antique mining equipment

antique mining equipment

The early mining of iron ore in Minnesota was carried on with the most primitive kind of tools. The pioneers used only such equipment as could be packed from Duluth through one hundred miles of forest to the first mines on the Vermilion Range and the operations were carried on with picks, shovels, hand drills and wheelbarrows, the ore being hoisted in buckets with a horse winch and carted in horse drawn wagons to the stockpile. This was about the extent of the mechanical Antique Mining Equipment of the Minnesota iron mines in the early eighties.

As soon as a railroad was pushed through from Two Harbors to the Vermilion Range the equipment began to be improved upon; wood burning steam boilers were installed and small steam puffers displaced the horse-winches, wheelbarrows were abandoned and small cars were introduced. Hauling the hoisted ore in wagons was discontinued and trestles were built so that the ore could be stockpiled more cheaply through the use of cars and high piles. These same stockpiles were loaded by hand into the 10 and 15 ton capacity railroad ore cars.

Within a few years a marked change took placethe hand drill gave place to the air drill, such as No. 3 Rands, Ingersolls, Sargents and some Sullivans. Tramming was done by mules, the ore hoisted in self-dumping skips, hoisting engines were introduced and it seemed as though mining as a business in Minnesota had come to stay. At this stage someone conceived the idea of making the stockpile floor about three feet above the top of the ore cars to facilitate the hand loading of stockpile ore for transportation. This was done through the use of wheelbarrows at first and later by using 1-ton cars running on tracks laid on the stockpile floor.

At the beginning of the nineties we find that another marked change has taken place. Air drills were improved, shops were erected and mine equipment was manufactured on the property. The ore skips gave way to the car cage with its landing gates and, at that time, wonderful safety dogs. The car cage was made necessary because the first ore crushers (of the jaw type) had been installed and the car that was loaded with ore from the underground chutes was trammed to the shaft, run into the cage, hoisted to the surface, then run off and it finally dumped its load into the crushers, where the chunks were reduced to the proper size and the ore then run out onto the stockpile.

At this stage we see the use of stockpile trestles that had considerable grade from the crushers to the pile. The car was first attached to one end of the cable with a counter-weight running on a very steep incline attached to the other end of the cable. The idea was that the loaded car would pull the counter-weight to the top of the incline and when the car was dumped the counter-weight would pull it back. This was improved upon by later double tracking the trestle and two cars were fastened, one to each end of the cable, and in this way the loaded car running out always pulled the empty car back to the crusher.

The next step was the introduction of the first crude electric arc lighting system installed at the Soudan mines, the installation of large hoisting engines, of the Corliss or drum type, and large air compressors. About this time the railroads brought out their 25 tons capacity ore cars.

At this time, in the early nineties, mining in a small way was started on the Mesabi Range. Shafts were sunk and underground method adopted, but as ore bodies were discovered having a very shallow overburden, it was soon decided to strip this overburden. This was started by using teams, scrapers and wagons, then teams and 1-ton side dump cars. But hand stripping was too slow and the next move was the introduction of the first steam shovel.

It is interesting to note that the first shovel used for loading stockpile ore at the Soudan mines was in danger of destruction by the miners, presumably because it displaced scores of men who made a practice of loading stockpile ore by hand and who thought they were being deprived of a livelihood.

The early types of steam shovels were far different from the machines in use today. The dipper was thrust out by a steam piston with the cylinder fastened about the middle of the underside of the boom. The swinging was done by two steam cylinders, one on each side of the shovel and the piston of each was fastened to one end of a rope that was wrapped around the circle. When one piston was forced out the other piston was forced into its cylinder and the boom was swung in one direction; reversed operations of the pistons Swung the boom in the other direction. These first shovels were all friction driven from one main engine and at first were fitted with upright boilers.

With the advent of steam shovels in stripping work came the introduction of small steam locomotives known locally as dinkies and weighing from 6 to 12 tons. The track consisted of 20 to 30-lb., rails, 24 to 36-in. gauge of track and the trains consisted of 1-yd. to 4 cu. yd. side dump cars.

With the introduction of the open pit method of mining there seemed to be no reason why the railroad cars could not be taken down into the pit and loaded. This method was adopted and has continued to date. The only change has been in the use of larger cars.

After the open pit mines were decided to be most advantageous in the point of economy on the Mesabi Range, the operators began improving their equipment by increasing its size and capacity. The 35-ton pioneer shovel was developed until it weighs 300 tons and is operated by either steam or electricity today. Its dipper has a capacity of 16 times that of the original; its capacity both in reach and loading is many times that of the shovels of the early days. The little 1 cu. yd. dump cars of wood construction have grown to a capacity of 30 cu. yds. The latest cars are constructed entirely of steel and are automatically operated by compressed air. The small 6-ton dinky steam locomotive has given way to a standard locomotive weighing 60 to 100 tons on the drivers, equipped with the latest air brake apparatus, using superheated steam and is electric lighted.

The small steam hoist, air compressors and pumps gave way to larger and more improved types and finally steam equipment is being replaced by electrically driven machines. The first ore may have been hoisted in a bucket by a horse winch, but today the ore is loaded from self-measuring pockets into self-dumping skips, and hoisted by high speed electric hoists with such safety appliances that an overwind is practically impossible.

The original hand tramming, underground, has given way to the mule, and the mule to the electric and gasoline locomotives. The air rock drills of the old Rand type have been replaced by the more efficient water piston type, and the end dumping main level car is no more, but in its place is found either the gable bottom or the more speedy rotary dump, in which a whole train can be dumped, at once.

Of late years the operators have been confronted by a very serious problem: namely, the growing scarcity of labor. The scarcity of labor is responsible for such devices as track shifters and tie tampers in the open pits, doing better and more, efficient work with fewer men, and which are valuable additions to the Range machinery family. To increase the efficiency of labor we ascribe the introduction of such devices as air augers and underground loading machines. Every effort, and much money, is being spent in an endeavor to find some sort of mechanical device that will speed up the mining in shaft mines, but recently nothing has been invented that really marks a definite step forward for greatly increased production, as did some of the early inventions.

Not only has machinery been invented to make mining easier and more profitable, but lately we have seen the erection of Ore Washing Plants for mechanical treatment of siliceous ores, and drying plants for driving off excess moisture. In the early days certain ores that were mixed with rock and considered poor, were seldom shipped; today we find such ores screened mechanically, sending the rock to the waste pile and the ore into railroad cars.

All through history of iron mining in Minnesota one great fact seems to stand out above everything else, and that is the wonderful progressiveness of the industry, the constant striving for better and more profitable methods and equipment. One needs but to think of the horse-winch and bucket laboriously hoisting- one ton of ore several times per hour in the wilderness forty years ago, and then look at the 300 ton shovels scooping up 16 tons of ore per lift almost every minute; at the throbbing locomotives, power plants, and the many busy and prosperous communities, and then realize that this wonderful progress was made possible mainly because the men engaged in the mining industry from the pioneers to the men of today have been vigilant and ever on the lookout for better and more rapid means of doing this work.

mucking machines

mucking machines

Mucking machines are small compressed air operated front end loaders designed for underground mining. Mucking machines were the first that were introduced in Bisbee mines in the late 1930s to early 1940s replacing hand mucking in the crosscuts and later into some stopes. In Bisbee the mucking machines were referred to as Finlays (in Bisbee pronounced Finley) no matter what brand or model with the exception of Cavos. The Finlay name comes from one of the inventors John Finlay who with Edwin Royle developed the first successful design. The Eimco 12B was the dominant mucking machine used underground in Bisbee. The other types of mucking machines used were the Eimco 21, Gardner Denver GD9, Atlas Copco Cavo 310 and 310L. The basic operation of mucking machines is similar between types; the main differences are in the set-ups between drifts and stopes.

A typical drift setup for mucking with a Finlay is using either a canton or super switch installed with slide rails advancing to the face. Super switch or a canton switch is used to exchange full cars for empty cars. For quick loading the switch should be set back about 40 ft. from where the mucking is to take place. Super switches are to be used only when H cars are employed. Slide rails are rails that are laid down sideways, with the ball placed inside an upright rail. The side rails are then spiked down in a fashion that allows them to be sled forward with a bar or pick. The side rails are used to temporally extend the permanent rails to the face so mucking could be completed. The mine car to be loaded is usually connected directly to the Findlay so it can be towed. On occasion the mine car will be blocked into place and the Findlay will load a bucket and then back up to where the mine car is then load it. If loading E cars, a modified 12B is used that has a piece of metal welded on it to raise the rocker arm. This modification keeps the bucket from catching on the lip of the E car.

The Finlay is operated by a miner standing on a step located on the side of the machine. In this position the operator could work the two controls, one for the bucket movement and the other regulates the Finlays travel. In mucking the operator will drive the Finlay into the muck pile with a lowered bucket until the machine stalls with the wheel still turning. The operator will crowd the bucket into the muck to fill it using a few quick jabs of the bucket control which causes the bucket to rise in the muck filling it. The bucket when full will hold between 4 and 6 cubic feet with and could remove 30 cubic ft. per minute. The bucket is attached to a drive motor by a rocker pull chain located at the bottom center of the rocker arms. When the bucket is full of muck the operator actuates the control for the drive motor, force is then exerted on the rockers arms. This force rolls the bucket rearward with such inertia that when the bucket hits the shock absorbing stops the muck is thrown from the bucket into the awaiting mine car. The Finlay will bounce and the front wheels will raise a couple of inches off the rail when the bucket hits the spring stops, this will also occur when the bucket is roughly let down raising the back wheels. The dumping of the bucket needs to be done in one smooth motion to keep from spilling muck on top of the Finlay. While mucking, advance the center of the muck pile ahead of the sides this will keep the track clean. The muck pile will need to be kept sloped for safety. When finishing up the mucking do not drag the bucket against the face to keep from damaging the machine. Raw drift blast will fill from 26 to 32 H cars, timbered drift blast will fill 50 H cars. All types of mucking machine are dangerous to use, the bouncing makes them easy to derail. Common accidents are operator getting pinned between rib and the machine, also the operator getting hit with the bucket.

Finlays and Cavos were also used in cut and fill stopes. A Finlay stopes will be on the level with a cross cut from the main drift entering it. Inside the stope a slusher will be set up to drag the muck to tracks that have a Finlay on them. The Finlay would then load the muck into cars which were taken out.

The Cavo 310 is basically a rubber tired Finlay with a dump bed attached. These were brought underground in Bisbee for use in the cut and fill stopes. The typical scenario is a open stope with good ground and little timber. The stope will have a pocket with a grizzly on it going to the level below. The Cavo will load its bed from a muck pile and then go and dump into the pocket. The operation of the Cavo is similar to Finlays. The mucking should be started on the right side first, this is the blind side of the Cavo and will prevent it from running over boulders which can cause the loader to turn over or throw the operator. The Cavo should be advanced into the muck pile with the bucket down, raise the bucket as the machine is moved forward filling the bucket. Then discharge the load into the Cavos dump bed and back the Cavo up a little so the bucket can be lowered to the ground. Repeat this until the dump bed is filled. Then the Cavo is backed up to the pocket and dumped. When mucking, avoid spinning the tires this causes tire damage. The operator needs to always control the Cavo from the platform this will prevent them from running over themselves. The operator will have to pay close attention to the bull hose (4OD air hose) so it does not get run over. The Cavos bounce is greater than Finlays because of the tires this makes them very dangerous to operate.

12s are the earliest version of Eimco products used in Bisbee and are sometimes referred to as 11s. The 12 version that does not automatically reposition its self for a straight discharge of the muck into the car by the machine.( this was corrected in the 12b version) By the 1960s these machines had fallen into disuse were rarely used. The 12B was the prevailing machine used underground mines worldwide until the introduction of the LHD. 12Bs are currently still in production with used ones still commanding between $4,000 and $6,000. Bisbee only saw the use of a few 21s because of large drift size need to operate them. They are still made today current prices of used models are $12,000 to $14,000.

The 310 is most modern piece of mining equipment used underground in Bisbee. Introduced in Bisbee the 1970s, a limited number were purchased and saw use in the boreholes at the Cole Mine. They were continued to be used until the Bisbee mines were shut down. Rebuilt 310s are currently available, as are parts.

Mucking machine Used in Bisbee MuckerUsed in Bisbee Auto loader Finlay in Bisbee pronounced Finley

wwww.antiqbuyer.com mining & old west antiques

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I buy, sell, and deal in mining related items from the California Gold Rush Era and those mining antiques that are related to the gold and silver mining that went on in this area from the period spanning roughly from the late 1840's to the first quarter of the 20th century.We are also interested in mining related artifacts and lighting devices from other parts of the country. Especially carbide mining lights, oilwick lights, and miners safety lamps. We use to live in the foothills of California, outside of Placerville and Coloma, where John Marshallfirst discovered gold in 1849 at Sutter Mill. It is an area that is rich in history and old lore, but like the gold it is most famous for, now near depleted of all antiques related to its rich mining heritage. I am seeking all sorts of mining related artifacts having to do with this historic era and locale for inclusion on our antique sales pages at www.Patented-Antiques.com. Below I will briefly discuss and picture a few mine lighting devices and give you a general outline of the sorts of mining related antiques we are interested in. Mine Lighting Lighting in mines was both a vital necessity and dangerous proposition. Through the years several different types of mine lighting evolved, and then disappeared. After the introduction of electricity and battery powered lighting most live flame related ideas were obsolete and relegated to the realm of collectability.The use of live flames from candles used in candlesticks, oil in oilwick lamps, carbide lamps,or even the light provided by Safety or Davey lamps came to an end. All forms of earlier mine lighting are of interest. From the earliest miners candlesticks, to candlesticks that have unusual patented features, or examples with ornate file work or other decoration on them. There are so many different variations that books have been written on the subject. There is also a large reference book covering all forms of Mine Lighting in general by a fellow named Pohs. It is considered the bible in the field of mine light collecting. Miners Candlesticks can be markedwith the maker or mine name.Candlestickswere often made by blacksmiths and so there are many many unique and different examples that can be found. Some are very crude and utilitarian, while others are superb pieces of workmanship and are consideredpieces of art. Unusual candlesticks can have fuse cutters built in to them, or can fold up to be more compact, or even those that come apart (known as take-downs) for easier transport and storage. There are also examples with different means to hold the candle, or candlesticks that have storage area for matches, and even one variety or type that has an area in the loop handle to try and hide a little bit of gold from the mine owners on the way out of the mine. These are called High Graders.Values for candlesticks can range from as low as 25.00-50.00 for common generics to thousands for rare patented examples or other one of a kind examples. There are fakes in the world to contend with as well. Early mine lighting devices known as oil wick lamps or teapots are associated with coal mines. Oil wick lamps came in a myriad of different materials, shapes, sizes, and designsExamples made of different materials from the normal ---- tin or sheet steel, usually command a premium.Lamps made from materials such as aluminum, brass, copper, cast iron and other materials are eagerly sought. Some of these antique lighting devices have interesting designs etched into them, and others have ID plaques from the mine, or from mining organizations such as the Mineworkers of America - MWA. . Those that are different from the norm are of particular interest and can still bring good money while common or typical ones sell for $50.00 or less. If you have any old mine lighting devices or other mining related antiques that you want to sell contact me at [email protected] as many details as possible. Carbide mining lamps were the next source of light to be introduced. It was a means still being used long after electrical lighting was available, but for various reasons was still being developed and used in mining. This source of light was relatively short lived but during their heyday, near the turn of the last century and up until about the 20's there were many different varieties patented and put on the market. Some of these lamps are quite rare today, while others such as those by the three most common makers---Justrite, Auto-Lite, and Guys Dropper---can be found in nearly every antique shop or at every flea market in the country on any given day for $20.00 - $40.00 or so.You can even find modern day Butterfly brand carbide lamps that are made in Hong Kong or China. There are scores of other much less common names available.Pictured on the left is an example of a fairly hard to find carbide that is made of aluminum called the Lumi-Lamp. These aluminum carbide lamps, unless unfired or unused, are usually in rough condition because of the tendency to corrode from the effects of the carbide gas, moisture, and the corrosive nature of the mixture and the gas that they produced when the water was added to the carbide to generate the acetylene gas that was then lit to produce the light. The basic idea was right, looking for a material that was strong, light,and would not rust, but I suppose they did not count on the nature of the gas that was going to be created, and obviously the choice of material was not studied enough. Just above is a nickel plated lamp marked T I P that is a bit different as well. That really stands for It's Trouble Proof. Names of some other good carbide lamps are Wolf, Anton, Funk Bros, What Cheer, X-ray, Victor, and many others.Some of these lamps can sell for many hundreds of dollars if in nice condition. Other mining related antiques that we are interested in buying would be dynamite boxes, dynamite blasting boxes, what are referred to as dynamite cap tins, as well as dynamite crimpers, and other blasting / mining related antiques. I am also interested in antique surveying tools that are related to mining such as unusual plumb bobs or plummets, dip needles or compasses, as well as mining transits with auxiliary scopes, inclinometer levels, and other devices used in the construction and layout of mines. The above mining related antiques are examples of the caliber, condition and quality of these types of antiques that we are primarily interested in. To see some examples of past sales in this category please go to our Mining Past Sales Page If you have quality antique mining related antiques and Old West related antiques that you want to sell, please contact us at [email protected] providing me with as many details as possible. Thank you!! To see many other examples of mining or old west related antiques that we currently have for sale, please go to our sister site at www.Patented-Antiques.com and visit the numerous sale pages you will find there. Thank you!! Larry & Carole

Lighting in mines was both a vital necessity and dangerous proposition. Through the years several different types of mine lighting evolved, and then disappeared. After the introduction of electricity and battery powered lighting most live flame related ideas were obsolete and relegated to the realm of collectability.The use of live flames from candles used in candlesticks, oil in oilwick lamps, carbide lamps,or even the light provided by Safety or Davey lamps came to an end. All forms of earlier mine lighting are of interest. From the earliest miners candlesticks, to candlesticks that have unusual patented features, or examples with ornate file work or other decoration on them. There are so many different variations that books have been written on the subject. There is also a large reference book covering all forms of Mine Lighting in general by a fellow named Pohs. It is considered the bible in the field of mine light collecting. Miners Candlesticks can be markedwith the maker or mine name.Candlestickswere often made by blacksmiths and so there are many many unique and different examples that can be found. Some are very crude and utilitarian, while others are superb pieces of workmanship and are consideredpieces of art. Unusual candlesticks can have fuse cutters built in to them, or can fold up to be more compact, or even those that come apart (known as take-downs) for easier transport and storage. There are also examples with different means to hold the candle, or candlesticks that have storage area for matches, and even one variety or type that has an area in the loop handle to try and hide a little bit of gold from the mine owners on the way out of the mine. These are called High Graders.Values for candlesticks can range from as low as 25.00-50.00 for common generics to thousands for rare patented examples or other one of a kind examples. There are fakes in the world to contend with as well. Early mine lighting devices known as oil wick lamps or teapots are associated with coal mines. Oil wick lamps came in a myriad of different materials, shapes, sizes, and designsExamples made of different materials from the normal ---- tin or sheet steel, usually command a premium.Lamps made from materials such as aluminum, brass, copper, cast iron and other materials are eagerly sought. Some of these antique lighting devices have interesting designs etched into them, and others have ID plaques from the mine, or from mining organizations such as the Mineworkers of America - MWA. . Those that are different from the norm are of particular interest and can still bring good money while common or typical ones sell for $50.00 or less.

If you have any old mine lighting devices or other mining related antiques that you want to sell contact me at [email protected] as many details as possible. Carbide mining lamps were the next source of light to be introduced. It was a means still being used long after electrical lighting was available, but for various reasons was still being developed and used in mining. This source of light was relatively short lived but during their heyday, near the turn of the last century and up until about the 20's there were many different varieties patented and put on the market. Some of these lamps are quite rare today, while others such as those by the three most common makers---Justrite, Auto-Lite, and Guys Dropper---can be found in nearly every antique shop or at every flea market in the country on any given day for $20.00 - $40.00 or so.You can even find modern day Butterfly brand carbide lamps that are made in Hong Kong or China. There are scores of other much less common names available.Pictured on the left is an example of a fairly hard to find carbide that is made of aluminum called the Lumi-Lamp. These aluminum carbide lamps, unless unfired or unused, are usually in rough condition because of the tendency to corrode from the effects of the carbide gas, moisture, and the corrosive nature of the mixture and the gas that they produced when the water was added to the carbide to generate the acetylene gas that was then lit to produce the light. The basic idea was right, looking for a material that was strong, light,and would not rust, but I suppose they did not count on the nature of the gas that was going to be created, and obviously the choice of material was not studied enough. Just above is a nickel plated lamp marked T I P that is a bit different as well. That really stands for It's Trouble Proof. Names of some other good carbide lamps are Wolf, Anton, Funk Bros, What Cheer, X-ray, Victor, and many others.Some of these lamps can sell for many hundreds of dollars if in nice condition. Other mining related antiques that we are interested in buying would be dynamite boxes, dynamite blasting boxes, what are referred to as dynamite cap tins, as well as dynamite crimpers, and other blasting / mining related antiques. I am also interested in antique surveying tools that are related to mining such as unusual plumb bobs or plummets, dip needles or compasses, as well as mining transits with auxiliary scopes, inclinometer levels, and other devices used in the construction and layout of mines. The above mining related antiques are examples of the caliber, condition and quality of these types of antiques that we are primarily interested in. To see some examples of past sales in this category please go to our Mining Past Sales Page If you have quality antique mining related antiques and Old West related antiques that you want to sell, please contact us at [email protected] providing me with as many details as possible. Thank you!! To see many other examples of mining or old west related antiques that we currently have for sale, please go to our sister site at www.Patented-Antiques.com and visit the numerous sale pages you will find there. Thank you!! Larry & Carole

Carbide mining lamps were the next source of light to be introduced. It was a means still being used long after electrical lighting was available, but for various reasons was still being developed and used in mining. This source of light was relatively short lived but during their heyday, near the turn of the last century and up until about the 20's there were many different varieties patented and put on the market. Some of these lamps are quite rare today, while others such as those by the three most common makers---Justrite, Auto-Lite, and Guys Dropper---can be found in nearly every antique shop or at every flea market in the country on any given day for $20.00 - $40.00 or so.You can even find modern day Butterfly brand carbide lamps that are made in Hong Kong or China. There are scores of other much less common names available.Pictured on the left is an example of a fairly hard to find carbide that is made of aluminum called the Lumi-Lamp. These aluminum carbide lamps, unless unfired or unused, are usually in rough condition because of the tendency to corrode from the effects of the carbide gas, moisture, and the corrosive nature of the mixture and the gas that they produced when the water was added to the carbide to generate the acetylene gas that was then lit to produce the light. The basic idea was right, looking for a material that was strong, light,and would not rust, but I suppose they did not count on the nature of the gas that was going to be created, and obviously the choice of material was not studied enough. Just above is a nickel plated lamp marked T I P that is a bit different as well. That really stands for It's Trouble Proof. Names of some other good carbide lamps are Wolf, Anton, Funk Bros, What Cheer, X-ray, Victor, and many others.Some of these lamps can sell for many hundreds of dollars if in nice condition. Other mining related antiques that we are interested in buying would be dynamite boxes, dynamite blasting boxes, what are referred to as dynamite cap tins, as well as dynamite crimpers, and other blasting / mining related antiques. I am also interested in antique surveying tools that are related to mining such as unusual plumb bobs or plummets, dip needles or compasses, as well as mining transits with auxiliary scopes, inclinometer levels, and other devices used in the construction and layout of mines.

The above mining related antiques are examples of the caliber, condition and quality of these types of antiques that we are primarily interested in. To see some examples of past sales in this category please go to our Mining Past Sales Page If you have quality antique mining related antiques and Old West related antiques that you want to sell, please contact us at [email protected] providing me with as many details as possible. Thank you!! To see many other examples of mining or old west related antiques that we currently have for sale, please go to our sister site at www.Patented-Antiques.com and visit the numerous sale pages you will find there. Thank you!! Larry & Carole

If you have quality antique mining related antiques and Old West related antiques that you want to sell, please contact us at [email protected] providing me with as many details as possible. Thank you!! To see many other examples of mining or old west related antiques that we currently have for sale, please go to our sister site at www.Patented-Antiques.com and visit the numerous sale pages you will find there.

behind the hype of apple's plan to end mining

behind the hype of apple's plan to end mining

We dont have an exact number because Apple wouldnt provide one, which is going to be a theme of this story. And while some of those elements, like aluminum and lithium, are familiar in both name and function, others, like neodymium and gallium, are as exotic as the food additives at the bottom of a microwave dinners nutritional label. The metallurgical marvel inside your pocket wouldnt exist without the entire ingredient list.

But the existence of devices like the iPhone has come at a price. All of the metals inside onerecognizable or foreign, precious or pedestrianhail from rocks that were mined from the Earth, often, using environmentally-destructive processes and ethically-fraught labor practices. Now, Apple is hoping to change that.

Two years ago, the company announced that it hopes to stop mining the Earth one day. Since then, Apple has embarked on a clandestine, multi-front war against waste, finding new sources of materials in everything from manufacturing scrap to dead devices. And by periodically trumpeting small milestonesa robot that can rip apart 200 iPhones an hour; a MacBook Air with a 100 percent recycled aluminum casethe tech giant reminds the world its progressing toward its goal of a mining-free future.

But the truth is that goal remains a distant one. For a company that sells over 200 million smartphones a year, along with millions more tablets and computers, achieving what sustainability wonks call a circular economy will amount to a complete overhaul of everything from how Apple devices are manufactured to what we do with those devices at the end of their lives. It will require Apple to developor facilitate the development ofgroundbreaking new recycling technologies. Perhaps most crucially, Apple will have to make design and policy choices that encourage consumers to upgrade and repair their old devices rather than discard them for the latest model.

Josh Lepawsky, a geographer at Memorial University of Newfoundland, studies the environmental lives of our electronics. He describes holding a smartphone in your hand as like holding a world in miniature.

Consider just a few of the ingredients in an iPhone and youll start to see why. The aluminum that Apples legendary milling machines carve into sturdy, space gray casings comes from bauxite, a rusty, sedimentary rock crumbled into soils across Earths tropical belt. The cobalt that serves as the cathode inside a smartphones lithium-ion battery is harvested from shales and sandstones in the economically-impoverished yet mineralogically-flush Democratic Republic of Congo. The rare earthselements with tongue-twisting names and odd electron arrangements that cause screens to sparkle and give and strength to the magnets found inside speakershail primarily from Inner Mongolia and southern China. The list goes on and on: tungsten, tantalum, copper, tin, gold, silver, palladium, and more; a veritable United Nations of geological wonders representing nearly every continent on Earth.

Before all those ingredients can be assembled together in one highly-functional, hand-held rectangle, they must be extracted from ores using hands, shovels and hammers, heavy machinery, and explosives. Those ores are then smelted and refined into metals with desirable properties, before being molded, cut, screwed, glued, and soldered into products that get stuffed into packages and shipped worldwide for sale. Every step in this production process requires energy, and in our fossil fuel-powered world, that means dumping climate-warming carbon dioxide into the air. All told, Apple estimates that 77 percent of its carbon footprint comes from manufacturing. Thats not unusual for the industry.

The vast amount of waste from electronics occurs in the manufacturing process, Lepawsky said, noting that its not just carbon emissions that need to be considered, but a slew of toxic byproducts generated during the mining and refining of metals.

Perhaps its unsurprising, then, that Apples push to end mining has begun with a focus on reducing one of its biggest sources of manufacturing wastealuminum. Mining bauxite and smelting it to produce the silvery metal is incredibly energy-intensive, and Apple requires a lot of high-grade aluminum to carve the signature unibody cases its computers use. Problematically, the milling machine process it uses also generates a lot of scrap.

While Apple would not say when exactly it started recycling aluminum in this manner, it had crept into the companys environmental reports by 2016. By 2018, Apple had gotten good enough at saving scraps that it was creating entire product lines out of them. The 2018 MacBook Air and MacMini are the first Apple products to be produced with a 100 percent recycled aluminum case, using an alloy made of shavings of recaptured aluminum that are re-engineered down to the atomic level. This change, along with the use of less aluminum overall, helped cut the carbon footprint of the devices roughly in half, according to Apple.

Their milling-machine approach to manufacturing is incredibly wasteful, so theyd have to recapture the metal or it wouldnt be economical, Kyle Wiens, CEO of the electronics repair company iFixit, said in comments emailed to Earther, adding that aluminum was the lowest hanging fruit on Apples 100 percent recycling pledge.

Wiens pointed out that melting all of those shavings back down into a new aluminum bricks takes energy, too; energy that could perhaps be saved by using a different manufacturing process to begin with. Apple told Earther the energy used to melt and reform aluminum from scrap is about 5 percent of whats required to smelt virgin aluminum in the first place.

Others agreed that aluminum recycling is easy money. Christian Remy, a human-computer interaction researcher at Aarhus University in Denmark, called the metal as close to the perfect recycled material as possible while adding that as long as were dependent on fossil fuel energy, recycling it raises other concerns. Remy said switching to alternative materials could make a much bigger dent in Apples carbon emissions.

Several industry experts said Apple was likely buying recycled aluminum on the market before it started making noise about its scrap-recovery efforts. Alex King, the former and founding director of the Department of Energy-funded Critical Materials Institute (CMI), told Earther that the aluminum produced for sale in the U.S. today is predominately old and new scrap. Its a good bet if you buy aluminum, a large amount [is recycled], he said. Apple wouldnt comment on this claim.

But whether you see it as clever marketing, a genuine push toward sustainability, or a little bit of both, one things clear: sweeping shavings off the factory floors cant support all of Apples material needs. To move closer to a mining-free future, Apple need to start reclaiming its dead.

In a factory in Austin, Texas, a 30-foot-long line of robotic arms pries apart nine different versions of the iPhone. Daisy, the smartphone recycling system Apple announced to the world last April, is arguably the perfect distillation of Silicon Valley-brand environmentalism: a clever engineering answer to a wickedly complex problem. Something thats cool to look at, but whose environmental value is, seemingly by design, difficult to determine. And yet, if Apple is serious about ending mining, this Rube Goldberg-esque jungle of robotic arms and conveyor belts would seem to be a central part of the companys plan.

Few outside of Apple have ever seen a Daisy up closethe company has a second version installed in the Netherlandsbut Apple says these robots can disassemble 200 iPhones every hour. As the phones are ripped part, their components are directed into a series of bins depending on the material Apple hopes to recover.

The idea is that each of those bins represents a stash of orealuminum-rich cases; rare earth magnets; lithium cobalt batteriesthat Apple can find a second life for, either on a short loop where the material goes right back into the companys manufacturing, or on a long loop where it goes to a recycling market anybody can source from.

As an example of short-loop recycling, Apple told Earther that Daisy separates aluminum enclosures from other metals and sorts aluminum by grade, steps that allow an enclosure to go straight back into production. As a proof-of-concept of the long loop, Apple is sending the logic boards of phones collected by Daisy off to recycling partners, who are stripping the tinand in some cases, copper and precious metalsand feeding it back into a general recycling market. Sourcing from that market, Apple now specifies 100 percent recycled tin on the logic boards of several iPhone models and computers.

But this tin represents a small fraction of the material Daisy collects, and theres already an established recycling system for Apple to work within. Aluminum, as already noted, is quite recyclable too. The question of what happens to some of the more unusual ingredients in an iPhone remains open.

Take the rare earths. Today, less than one percent of these metals are recycled, due to the twofold challenge of collecting enough spent electronics to make recycling worthwhileindividual devices contain vanishingly small quantities of themand getting the metals back out.

In theory, a recycling robot that can quickly stockpile large quantities of rare earth-rich parts might be able to overcome first challengeif you know where your rare earth magnets are and retrieve them as Daisy can do, the you might soon find yourself sitting on a small mine. From there, one option is the short-loop: integrating rare-earth rich parts directly into new products. But Apple is constantly iterating its product design, which might require tweaks to the rare earth magnet recipe. In that case, the metals may have to be extracted out and funneled through a longer recycling loop before they can be re-used.

And when it comes to extracting rare earths from technology in a way that makes recycling economical, the fundamental chemistry still needs a lot of work, according to University of Pennsylvania chemist Eric Schelter, whose lab is focused on this very problem.

The science and engineering is not at the place to support Apple at that goal without having a $5,000 iPhone, Schelter told Earther. He was speaking facetiously, but the point is clear: a brand-new iPhone X currently runs between $450-700 with a trade-in.

Thats not to say the science wont get there. Several research consortia are working on the rare earth recycling challenge, including the Critical Materials Institute, which recently won an R&D 100 award for devising a recovery method that doesnt involve the production of hazardous acid waste, something King called a major achievement. (Its also a reminder that recycling can be a dirty business, too.) In its latest environmental report, Apple says its investing in new technologies to recover rare earths, but declined to offer additional details.

Theres also cobalt, a high priority metal for recycling given its critical role in lithium ion batteries, which are set to skyrocket in demand as the electric vehicle and clean energy markets boom. As with rare earths, lithium ion battery recycling is in its infancy, but rare metals experts see this as an area with a lot of potential for growth. New battery recycling efforts have recently cropped up in Australia, the U.S., and China, where one recycler is already producing more cobalt than the country mines in one year, according to a recent report by the World Economic Forum.

If they [Apple] can find a way to recycle batteries in a way thats more cost effective, that doesnt just help Apple, that helps everyone, David Abraham, a senior fellow at New America told Earther, emphasizing that its going to take investments in basic science before an industrial-scale recycling infrastructure emerges.

Jonathan Eckart, project lead at the World Economic Forums Global Battery Alliance which launched in 2017 to address sustainability challenges across the battery industry, flagged the simple act of collecting enough devices as a key challenge holding smartphone battery recycling back. As with rare earths, Apple could potentially overcome this challenge with the likes of Daisyassuming large enough numbers of dead phones are making their way to robotic recyclers for disassembly.

We simply dont know. While Apple told Earther both versions of Daisy are in operation mode and taking apart phones, the company wouldnt say how many phones the robots have processed, or even how many it receives back through consumer trade-in programs like Apple GiveBack.

Whats clear is that the recycling milestones Apple so keenly highlights represent just a bite of its total material consumption, meaning all of this will have to be scaled up enormously in order to end its reliance on mined metals. Popular Science reported last year that Apple will be licensing the Daisy technology to others. When will that happen? Will Apple extend the robotic recycling concept to other types of devices?

On a chilly December afternoon, Lisa Jackson, Apples vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, sat before a packed auditorium of Earth and environmental scientists at the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C. She had just finished giving a keynote address about the companys environmental initiatives, and then-AGU president Eric Davidson was asking her about environmental and human rights issues related to mining as part of a follow-up Q&A.

Jackson touted Apples supply chain auditing program before saying the quiet part loud. One of the frustrations we have is that you can only do so much to try to ascertain the truth if youre working against monetary interests, like corruption or fraud, or political pressure for economic development, she said, before pivoting back to recycling as a way to disrupt the current system.

Jackson is right that it may be impossible for a company of Apples size to stamp out all abuses everywhere in its supply chain. But recycling isnt a perfect solution. Extracting ore from electronics produces dangerous waste products. If done without proper oversight, it can expose workers and their families to a host of toxic substances, according to a recent report on e-waste. That report notes that much of todays e-waste recycling is done in the developing world by informal workers, including children.

Just because somethings being recycled, doesnt necessarily mean its automatically conflict free, Clare Church, a researcher at the International Institute for Sustainable Development, whos working on a scoping paper that addresses potential abuses in the recycling supply chain, told Earther.

Recycling also takes energy, which means more planet-warming carbon emissions, and today its basically impossible to extract all the metals that went into a phone. Its with all of this in mind that advocates for sustainable electronics describe recycling as the end of a long road. Devices should be built to last as long as possible before they get to that point.

Apples environmental team is well aware of this, as Jacksons remarks at AGU made clear. Were also really invested in the idea that our products last a long time, Jackson told Davidson during the Q&A, adding that free upgrades can make your current iPhone feel like the latest model.

Apples predilection for sleek, svelte devices whose parts are soldered and glued into place before being fastened together with proprietary screws has long made basic repairs like swapping out a broken screen or replacing a dead battery a headache. While these design choices are driven in part by consumersour demand for thinner, more water resistant phones has led to phones that are more difficult to take apartApple is also pretty clear on the fact that it doesnt want us messing around beneath the hood of its products, as evidenced by the companys longstanding opposition to right to repair laws, which would allow consumers to take their devices to independent stores for upgrades and fixes.

Those same design choices also make it difficult for anyone lacking a half dozen robotic arms to tear apart an iPhone when it finally reaches its expiration date. As National Center for Electronics Recycling executive director Jason Linnell explained to Earther, most U.S. e-waste recyclers are still primarily receiving CRT TVs and other bulky, pre-smartphone-era devices. Many arent geared toward the precision work needed to deconstruct a phone or tablet, and devices that are difficult to take apart by designand that can potentially explode during the processmight simply not be worth the time and effort.

For Apple, this may be a feature rather than a bug: Documents obtained by Motherboard in 2017 revealed that the company requires its recycling partners to shred iPhones and MacBooks so that their components cannot be reused, further reducing the value recyclers can get out.

When asked for comment on these policies, Apple pointed us toward public websites detailing its repair services and GiveBack program. Asked how the company reconciles its design and policy choices around repair with the need to reduce its overall material consumption in order to end mining, Apple sent us a list of public statements by Jackson emphasizing the companys commitment to long-lasting products.

Apple has thrown a few bones to the repair community of late. Its 2018 MacBook Air includes more modular and repair-friendly components, while the new MacMinis RAM is upgradeable after purchase (with some difficulty), unlike the 2014 version where the RAM was soldered in.

But even small concessions like this can come at a cost to the company, raising the question of how far Apple will be willing to go. As CEO Tim Cook revealed in a letter to investors in January, Apples decision to cut its battery replacement fee from $79 to $29 in 2017an apology for throttling older iPhoneslikely contributed to billions of dollars of lost company revenue in the first quarter of 2019. In other words, when people held onto their old devices for longer, they bought fewer new ones.

And yet thats exactly the sort of thing that needs to be happening more often for a mining-free future to ever materialize. Its difficult to imagine how a company could meet their demands for putting new products on the market without slowing down the total throughput of their products going to market, Lepawsky said.

Of course, Apple is just one piece of a much larger puzzle. No other major electronics company has set a public goal of ending mining, even one as nebulous as Apples. Earther reached out to HP, Dell, Lenovo, Samsung and Huawei for comment on whether they would consider making such a commitment. As of publication, only HP responded, with a link to its 2017 Sustainable Impact Report that describes its recycling initiatives.

Ultimately, whether Apple can, as Jackson puts it, disrupt the current extractive system will depend on whether other major players in the electronics industry follow suit. And that may hinge on the company that fashions itself a thought-leader in personal electronics demonstrating that the price-tag for its latest gambit isnt prohibitively high.

Remy of Aarhus University is cautiously optimistic. He said he absolutely believes it is within Apples power to stop mining if the company is serious about doing so. And didnt see the goals of profitability and sustainability as diametrically opposed.

Heres what Ms Jackson, former US EPA head, can do. Set up a conference call with she, Tim Cook, Apple major shareholders, Glencore, the worlds biggest vertically integrated commodities trading house slash hard r0ck mining concern, and some heirs of the founder of Glencore. Then do a little jawboning about how to make mining and manufacturing not so messy.

seabed mining is coming bringing mineral riches and fears of epic extinctions

seabed mining is coming bringing mineral riches and fears of epic extinctions

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In 1972, a young ecologist named Hjalmar Thiel ventured to a remote part of the Pacific Ocean known as the ClarionClipperton Zone (CCZ). The sea floor there boasts one of the worlds largest untapped collections of rare-earth elements. Some 4,000 metres below the ocean surface, the abyssal ooze of the CCZ holds trillions of polymetallic nodules potato-sized deposits loaded with copper, nickel, manganese and other precious ores.

Thiel was interested in the regions largely unstudied meiofauna the tiny animals that live on and between the nodules. His travel companions prospective miners were more eager to harvest its riches. We had a lot of fights, he says. On another voyage, Thiel visited the Red Sea with would-be miners who were keen to extract potentially valuable ores from the regions metal-rich muds. At one point, he cautioned them that if they went ahead with their plans and dumped their waste sediment at the sea surface, it could suffocate small swimmers such as plankton. They were nearly ready to drown me, Thiel recalls of his companions.

In a later confrontation, Thiel who was at the University of Hamburg in Germany questioned how industry planned to test the environmental impacts of sea-bed mining. He was curtly advised to do his own test. So he did, in 1989.

Thirty years on, the test that Thiel and a colleague devised is still the largest experiment ever on the potential impacts of commercial deep-sea mining. Called DISCOL, the simple trial involved raking the centre of a roughly 11-square-kilometre plot in the Pacific Ocean with an 8-metre-wide implement called a plough harrow. The simulated mining created a plume of disturbed sediment that rained down and buried most of the study area, smothering creatures on the sea floor. The test revealed that the impacts of sea-bed mining reached further than anyone had imagined, but it did not actually extract any rocks from the sea bed, which itself would have destroyed even more marine life.

There have been many attempts to advance DISCOLs basic approach, but none has succeeded, mostly owing to technical and financial difficulties. The most recently planned mining trial, to test a robotic nodule harvester in the CCZ this April, was called off at the last minute because of a technical failure. The trial, planned by the Belgian contractor Global Sea Mineral Resources, would have given scientists a better grasp of the impacts of sea-bed mining by using a 25-tonne tractor to plough the ocean floor.

This was definitely a significant setback, because it was really the only opportunity to try to even start to see the interaction of these big, heavy machines with the marine environment, says Kristina Gjerde, a high-seas policy adviser with the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Such has been the troubled trajectory of deep-sea mining ever since eager industrialists proved, nearly a half century ago, that it was technically feasible to extract rare metals and minerals from the ocean floor. Companies and nations have often promised that they would soon start pulling valuable ores from the depths, but commercial efforts have failed to take off for a variety of reasons notably huge up-front costs, the historically low value of deep-sea ores and the lack of regulations, which have contributed to investors wariness.

The technology is available its the financial and regulatory uncertainty that has held the industry back, says Govinder Singh Chopra, founder of SeaTech in Singapore, a designer of deep-sea mining support vessels.

Now, it seems this nascent industrys time has come. A growing demand for batteries to power electric cars and to store wind and solar energy has driven up the cost of many rare-earth metals and bolstered the business case for sea-bed mining. Whats more, the industrys long-awaited regulations in the form of a mining code are due to be finalized by 2020, putting in place a process whereby contractors can apply for 30-year licences to mine assigned claim areas in parts of the international sea bed such as the CCZ. Already, miners are exploring the potential wealth of these claim areas, but no commercial extraction will begin until the regulations are in place. Investments in this industry are now growing.

Last month, a start-up called DeepGreen in Vancouver, Canada, announced that it is raising US$150 million to begin exploring mineral wealth in part of the Pacific Ocean a sign of growing confidence in the industrys future.

Both scientists and conservationists, however, are worried that the creation of regulations will encourage the industry to start mining long before there is enough information on how operators can avoid causing serious environmental harm. The scarce data that exist suggest that deep-sea mining will have devastating, and potentially irreversible, impacts on marine life.

Deep sea animals collected from abyssal ocean floor in Clarion-Clipperton Zone. Clockwise from top left: Sea cucumber known as the gummy squirrel (Psychropotes longicauda), a sea urchin and two sea cucumbers.Credit: DeepCCZ Project

Since the DISCOL experiment was completed, scientists have returned to the site four times, most recently in 2015. The site has never recovered. In the ploughed areas, which remain as visible today as they were 30 years ago, theres been little return of characteristic animals such as sponges, soft corals and sea anemones. The disturbance is much stronger and lasting much longer than we ever would have thought, says Thiel.

The deep sea usually defined as the realm below 200 metres is a world of extremes. Temperatures near the sea bed in many places hover near 0 C, there is next to no light, and pressures can exceed 1,000 bars, equivalent to having a couple of elephants standing on your big toe. But still life thrives. The deep sea contains a vast array of ecosystems that researchers have barely begun to study.

Miners have focused on three environment types to explore for potential harvesting. Abyssal plains such as the CCZ are littered with metallic nodules that form over millions of years as minerals precipitate around fish teeth, bones or other small objects. These regions are some of the quietest, most remote ecosystems on the planet, where fine sediment rains down at a rate of about one centimetre every 1,000 years. That low-energy environment is home to polychaete worms, crustaceans, sponges, sea cucumbers, starfish, brittlestars, sea urchins and various deep-sea fish, as well as countless microbial species and tiny sediment-dwelling creatures.

Another type of mineral deposit is the metal-rich crust that covers seamounts, which rise thousands of metres above the abyssal plains. These coatings are packed with high-value metals, such as cobalt, platinum and molybdenum. The seamount environment is dominated by corals, sponges and other filter feeders as well as tuna, sharks, dolphins and sea turtles.

Deep sea creatures found near a mid-ocean ridge in the southern Indian Ocean. Clockwise from top left: an anemone, a brittle star, Acanthogorgiidae coral and a pencil urchin.Credit: Nature Picture Library/Alamy

A third form of mineral deposit that is attracting attention is massive sulfides rich in copper, lead, zinc, gold and silver. These ores form around vents of superheated water that occur along the volcanic ridges running through ocean basins. The hydrothermal vents support creatures such as the small, blind yeti crab (Kiwa tyleri) with its characteristic blonde, furry hair, and the scaly-foot snail (Chrysomallon squamiferum), which armours its soft interior with an iron shell and is the first deep-sea animal to be declared endangered because of the threat of mining.

For years, it was assumed that the first deep-sea environment to be mined would be hydrothermal vents in Papua New Guineas territorial waters. Nautilus Minerals in Toronto, Canada, was pursuing that project, but financial difficulties and local opposition derailed the venture, leaving the CCZ as the most likely test bed for deep-sea mining. Estimates suggest that the nodules in that region contain more cobalt, manganese and nickel than the total of all known deposits on land (see Sunken treasure). The CCZ stretches from Hawaii to the Baja California Peninsula, and is as wide as the contiguous United States.

Companies are steadily moving forward with plans to exploit the minerals in the CCZ. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) a 168-member body created by the United Nations to both promote and regulate sea-bed mining has, in the past decade, granted 29 exploration licences for contractors sponsored by national governments to explore mineral wealth at a number of deep-sea locations. Of the licences granted, 16 are for the CCZ, and these cover about 20% of the total area.

Since Thiels first visit to the region in 1972, scientists have explored it in much more detail. Deep-sea biologist Craig Smith at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu has spent 30 years studying the communities in the CCZ, where he has collected sea cucumbers, sea urchins, soft corals, starfish, sea anemones, worms and much more. Roughly 90% of the animal species his group has collected are new to science or undescribed. Among these are rare species not found anywhere else in the deep sea. Smith thinks that, even now, scientists have sampled just 0.01% of the total area of the CCZ.

In one single UK claim area of 55,000 square kilometres, Smith and his colleagues were surprised to collect more than 1,000 animal species, which they estimate is less than half the total number living there. And thats not counting the microbes, of which there are over 100,000 different species, says Smith. We expect that there are thousands of species that are unique to the CCZ, he says. Ive been studying biodiversity there for decades, but we still dont know that much. Some of the species could have small ranges, so if they were to be wiped out, it would be a global extinction.

Although deep-sea mining threatens some of these species, it has also raised awareness of the biodiversity of the sea-floor environment. By law, mining contractors are required to assess what lives in their claim area, and Smith and many other deep-sea biologists conduct ecological surveys to help contractors establish this baseline. And prospective miners can carry out tests to understand how their equipment will impact the environment they are working in.

The aim of such studies is to help miners and the ISA reduce any potential harm from the industry and to develop environmental management plans. But many researchers say that the system has not worked well in practice, in part because the requirements for baseline data are weak.

The data have been confidential, but are becoming publicly available this month. Its going to be quite telling because well have an insight for the first time into the quality and quantity of contractor data. My guess is that many contractors are not putting together what we would regard as a thorough baseline assessment, says Daniel Jones, a deep-sea ecologist at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, UK.

Another concern among researchers is that there are no requirements to test the environmental impacts of the giant mining machines before commercial extraction begins. Since 1970, only 12 small-scale tests have been done on nodule mining, most using a narrow, roughly 2.5-metre-wide instrument to disturb the sea floor. Of these, DISCOL is regarded as the most advanced, mostly because of the wider plough, the large area covered and the long time series of data. All of these studies have flaws, and DISCOL, too, is imperfect, but its the best we have, says Jones.

Many scientists and conservationists say that the root of some of the problems is that the ISA has dual responsibilities. When it was established by the UN in 1994, the ISA was given two mandates: to protect the international sea bed from serious harm, and to develop its resources, ensuring that their exploitation benefits humankind. (In national waters, countries can develop their own rules around sea-bed mining, but they must be at least at strict as the rules that will be adopted next year by the ISA). The ISA is both poacher and gamekeeper, says Hannah Lily, a maritime lawyer with the Pew Charitable Trusts in London, who is not speaking on behalf of Pew.

The ISA has responded to some of these concerns. It says that an extremely important aspect of ISAs mandate is ensuring appropriate environmental assessments and safeguards in the activities that it regulates, for instance.

It also says that its decisions are made by consensus among the 168 countries that make up its membership, all countries having one vote. So far, the membership has approved only exploration activities.

The Belgian contractor Global Sea Mineral Resources has defended how mining contractors and the ISA are moving forward. It says that the ISA has been proactive in establishing an environmental management plan that includes setting aside nine areas of particular environmental interest. The intention is keep these areas about 30% of the CCZ free of mining to protect biodiversity.

Mining in the CCZ, if it does happen, is still almost a decade away, with Global Sea Mineral Resources aiming to open a commercial deep-sea mine by 2027. When it does kick off, the scene at the ocean bottom will look something like this: robotic machines as large as combine harvesters will crawl along, picking up metallic nodules and sucking up the top 10 centimetres or so of soft sediment with them. Because the nodules grow so slowly, mining them will effectively remove them from the sea floor permanently, say scientists.

The nodules are an irreplaceable habitat for many of the creatures that live in the CCZ. For most of the animals in the direct vicinity, mining will be lethal. It will wipe out most of the large animals and everything thats attached to the nodules. Thats a given, I would say, says Henko de Stigter, an ocean-systems scientist at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research in Texel, whose assessment is shared by many researchers.

But the impacts of mining in the CCZ would be much broader than just killing the ecosystem around the nodules. As the collectors moved across the sea floor, they would stir up large clouds of soft sediment that would disperse, possibly for tens of thousands of kilometres, before eventually resettling. At high densities, sediment plumes can bury and smother the animals on the sea floor. Just how far the sediment will disperse remains unknown. Were only starting to see how far the plume reaches and were still very far from knowing what the effect will be, says de Stigter. Next month, he will test the impacts of a prototype nodule harvester in shallow Mediterranean waters.

Scientists are also carrying out laboratory and computer simulations to assess the impact of the disturbed sediment. One computer-modelling study, published in January (B. Gillard et al. Elem. Sci. Anth. 7, 5; 2019), found that the sediment could take up to ten times longer to resettle than is currently assumed, meaning it will probably travel farther in the water column. And some researchers say that even trace amounts of sediment stirred up by the mining operations could smother sea-floor life far away.

In the CCZ, once the nodules have been collected by a harvester, theyll be shunted up a kilometres-long tube to a large surface support vessel, which will sort out millions of nodules a day and return the waste sediment to the sea, creating yet another plume. Right now, theres little clarity on where the waste will be released, in part because returning sediments to the sea bed is costly and technically challenging. One suggestion is to reinject the plume at a depth of 1,000 metres, still thousands of metres above the sea bed. Scientists worry that this practice could harm or kill life at mid-water depths, just as Thiel feared 30 years ago.

Without more information about these deep-sea environments, researchers dont even know how to define the risks. What is serious harm? There are some clear red lines, but theres no definitive answer to that question yet, says Gordon Paterson, one of three ecologists who sit on the ISAs Legal and Technical Commission (LTC), which is, in part, a scientific advisory body. We understand that global extinction is serious harm and we know that interference in carbon sequestration is serious harm. Scientists know that mining will cause local extinction of species in the CCZ, but are we talking about the extinction of species across the CCZ or just in the mined area? It is complicated, he says.

Amid this dearth of data, the ISA is pushing to finish its regulations next year. Its council met this month in Kingston, Jamaica, to work through a draft of the mining code, which covers all aspects environmental, administrative and financial of how the industry will operate. The ISA says that it is listening to scientists and incorporating their advice as it develops the regulations. This is the most preparation that weve ever done for any industrial activity, says Michael Lodge, the ISAs secretary-general, who sees the mining code as giving general guidance, with room to develop more progressive standards over time.

And many scientists agree. This is much better than we have acted in the past on oil and gas production, deforestation or disposal of nuclear waste, says Matthias Haeckel, a biogeochemist at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany.

The ISA has been criticized by some researchers for seeking expert advice only from the three LTC ecologists. But Cindy Van Dover, a deep-sea biologist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, says that the ISA receives a lot of free help from scientists such as herself. Theres a lot of behind-the-scenes science thats being fed into ISA, she says.

Another charge levelled at the ISA is that it is not transparent about how it makes decisions; the meetings of the organizations legal and technical commission, for example, are closed, and the summary reports lack detail, say Gjerde and Jones. In particular, many are upset that scientists arent consulted more in the granting of exploration licences. Last year, for example, Poland was awarded the right to explore 10,000 square kilometres of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge for mining. The claim area is adjacent to the Lost City, a unique hydrothermal field that has been earmarked by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for World Heritage Site status. Both scientists and conservationists have objected to this decision. Among the critics is Gretchen Frh-Green, a biologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, who was part of the team that discovered the Lost City in 2000.

Its also clear that many would like the industry to find a better way of judging the harm deep-sea mining might cause before commercial extraction begins. As the inventor of DISCOL, I would say we need a better experiment, says Thiel. But contractors say it would be prohibitively expensive to carry out a full-scale mining trial.

The ISA sees an advantage in moving forward. Once you have mining, you have monitoring, then you can develop standards and you can progressively tighten those standards once you have a feedback loop from monitoring your activity, says Lodge.

Not everyone is convinced that this wait-and-see approach will work. If industry proceeds so far, if they invest money, they will want a certain security that they can do the mining. So monitoring the mining test will not change much, says Thiel. Jones agrees. The regulations are quite hard to amend once they are put in place, he says. It would require the agreement of many nations that only meet infrequently.

For the moment, the ISA has the tough job of getting its 168 member nations to even agree on the draft code, which conservationists and scientists hope will mandate industry to behave responsibly. After that, it will take several years for mining companies to raise money for their ventures and to build and test equipment. Given those constraints, theres still an opportunity for scientists to improve how they gauge the risks of harvesting minerals from the sea floor. You cant just stick your head in the sand, says Van Dover, and hope it will all go away.

mining equipment for sale - jxsc mining

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JXSC Mine Machinery Factory (aka. JXSC Mining) provides a variety of mining equipment and mineral processing equipmentfor sale. Our equipment not only applied in large mining plants but also suitable for small scale metallurgy operations operated by small miners. whether you are making big business in the mineral industry or a small one, even you are just a hobbyist miner or mining fanatics, JXSC Mining can provide the best suitable mining machine for you.

The development of mineral processing equipment and mineral processing technology is synchronized, the mining process is dominant, and the equipment is the foundation. The birth of a new type of mineral processing equipment often leads to changes in the beneficiation process. The technical level of the equipment is not only the premise of the process level but also directly affects the smooth flow and application of the production process. The advancement of science and technology, the mutual penetration of various scientific categories and the integration of various industries, new structures, new materials, new technologies and new processing technologies emerge one after another. The extensive application of mechatronics and automatic control technology has effectively promoted beneficiation. Continuous innovation of equipment and development towards energy efficiency.

Mineral processing equipment includes: ball mill, crusher, pulverizer, jaw crusher, impact crusher, cone crusher, ultra-fine crusher, magnetic separator, dry magnetic separator, wet magnetic separator, double force ring height Gradient magnetic separator, magnetite ore dressing equipment, flotation machine, mining flotation machine, classifier, spiral classifier, sorghum spiral classifier, dryer, rotary kiln, shaker, hoist, high frequency Sieve, finished sieve, high-efficiency concentrator, spiral chute, disc granulator, trough feeder, energy-saving ball mill.

Mining Equipment Manufacturers, Our Main Products: Gold Trommel, Gold Wash Plant, Dense Media Separation System, CIP, CIL, Ball Mill, Trommel Scrubber, Shaker Table, Jig Concentrator, Spiral Separator, Slurry Pump, Trommel Screen.

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