Portugal: Energia e Recursos Minerais – A situação mundial

 

Pressão demográfica

Figura 1 – A pressão demográfica: população mundial – dados: United Nations – World Population Prospects 2017, https://esa.un.org/unpd/wpp/Download/Standard/Population/.

Temperatura média mundial

Figura 2 – Evolução da temperatura média mundial: mudança na temperatura superficial média global em relação às temperaturas médias de 1951-1980 – fonte: NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), climate.nasa.gov.

PIB per capita mundial

Figura  3 – Evolução do PIB per capita mundial (1992-2016) – World Bank Indicators 2017.

As próximas décadas deste século serão palco de desafios vitais para o futuro da Humanidade e do planeta. A situação atual já é crítica; os níveis de poluição da atmosfera, com o crescimento da concentração de COe metano, associados a alterações climáticas de amplitude ainda desconhecida, a poluição do mar e da cadeia alimentar por plástico, a pressão sobre os ecossistemas, os recursos de água, alimentos e de outras matérias-primas essenciais para vida humana como a entendemos no século XXI atingiram patamares insustentáveis.

A situação vai piorar antes de eventualmente melhorar: o crescimento demográfico (e o envelhecimento da população) vão crescer até ao final do século; as emissões de gases com efeito de estufa não estão controladas e as tecnologias, regulamentação e recursos económicos necessários para as controlar não estão disponíveis ou encontram-se ainda numa fase embrionária; o crescimento do rendimento médio da população mundial irá continuar, gerando uma  acrescida procura de recursos  – cada vez mais difíceis de encontrar, mais resíduos e a poluição dos sistemas vitais do planeta; a competição internacional por recursos naturais e financeiros criará novos conflitos, agudizará os latentes e tornará mais violentos os já existentes.

A resposta da comunidade internacional tem sido tímida. Há, todavia, algumas luzes de esperança. As fontes de energia diversificaram-se, com a revolução introduzida pelas fontes não convencionais de gás e petróleo e com o rápido crescimento das energias eólica e fotovoltaica, e a electrificação da energia aumentou. Foram criadas novas tecnologias – muitas ainda nascentes, mas algumas já de viabilidade comprovada. A pressão social começa a exercer influência nos decisores políticos.

The global energy scene is in a state of flux. Large-scale shifts include: the rapid deployment and steep declines in the costs of major renewable energy technologies; the growing importance of electricity in energy use across the globe; profound changes in China’s economy and energy policy, moving consumption away from coal; and the continued surge in shale gas and tight oil production in the United States. …
Despite their recent flattening, global energy-related CO2emissions increase slightly to 2040 in the New Policies Scenario. This outcome is far from enough to avoid severe impacts of climate change, but there are a few positive signs.
(IEA, 2017)
Emissões de CO2 per capita

Figura 4 – Emissões de CO2 per capita (toneladas) (1992 a 2014) – World Bank Indicators 2017 e DGEG, Indicadores Energéticos no Observatório da Energia.

Consumo anual percapita de energia

Figura 5 – Consumo anual per capita de energia (eq. kg de petróleo) – World Bank Indicators 2017.

Os Estados Unidos e a União Europeia são as economias ocidentais mais poderosas, as suas populações gozam níveis de riqueza, rendimento e consumo sem paralelo no mundo. Estas economias concebem e fabricam (mesmo se, em muitos casos, em países terceiros) produtos e serviços tecnologicamente avançados na maior parte dos sectores económicos.

Os níveis de consumos e as tecnologias sofisticadas exigem acesso a uma grande diversidade e quantidade crescente de recursos minerais (maiores que em qualquer outro momento da História). À procura por produtos e serviços das economias americana e europeias acresce a procura dinâmica das economias chinesa e indiana (e outras asiáticas).

Simultaneamente, os jazigos minerais são menos acessíveis, quer em resultado quer das crescentes guerras de poder económico, comercial e político (com a China afirmada como novo coprotagonista mundial), quer por serem mais profundos, de menor teor e maior complexidade, em zonas mais remotas e com regulamentação mineira e ambiental mais restritiva e com utilizações do território alternativas.

Raw materials are essential for the production of a broad range of goods and applications used in everyday life. They are intrinsically linked to all industries across all supply chain stages. They are crucialfor a strong European industrial base, an essential building block of the EU’s growth and competitiveness. The accelerating technological innovation cycles and the rapid growth of emerging economies have led to a steadily increasing demandfor these highly sought after metals and minerals. The future global resource use could double between 2010 and 2030.
CRMs are particularly important for high tech products and emerging innovations – technological progress and quality of life are reliant on access to a growing number of raw materials… CRMs are irreplaceablein solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles, and energy efficient lighting and are therefore also very relevant for fighting climate change and for improving the environment. For example, the production of low-carbon technologies – necessary for the EU to meet its climate and energy objectives– is expected to increase the demand for certain raw materials by a factor of 20 by 2030.
 (EUROPEAN COMMISSION, 2018)
From the Stone Age to the present, mineral commodities have been essential ingredients for building and advancing civilization. Products built with materials derived from mineral resources include homes and office buildings; cars and roads; computers, televisions, and smart phones; and jet fighters and other military hardware needed to defend the Nation. In short, minerals are essential to advance and protect modern society.
When the periodic table of elements was first established in the latter half of the 19th century, many of the elements were known to exist in nature, but relatively few were being used by society. Today, discovery of new uses for an increasing number of elements is enabling rapid innovations in technology and materials science. Advances in telecommunications, information technology, health care, energy production, and national defense systems have all been possible through the use of new mineral materials.
As the importance and dependence of specific mineral commodities increase, so does concern about their supply. The United States is currently 100 percent reliant on foreign sources for 20 mineral commodities and imports the majority of its supply of more than 50 mineral commodities. Mineral commodities that have important uses and face potential supply disruption are critical to American economic and national security.
(U.S. Geological Survey, 2017)

Em consequência daquelas forças poderosas, estão a ocorrer mudanças profundas e os mercados da energia e dos recursos minerais tornaram-se mais imprevisíveis e voláteis. A percepção pelos governos americano e japonês e pela Comissão Europeia da insegurança no acesso (e nos preços) de algumas matérias-primas minerais levou-os a estabelecer um diálogo tripartido e a definir listas de minerais críticos do ponto de vista das respectivas economia e segurança nacional.

As listas definidas pelos Estados Unidos e pela União Europeia são, em grande medida, semelhantes, reflectindo uma preocupação comum por dificuldades de acesso a matérias-primas que, considerando necessárias têm produção concentrada em países terceiros considerados instáveis ou concorrentes (sendo mal disfarçado o receio face ao controlo efectivo que a China exerce sobre algumas daquelas matérias-primas).

A lista europeia contém 27 matérias-primas, a americana 23; em comum, aquelas listas têm em comum 15 materiais: AntimónioBariteBerílioCobaltoFluoriteGálioGermânioGrafiteHáfnioREE (terras raras); ÍndioNióbioPGE (platina e platinóides); TântaloVanádio. O lítio, curiosamente, presente na lista americana, está ausente das preocupações europeias – apesar da mobilidade eléctrica estar no centro da política energética da União Europeia.

É exigida acção global aos Governos e às instituições internacionais. Não existe, contudo, acção sem reação, como demonstra a mudança nas políticas da Administração dos Estados Unidos na sequência da eleição de Donald Trump. O mundo encontra-se numa encruzilhada.

E Portugal?

 

O mundo e Portugal enfrentam desafios que colocam o desenvolvimento das sociedades humanas e a sobrevivência dos sistemas naturais que nos sustentam em risco crítico.

Esta é a primeira parte (seguir-se-ão outros textos e informação complementar durante as próximas semanas) duma reflexão sobre a situação da energia e recursos minerais em Portugal: Qual a situação actual? Que desafios enfrentamos? Que políticas devemos prosseguir na exploração dos recursos minerais em Portugal?

Luís Chambel 

 

 

Don’t know if it will rain tomorrow, but

the World Gold Council just published a report discussing the next three decades for gold – Gold 2048. Based on the opinions of several industry experts, the document discusses where key trends may lead the precious commodity and the industry:

  • The expanding middle class in China and India, combined with broader economic growth, will have a significant impact on gold demand.
  • Use of gold across energy, healthcare and technology is changing rapidly. Gold’s position as a material of choice is expected to continue and evolve over the coming decades.
  • Mobile apps for gold investment, which allow individuals to buy, sell, invest and gift gold will develop rapidly in India and China.
  • Environmental, social and governance issues will play an increasing role in re-shaping mining production methods.
  • The gold mining industry will have to grapple with the challenge of producing similar levels of gold over the next 30 years to match the volume it has historically delivered.

The best way to avoid getting wet in tomorrow’s economy is to listen to the weatherman, reading experts’ opinions to form your own. The report is available at the World Gold Council’s website.

2017 diamond flows and what lies ahead

IDEX just reported on the 2017 Diamond Pipeline in the latest number of their online magazine. The 2017 update of IDEX’s conceptual map is an insert of a wider analysis of the current state of the diamond industry. It’s always worthwhile to read informed analysis; don’t miss it at http://www.idexonline.com/Magazine.html.

IDEX’s Magazine view is somber, considering 2017 as the calm before the storm. “The industry is heading into a period where the next few years will see some of the fundamental operating principles of the industry undergo changes“. The main industry drivers, in their opinion are the

  • industry financing,
  • tightening diamond supplies (apparently good news for me, as my company is active in the exploration and evaluation of diamond deposits especially in Angola),
  • lab-grown diamonds (synthetics) – our favorite villain since I remember,
  • compliance and the
  • data tsunami (with the potential to reshape the industry) – see our post of a few weeks ago on gold, gold, gold, crypto coins, blockchain and diamonds.

I am an optimist: changes are just a fact of life. There will be those that won’t adapt, others will. To be one of the laters, keep checking your markets’ pulse, keep changing.

Quase a acabar, até 6 de maio, exposição sobre ouro antigo no Museu Nacional de Arqueologia

8a374988-d355-4aab-ab67-d71fd8fb5fdc

Até 6 de maio
Ouro antigo. Do Mar Negro ao Oceano Atlântico

A Roménia e Portugal possuem importantes acervos museológicos de ourivesaria antiga. Traçando um arco sobre a Europa, os metais preciosos da Roménia e de Portugal estabelecem uma ponte entre particularidades regionais e históricas e elementos comuns da evolução da ourivesaria.

O MNA apresenta uma proposta de diálogo arqueológico e artístico entre tesouros milenares dos dois países, fruto de uma organização conjunta da Embaixada da Roménia em Portugal, da Direção-Geral do Património Cultural, do Museu Nacional de História da Roménia, do Museu Nacional de Arqueologia e do Instituto Cultural Romeno em Lisboa, no ano em que se celebram cem anos de relações diplomáticas bilaterais.

in MNA Digital Boletim Maio 2018

Apresentação do Livro “Carvão de Aço” de Adriano Miranda, 7 maio 2018

7 de maio de 2018 – 12.30 – Biblioteca da FEUP

“… Os mineiros do Pejão ensinaram-me os valores da dignidade e da luta. Os valores do Trabalho. Foi assim que me fiz. Com eles …”
“…Tenho muito pouco orgulho nos trabalhos que faço, mas neste, sim, tenho muito orgulho … Uma homenagem àqueles Homens …”
Adriano Miranda

O Departamento de Engenharia de Minas e a Biblioteca da FEUP promovem no próximo dia 7 de maio (12.30) uma apresentação do Livro “Carvão de Aço” do fotojornalista Adriano Miranda.

Em 1992, Adriano Miranda era estudante no Curso de Fotografia na AR.CO em Lisboa. Entre muitos projetos académicos, Adriano entregou-se de alma e coração a recolher imagens nas Minas do Pejão em Castelo de Paiva, projeto que se prolongou até 1994,  ano do encerramento do complexo mineiro.

Passados 25 anos e de uma forma surpreendente, os milhares de negativos a preto e branco voltaram a ver a luz do dia dando origem ao Livro “Carvão de Aço”, um memorial aos homens e mulheres que trabalharam nas Minas de Carvão do Pejão.

Esta apresentação pretende ser mais uma oportunidade para dar voz à Comunidade Mineira do Pejão e perpetuar a memória de uma atividade que envolveu tantos mineiros e por muito tempo ao serviço da sociedade.

Se prevê estar presente e meramente para fins logísticos, o Departamento de Engenharia de Minas da FEUP solicita que se inscreva através do seguinte endereço:
https://paginas.fe.up.pt/~formularios/deminas/

gold, gold, gold, crypto coins, blockchain and diamonds

What happened, what may happen

For those interested in the yellow metal, the World Gold Council recently released two documents on the 2017 gold market events and on the outlook for 2018. We all now how forecasts work (I have just read and quote “if you have to forecast, forecast a lot“). Even so, the more you read and know, the better (provided you have a critical knowledgeable mind). The documents are available for download at WGC’s website or from here:

In another issue, a World Gold Council report states that:

  • Cryptocurrencies are no substitute for gold. In a summary of their report, WGC says”Bitcoin’s parabolic price rise was the big story of 2017 – putting the spotlight on the cryptocurrency market. While gold’s performance was a solid 13%, it was a fraction of the 13-fold increase of bitcoin by the end of the year.
    Some commentators went as far as to claim cryptocurrencies could replace gold. Cryptocurrencies may become an established part of the financial system. But, in our view, gold is very different from cryptocurrencies, as gold:

    • is less volatile
    • has a more liquid market
    • trades in an established regulatory framework
    • has a well understood role in an investment portfolio
    • has little overlap with cryptocurrencies on many sources of demand and supply. 

    These characteristics underpin gold’s role as a mainstream financial asset that will likely continue to resonate in today’s digital world.

Diamonds as an investment is no longer news; it’s been around since the oil crises of the seventies. There has been some evolution recently, related to the blockchain technology and crypto coins:

  • De Beers, has announced that “it is progressing development of the first blockchain technology initiative to span the diamond value chain and provide a single, tamper-proof and permanent digital record for every diamond registered on the platform.” Read more here, at IDEX.
  • The Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) unveiled a new diamond-backed digital coin at IDWI (international Diamond Week in Israel). “The Israel Diamond Exchange and startup CARATS.IO have unveiled a new diamond-based crypto currency called CDC (Carats.io Diamond Currency), which they created together. The new coin was unveiled yesterday (Monday) at the International Diamond Week in Israel (IDWI – February 5 – 7, 2018). The trade in the crypto currency will be based on a new index, presented yesterday for the first time, which will reflect the daily trends in the diamond trade at the IDE. The index will be updated daily on big LED screens, which will be set at the Trading Hall. The index will reflect diamond prices set according to 14 parameters for comparing diamond prices”. To know more, just read here, at IDE’s website.
    According to Founder and CEO Avishai Shoushan, CARATS.IO’s extensive ecosystem of products will elevate the entire diamond industry. CARATS.IO is creating two separate cryptocurrencies, each backed by diamonds purchased on the Israel Diamond Exchange. One coin, called CUT (Carat Utility Token), will be used specifically in B2B transactions between eligible diamond traders. This currency will enable safe peer-to-peer transactions, altogether eliminating the need for financial intermediaries. The second currency, called CARAT, is meant for the wider market of financial institutions and digital currency investors. Both currencies will be backed by diamonds, with a market cap coverage of 25 percent, significantly reducing their speculative level of investment.“, in previous news.

Lithium recovery from lepidolite

Electric cars and their batteries are on the top of the public agenda; Elon Musk’s high-profile Tesla (his company and his just-launched-into-space car) and the need to decarbonise the world’s economy have turned the public’s eye into the issue of lithium batteries, normally the realm of engineers and mining investors (how many of those in the general public know how batteries work and what are they made of?) .

Portugal is endowed in lithium, present in several minerals in the country’s pegmatite districts. Lepidolite (a pink mica – just follow the link for a nice lepidolite picture in this blog) is one of the lithium-containing minerals, until now mostly used in Portugal in special ceramics. Foreign junior miners have recently fired up a quest for lithium in Portuguese lithium-mineralised pegmatite deposits, contributing to an even higher high-profile in Portuguese media – also check the Portuguese Government’s task force report on lithium.

A team of Portuguese researchers from Instituto Superior Técnico and LNEG has just published an article on the “Optimization of an innovative approach involving mechanical activation and acid digestion for the extraction of lithium from lepidolite.” The team is composed by Nathália Viecel, Carlos A. Nogueira, Manuel F. C. Pereira, Fernando O. Durão, Carlos Guimarães and Fernanda Margarido.

Abstract
The recovery of lithium from hard rock minerals has received increased attention given the high demand for this element. There- fore, this study optimized an innovative process, which does not require a high-temperature calcination step, for lithium extraction from lepidolite. Mechanical activation and acid digestion were suggested as crucial process parameters, and experimental design and response-surface methodology were applied to model and optimize the proposed lithium extraction process. The promoting effect of amorphization and the formation of lithium sulfate hydrate on lithium extraction yield were assessed. Several factor combinations led to extraction yields that exceeded 90%, indicating that the proposed process is an effective approach for lithium recovery.

International Journal of Minerals, Metallurgy and Materials
Volume 25, Number 1, January 2018
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12613-018-1541-7

(Yes, some on the team are old colleagues and friends of mine; nonetheless, congrats on the work done).