on rare earth elements suggests the U.S. Defense Department has yet to fully appreciate the severity of the potential impacts a lack of domestic rare earths may have on U.S. weapon systems.

...

... The CSR asserts "the United States almost entirely lacks the refining, fabricating, metal-making, alloying, and magnet manufacturing capacity to process rare earths." The report highlights one U.S. company, Electron Energy Corporation, which manufactures SmCo permanent magnets, now using rare earths for which there is no U.S. production.

Among the elements needed to produce NeFeB rare earth magnets are small amounts of dysprosium and possibly terbium, the CSR observes. "Currently, dysprosium and terbium are only available from China."

"Clearly, rare earth supply limitations present a serious vulnerability to our national security," the Congressional Research Service noted. "Yet early indications are that the DOD has dismissed the severity of the situation to date."

The CRS report suggests Congress consider both short-range and long-range options for securing a source for rare earth elements as part of its oversight role in addressing U.S. national security interests.

Among the actions Congress could take are meeting with defense suppliers at all tiers of the supply chain "to ascertain their knowledge of material shortages and bottlenecks."

Congress could also require the DOD to convene the Strategic Materials Protection Board to define more rare earth elements as strategic to national security, the report advises. So far, the SMPB has only defined one rare earth element, beryllium as strategic to national security.

The report also suggests that Congress consider requiring a strategic rare earth element stockpile to increase the security of the U.S. domestic rare earths supply. "Congress may consider compiling a ‘virtual' stockpile database, with commitments and contracts with suppliers to buy the items when needed."

Other recommendations for congressional action contained in the report include: federal funding of downstream supply capacity where material shortfalls exist; and federal funding of rare earth application sciences in curriculums for military and other government institutes or in national research and development centers.

Should the DOD determine that rare earths fall into the classification of critical materials, CSR advises Congress could institute a new Critical Materials Program.

Finally, the report suggests, "Congress may encourage DOD to pursue joint ventures with other nations, as many other nations are seeking alternatives to a near total dependence on rare earths from China. However, the CRS advises, "It is critical for DOD to consider the implications of sourcing utilized by these partner nations. For example, if DOD relies on a partner nation for its rare earth metals, and that nation procures their oxides from China, this partnership may not provide the requisite security of supply."

http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page72068?oid=149437&sn=Detail
 

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Provincial and local officials in China's Guangdong Province have busted illegal rare earth mining operations, recovering 1,000 tonnes of illegally mined rare earths, as well as arresting 50 suspects.
...
The mines are spread across a large area in Guangdong, which makes them difficult to monitor for illegal activities, especially since illegal mining and smuggling of rare earths generate high profits, said Xiao Fangming, director of the Guangzhou Research Institute of Non-Ferrous Minerals.

Xiao has suggested strengthening the monitor of the rare earth separating plants in the province, which have a total combined capacity of 15,000 metric tons annually.

The government has approved the mining of 2,000 metric tons of rare earth oxides a year in Guangdong, but actual production surpassed 40,000 metric tons because of illegal mining.

http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/view/mineweb/en/page72068?oid=156387&sn=Detail
 

rblong2us

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theres all the evidence you need that they are not so rare but the chinese will do what they can to make em rare to everyone else
 

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* super necro bump *

Saw this article today and I thought about this discussion:
... according to Renewables Consulting Group (RCG), “the use of REEs has faced criticism due to price volatility and political issues surrounding the supply chain.” Not to mention the millions of tons of acidic pollution generated by conventional extraction methods, and the renewable energy industry doesn’t look so green anymore. That is why Paul J. Antonick and Zhichao Hu, members of the thermodynamics team at the Rutgers University School of Engineering, came up with a natural solution.

They discovered a new way to get these elements out of phosphate rock waste – also known as phosphogypsum. They found out that mineral and organic acids – made by naturally occurring bacteria called Gluconobacter oxydanscould – can do the job instead of using harsh chemicals. If they can figure out a way to scale this new method up, it would mean less of a reliance on REE mining, as well as less, toxic chemicals usually deployed to extract the elements from metal ores. It would be a huge boost for clean energy development.
...
This study only looked at synthetic phosphogypsum produced in the lab. Next, they will test if this method also works on waste actually produced by the industry. Phosphogypsum is actually a waste by-product of phosphoric acid production for fertilizers. According to Futurity, “each year, the U.S. mines an estimated 250 million tons of phosphate rock to produce phosphoric acid for fertilizers.”

In other words, there’s a lot of it – about 100,000 tons of these REEs end up in phosphate rock waste every year. Theoretically speaking, the amount of waste produced means the annual production of rare earth oxides could be almost doubled if they can get this to work, even though the elements only make up about 0.1 percent of phosphate rock.
...

More: https://www.intelligentliving.co/better-extract-rare-elements/
 

rblong2us

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Theres evidence in pre historic gold mines in S. Africa of the gold having been leached out of its seam without the need to mine a big enough hole around the deposit to access the narrow vein.

So possibly not a new idea but development of new solvents could change things and turning waste streams into useful products is exercising the minds of a lot of smart folk.
 

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pmbug

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Beijing has readied a plan to restrict exports of rare earths to the U.S. if needed, as both sides in the trade war dig in for a protracted dispute, according to people familiar with the matter.

The government has prepared the steps it will take to use its stranglehold on the critical minerals in a targeted way to hurt the U.S. economy, the people said. The measures would likely focus on heavy rare earths, a sub-group of the materials where the U.S. is particularly reliant on China. The plan can be implemented as soon as the government decides to go ahead, they said, without giving further details.
...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/arti...-earths-plan-ready-to-go-if-trade-war-deepens
 

rblong2us

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is Gold a heavy rare earth ?

China seems to already have taken steps to restrict exports ....... (-;
 

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Canada’s Medallion Resources Ltd (MDL.V) ... said it is seeking proposals from contractors to help build a plant to process the metals from the reddish-brown phosphate mineral monazite, a sand containing high concentrations of rare earths.

The company has relationships with monazite suppliers in the U.S. Southeast, but likely would build its plant in the center of North America, eyeing the region between Texas and Saskatchewan, Chief Executive Officer Don Lay said in a an interview.
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The company declined to provide financial figures for the project or lay out a timeline.
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California’s privately held Mountain Pass mine is the only operating U.S. rare earths facility, while Australia’s Lynas Corp Ltd (LYC.AX) in May agreed to build a rare earth processing facility in the country with Texas-based Blue Line Corp.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-...or-rare-earths-extraction-plant-idUSKCN1U4168

...
Since 2011, when Scott became the president and CEO of Littleton, Colorado-based Rare Earth Resources, the veteran mining executive and metallurgical engineer has been trying to get a massive stash of rare earth — a metallic element that's used in cellphones, electric vehicle batteries, fluorescent lights, defense, clean energy and much more — out of Bear Lodge, a small mountain range tucked away in the northeast corner of the state, about 40 miles from South Dakota's border.

According to mining experts, Bear Lodge is home to one of the richest and highest-grade rare earth deposits in the U.S., with an estimated 18 million tons of rare earth inside. Scott thinks there could be more than that. "It's an enormous, and enormously important, deposit," he says.

But despite efforts to get the metal out of the ground — Rare Earth Resources has been exploring the area since 2004, while others have tried here and there to mine it since the metal was first discovered in the area in 1949 — it remains stuck in the mountain. "It's a great resource," says Scott. "But we keep hitting a brick wall."
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One issue is regulation — it takes a while to get the proper permits, says Scott. From 2010 to 2014, the company collected all sorts of environmental data, which it then showed to the U.S. Forest Service. In January 2016 it received a draft environmental impact statement from the government agency, which recommended that the project go ahead. Before it could receive the final impact statement, though, rare earth prices cratered — neodymium fell from about $85/kg to about $46 in 2016 (it's now at $75/kg) — and the project had to be put on hold.
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In April, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski introduced the Rare Earth Element Advanced Coal Technologies Act, which would allocate $23 million a year to the Department of Energy and its National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) through 2027 to help develop technologies that could extract rare earth elements from coal and coal by-products in U.S. mines.
...

More: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/10/wyo...rare-earth-minerals-trade-war-with-china.html
 

rblong2us

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If rare earths become so rare that a countries economy is effected, its government will change the rules so they can be extracted and refined rather than imported.
 

pmbug

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* bump *

Canada will have rare earth processing plant in operation by the end of 2022 as the province of Saskatchewan has committed C$31 million (about $24m) to build the facility, which aims at boosting domestic supply of the key ingredients for military weapons, electric vehicles and smartphones.

The process of turning rare earth elements (REE) ore into individual products is done in two main stages. The first is the concentration of ore to mixed REE Carbonate. The second is the more complex separation stage that converts the mixed REE Carbonate to commercial pure-grade REEs. The facility, owned and operated by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC), will address both stages of REE processing.

The province said it would be the first of its kind in Canada, adding that it is expected to be an industry model for future commercial rare earth expansion.
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Setting an independent domestic rare earth and critical minerals supply chain has become a priority for Canada and, particularly, the United States. Both currently rely on China, which accounts for 70% of global production.
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The 69,000 square foot plant will be located in north Saskatoon and will employ about two-dozen people. The facility is expected to be fully operational in late 2022 with construction beginning this fall.

 

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Thanks administrator ;-) That's a very interesting article that I will keep for my records also. I have a keen interest in ''dark horse'' and '' underdog'' stocks that are affordable, with a future.

One of the subjects in a similar branch to rare earth metals ( PS: I'm writing this on top of my head, it doesn't really sound true, I know, but this is not a paid article) is Vanadium. Not really common, most people know little, if not next to nothing, regarding this. It's used as an alloy in tools& reinforced metal doors, panels, etc. My guess is that, until recently, since there was no use aside the two aforementioned in the previous line, and it was also easier to deal with Chinese import.

Now, with the ghost of trade war looming over us, and the fact that the mining industry is kickstarting again...

...not to mention the fact that there is a potential for batteries made with vanadium (the article that follows doesn't go in much detail about this but it's interesting to mention that, as opposed to lithium batteries, they a) last longer b) don't need to ''cool down'' c) don't have much of a carbon footprint
(the graphic sums it up better) mind you, I'm not against Lithium, I just find it very toxic and slightly embarrassing. It was very useful for years, namely in pocket sized rechargeable batteries.

Anyways, I'll also include, for good measure, an article from a Uk-based company that isn't in the market yet. So My first post doesn't sound like a pump N dump. Nice forum! looking forward to add my two cents ;)
vanadium-vs-lithium-360x234.jpg
 
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