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Larry M Southwick

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  1. Larry M Southwick

    What to do with slags?

    °°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°° Hi RaoulDuke, There has been a lot of interest in recovering iron from various sorts of iron residues the last several years with the runup in iron and steel prices, though right now with the economy slow nothing much is moving. Historically, irony residues (as in electric arc furnace dust) containing nickel or chromium have been converted to ferro-nickel and ferro chrome alloys via pyrometallurgical methods. Such alloys are used in stainless steel manufacture. This is quite a lucrative business. Processing of carbon steel EAF dust, while widespread, is not so lucrative. Other wastes containing iron have also been processed both pyrometallurgically and hydrometallurgically to recover iron. However, there is usually a problem when copper is present, as the steel mills do not like copper. However, there can often be found a special user of such materials if one is willing to do a bit of looking and marketing. Duisburger Kupferhutte in Duisburg, Germany specializes in recovering metals from irony wastes. They have made over 300 specialty products to serve specialty industries. They use essentially a iron blast furnace. They are of course located in a highly industrialized area serving many different industries, so raw material needs cover a wide range. If your waste is off in the boonies, then shipping becomes a major determinant of what can be done. A technology holder like Ausmelt in Australia has a wide variety of experience in pyrometallurgical processing of metals. They may also be able to help you. Copper - nickel converters produce a iron slag that in existing plants can be quite thoroughly cleaned of residual copper and nickel. However, if you have a similar slag from an earlier operation, reaching similar recovery levels by similar methods would likely not be economical. The original copper (and/or nickel) in the ore paid the heating bills to melt the material along with the rest of the process operating and capital equipment costs. The above is a pretty general response to your problem. One would have to take a closer look at what you have to be more specific. For example, depending on the variations in the wastes, there may be benefits in processing only part of the waste by higher efficiency methods directed at the particular components. Hope this helps some. Regards, Augurelli
  2. Larry M Southwick


    The Fat Lady Sings A presentation by HIsmelt at a steel conference this week has it that iron production year to date is 340,000 tons (end of October), and that monthly production is about 37,000 tons. At that rate, production for all of 2008 will be less than 420,000 tons, barely over 50% of design. Given these uncertain times, the continued slow progress in meeting production goals, the wear and tear on aging equipment, and the merger/acquisition negotiations between RTZ (HIsmelt's owner) and BHP, I think I hear the Fat Lady warming up. In fact, based on the operating concepts and past problems clarified during this presentation, it looks to me that the technology has so lost its way that maybe "they can't get there from here". My suggestion of Ausmelt and HIsmelt working together does not appear close to being considered either, and given Ausmelt's own problems and over-full plate of new and ongoing projects, would only be possible with considerable injections of cash and manpower. So, maybe the fat lady won't even bother to sing. Maybe she'll just shout ENOUGH!! and be done with it. Augurelli
  3. Larry M Southwick

    The Canadian Oil Sands thread

    Re the THAI process, this appears to me to be what amounts to a "fire flood", which is a form of tertiary oil recovery in a conventinal oil field. Based on what I remember from 40+ years ago beginning work as a summer engineering intern in Humble Oil's (now Exxon) production division, a reservoir is produced via first a well, then a water flood, then a steam flood, then if it appears worth while a fire flood. The terms are more or less self-explanatory. However, when it is all said and done, even after a fire flood net production is still only about 50% of the original oil in the field. This can certainly vary substantially, but comes about from several factors, including oil clinging within the interstices between rock or sand particles, natural barriers in the formation, bypassing and advancing of hot vapors and air around sections of the reservoir because of less resistance, and so on. Once a section opens up, bypassing another section, the vapors will follow the path of least resistance - it is a self-destroying mechanism. You cannot plug or slow down the "fast flow" sections, they eat your lunch and leave behind an unrecoverable partially burnt poorly produced mess. With oil shale, there were insitu tests that yielded only maybe 10% of the oil (that is the oil from kerogen that would have been converted). I don't think one in four of the test blocks did very well. Further, with insitu pump and treat methods for oil spill remediation, there is a lot left behind un-extracted. Note that the steam flood (or "stimulation") tests by Imperial Oil (Cold Lake), Shell Canada (Peace River) and Canadian Natural Resources (Primrose) in western Canada in the 1980's and '90's yielded only about 20-25% of the oil. Now I'm not saying all of these are similar sorts of deposits, and usually oil sands fields appear to be more porous than the others. However, the point is that gases and liquids underground won't do what you want them to do just because that's what you want them to do. The other problem with oil sands is when they are shallow, and the "cap" is thin and perhaps porous, so one is either drawing air in (cooling and condensing the vapors) or the vapors are escaping (hot vapors rise is paths are available) before they reach the extraction well. And, finally, there is the problem of what happens to the oil between extraction sections. If you don't leave some sort of seal, then the vapors and liquids will leak into these regions and probably become "stuck" with maximum perverseness. So while THAI may sound neat and clever, there is nothing I see in the history of in-situ methods that provides much hope of high recoveries. Open pit mining will get it all, so you balance that cost and return with depth of overburden vs. THAI's results. The pictures and diagrams make it look like a real comer. However, if you can't make money with 50% recovery, I'd give up on it. And I doubt they could hit 50% in their field tests three times running. Yeah, I know, the SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage) tests have yielded up to 60% of the bitumen. But I'd like to see the long term results. And 60% is still not 70%. Something else to sober up all you optimists. Back in the late 1970's, Rand Corp did a large study of performance of first of a kind plants. Some were working with liquids, some with solids, some with other systems. Of those on solids (15 of 40 total projects), the average performance was less than 50%. Only two projects had as high as 85%. Costs on all these usually maybe doubled. Processes working on solids just have too much to go wrong that without a thorough understanding of all the variables, you're simply tossing the dice. I've known solids-based processes to consistently do much better than the Rand study examples, but this was because the designers were really good and had thoroughly thought though the problems and worked out solutions. Problems in above ground systems are one thing, problems in below ground systems are "an itch you can't scratch". Augurelli
  4. Larry M Southwick

    The Downside of Kyoto

    The Downside of Kyoto I note here that in August Queensland instituted a 20 year moratorium on the development of oil shale. The reasoning being to save the state from man-made global warming by cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions. I'm thinking the economic cost of such a move is a huge mill stone to carry on a leap of faith aboard a straw horse. Here's why. Carbon Dioxide Mother Nature has installed a huge number of "Carbon Dioxide Sequestering Units" around the Earth. These consume carbon dioxide by the uncounted billions and billions of tons. She calls them "trees". Some little things called leaves and grass are her willing accomplices. They use this nasty old carbon dioxide to make chlorophyll (which I learned about maybe in my third year or so in school), which then makes for green leaves and grass. I don't think Mother Nature would take kindly to man's contrived efforts to curtail the supply of that necessary nutrient from her forests, farms and prairies. She might even consider that a "Brown Movement". Green House Gases It seems to me from maybe a bit later in school I learned that the principal constituent of green house gases is water. Now, one of Queensland's other concerns is the current three year drought. So I would have imagined the inhabitants of that state might have welcomed the "onslaught" of green house gases. That might end their drought. After all, when was the last time anyone observed a drought in a greenhouse? What is the color of your footprint One of the favorite images of the "Greenhouse Gases Are Bad" movement is to characterize generation of carbon dioxide as a black footprint. I think they have that all wrong. To me it seems that anything that makes leaves green and keeps them wet might better be viewed as a Green Footprint. One covered with leaves and bits of grass. Sort of the thing left behind by Tolkien's Hobbits or his Ents (tree monsters) when they walked down the road. Other images Another image from the Green House Movement, championed by their Chief Scientist Al Gore, is that of a rapidly melting Antarctic ice sheath. However, from what I read this is simply not the case, in fact that ice sheath is larger than it has ever been. Not quite large enough yet to bump into Tasmania off of Australia's south shore, but at least one would have thought someone living in Australia and tapped into this movement would be aware of this embarrassing fact. Other embarrassing facts that unravel the "proof" of man-made global warming are erroneous predictions of Greenland's ice cap melting and slipping off (thereby one presumes offending the world's sense of propriety by revealing its derrière). That won't be happening, the models are all wrong. Another myth was that polar bears were dying off. Happily, current reports from Hudson's Bay are that the reverse is happening. Polar Bear population is greater than it has been in 25 years. The Right Stuff One suspects that the science and engineering that came up with all these predictions were not of the "right stuff". Hardly the caliber of stuff that could have led to discovering the DNA double helix, microbes, viruses, deciding phlogiston vs. oxygen, determining that all adepts are inept, atomic physics, Pluto or the cause of and cure of diseases like polio, diabetes, and so on. Nor of the engineering stuff that invented microchips, sent man into space (where we find plans are afoot to create a greenhouse on Mars to allow man to survive there), came up with cell phones, and brought us HDTV's. Note too that a lot of "the stuff" that is used in greenhouse gas predictions is also "the stuff" which weathermen use. I have trouble planning picnics around what the weatherman says. And they want us to shut industry down, diminish fuel supplies, curtail jobs, send manufacturing over to China, raise the cost of living and alter our lifestyles based on the same stuff? Kyoto The enhanced concerns about greenhouse gases arises from Australia's recent signing of the Kyoto Protocol. However one views the ability of man to change such massive components of the Earth's atmosphere, simply put "the evidence" is neither conclusive nor indicative of either way. The predictions, a few of which were mentioned above, have consistently been either abjectly wrong or of such little demonstrable impact as to be specious. But of one thing we can be sure about Kyoto, the evidence is abundantly clear that it economically favors those who do not comply with it - such as China. So our choices are either (a) we can all sign on and all be uniformly poor, ( have some sign and some not sign, in which case wealth flows towards the non-signers, or © let non-political science guide our hand (the one holding the pen), in which case I dare say none will sign on. One of the lessons that the Luddite experience in the early 1800's taught is that wholesale banning of the benefits of science and industry was not the answer. The textile mills that the Luddites arose over (their inefficient, labor intensive jobs were being replaced by high volume machinery) provided more cloth, cheaper cloth, greater variety cloth, and made that cloth available to everyone. The search for new technology (a great buzz-word on everyone's lips today) will always have the same effect - those clinging to the old technology (if non-competitive) will be left behind. Social ills may still require the politician to resolve them or ease the transition (retraining?), but the debate over real technical issues is never well served by delusional science, hype and mindless activism. In short myths, even those embedded into legislation (and protocols), are still fairy tales. Augurelli
  5. Larry M Southwick

    Don't dawdle Amaryllis

    Michael Quinn had an insightful piece Sept. 11, 2008 on how Perilya's deal with CBH "went south", partly because in taking so long to close the deal, the economics of the zinc market stepped into the express down elevator and sent the parade to the finish line "south". To a certain extent, ZincOx appears to have stepped into the same express down elevator. There are of course different factors at work here: a zinc and iron play that was really a technology play, in which the players were slow to identify all the pieces, reject those not ready for prime time and pull the rest together, but also in that they presumed a parade to the finish line. However, dawdling on the deal had similar repercussions. And similar impacts on stock price. For those who feel that maybe given the plummeting zinc price, a dead deal might not be so bad afterall, keep in mind ZincOx is also an "iron play". And iron ore prices have doubled in the last 12 months, and scrap steel ditto. By taking so long and falling into the zinc price down elevatror, they have perhaps missed (and changed the economics for) catching the express up elevator of iron prices. For those others who feel that all this is just the vagaries of the business world, please go back and read other postings on ZincOx. Based on which to the "don't dawdle" line from "The Music Man" might be added the "Have you done your homework" line from an old Bill Cosby skit. Augurelli
  6. Larry M Southwick

    Oil Shale

    Pal, et. al., Anyone who thinks oil shale can be developed under a "global warming" cloud is, in a word, LOONY. And this is true irrespective of al Qaeda's intentions, the real extent of Saudi oil resources, drilling in ANWR, or deposits of anyone or located anywhere else Now if you're willing to be ruled by real science, you might have a go at flogging projects and technologies. In other words, think GREEN, as in chlorophyl, as in keeping the rainforests happy by supplying them with the fertilizer/ingredient they require, carbon dioxide. Which most of you all learned the importance of by age 10 or so. However, if you're a follower of that great chief scientist of the global warming movement, eGore, then you deserve to lose your money. Look at the other technology development he claims to have presided over, the internet, and tell me again why you are still listening to him. Once you've cleared that hurdle, then one thing you will need to decide on for the deposit you might be interested in is in-situ or above ground processing. It is not my purpose with this posting to enter the long discussion, already begun on this thread, of these choices. Suffice to say above ground processing will not succeed until one can step beyond the 8-10,000 BPSD unit size. Until then, the expense of the amount of steel and concrete required to erect such units will pretty much track oil price, and you will never get in front of the curve. And thus you will always be telling your investors that the project will not be a paying proposition "until oil price rises another $20/bbl". There were promising developments of stepping over that boundary among a couple of the projects abandoned back in the early 1980's, and these threads would need to be reopened. Stay tuned, there may be further news on such possibilities come out of the next oil shale conference in Golden, Colorado, to be held in October. Augurelli
  7. Larry M Southwick


    Back in May, 2003, Minesite's Man in Oz had a delightful piece on the above topic. This was the time of Rio Tinto's commitment to build a A$400 million HIsmelt commercial plant, capable of producing 800,000 tpy of pig iron. Oz summarized some of the background - that Rio Tinto had spent 20 years and A$600 million on development of the technology, it had begun within the CRA camp, later merged to form the current Rio Tinto, they had "chewed through" the financial commitments of several German and Japanese steel partners, and had just signed up three new ones (Nucor, Mitsubishi, and Shougang). The overall objective of the HIsmelt work, as Oz states it, was for Rio Tinto to find "a way of 'monetizing' the high-phosphorus iron ore which litters the WA outback". Well, now three years into the program, the best annual net production has been 15% of design (for 2007). While there has been little substantive information published, not a good sign in itself, improvements have been announced of late in hourly production, daily production, weekly production, with projections of nameplate capacity being reached by year end, 2008. One wonders, and prays, as Oz suggested Rio Tinto was doing five years ago as well, whether such slow progress has been worth the $A1000 million spent on the project. Rather, perhaps RT is at the point Oz speculated five years ago as one of two possible outcomes: "Or it doesn't work, and a $A1 billion experiment is quickly forgotten, and blamed on the silly Australians from CRA". May I suggest a better alternative? There is another group of "silly Australians", down in Wyalla in South Australia with what is very much the same technology. They are with Ausmelt. Ausmelt calls their process the "top submerged lance" furnace. In all of their 20 plus years of experience they have only had about A$ 50 million to spend on research. In that time frame, they have commercialized over 20 plants (in the non-ferrous industry), with 20+ more in construction or due for commisioning in the next couple of years. At Wyalla, in the 2000-2002 timeframe, they operated a smallish iron making plant, called AusIron, of 15,000 tpy capacity. It too can deal with high-phosphorus iron ore. This plant has now been converted to process 55,000 tpy irony-zinc wastes (like EAF dust) and should be fully commisioned very soon. It would appear that Ausmelt knows something that HIsmelt does not - how to make iron maybe? Ausmelt certainly learned quickly that a horizontal configuration for the furnace was not the way to go - six months into development vs. 5+ years. They also learned how a lance submerged in the reacting slag bath was a better way to go. HIsmelt appears to have their lance suspended above the bath and with tuyeres penetrating rather low close to the iron bath so that they seem prone to formation of iron "elephant trunks". And Ausmelt has accumulated perhaps close to 1,000,000 hours of collective operating experience. Another strange connection - Rio Tinto actually installed the first Ausmelt unit, in 1992, in Zimbabwe, on Ni and Cu leach residues. So it is not as though the two companies are unknown to each other. Who knows, maybe $A1000 million doesn't need to blow away across the phosphorus iron ore littered landscape of Western Australia after all. And who knows, perhaps bath smelting, via the TSL, will become the best, fastest and most economical way to make iron after all. Especially for low grade ores, fines and wastes. Augurelli
  8. Larry M Southwick

    Annus Horribilis

    Dear Oz, Try Adeptus Ineptus As you may know, an adept is an alchemist who can create a Philosopher's Stone, which the ancients felt could transmute base metals into gold. In 1701 in Berlin one Johann-Freidrich Bottger, a nineteen year old apothecary's apprentice, told King Freidrick I that he could discover how to make - the Stone. KFI financed the venture, but Bottger failed and fled the King's wrath to Poland. There he made King Augustus II a similar proposition, who bit at the bait. But alas, Bottger failed again, and double alas, was caught by Augustus's men before he could flee again. August threw him into prison, but wanting to cover the possibilities, provided him with a laboratory. Wise move, because Bottger, in his thrashings about in the lab, or just to do something different, discovered the secret of making Dresden China. Here he had a practical answer to Europe's quest of a cheaper, but quality, alternative to having to import China's china. Certainly a more practical topic of research. But his failures in alchemy earned him the sobriquet Adeptus Ineptus. Now if that story doesn't cover the territory from investor to promoter to grubstaker to prospector to mine maker, to assayer, to researcher, etc., I don't know what does. Augurelli