AZGS Web Posts

Mineral recovery from geothermal fluids

Arizona Geology Blog - Tue, 2015-05-12 20:14

The US Dept. of Energy is seeking input on technological approaches to recovering minerals from geothermal fluids.  The Request for Information: Geothermal Approaches to Validate Mineral Recovery is posted below:

Geothermal fluids may be a key pathway for providing access to strategic minerals and rare earth elements, many of which are imported to accommodate a growing U.S. demand for these commodities for a range of applications. In fact, the USGS reports that the United States relies on other countries for more than half of the domestic consumption of 43 minerals and is fully 100% import-reliant for 19 of these. To explore the potential for a secure and affordable domestic supply, the Energy Department has announced a Request for Information (RFI)to bridge the gap between Research and Development (R&D) and commercial adoption of geothermal "mining" technologies. This RFI seeks input on developing pilot-scale extraction technologies at geothermal mineral recovery and power production sites in three specific areas.

The first category will explore opportunities to conduct extensive engineering validation testing of technologies and processes that can efficiently and cost-effectively capture, concentrate, and/or purify high-value materials contained in geothermal fluids. This effort will focus on broadening the assessment of potential approaches that could be adapted from extractive industries in oil and gas, mining, and processes that utilize chemicals or resins to remove, purify, or process a material. Food processing, waste processing, and chemical preparations are examples of industries that could have applicable technologies transferrable to geothermal mineral extraction.

The second category will study approaches that leverage existing methods and those being considered for commercial applications in the geothermal and mining industries. These could include combined drilling technologies, rock stimulation technologies such as those used in enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), and mineral extraction technologies as currently applied in solution mining.

A third area of study will broaden understanding about the existence and concentration of the high-value materials in U.S. geothermal fluids or low-temperature process streams from other operations, such as oil and gas production. Information sought in this category could be site-specific or assess domestic mineral resources in geothermal and other produced fluids on a national scale.

To see the full RFI, click here. This RFI is NOT a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA); therefore, EERE is not accepting applications at this time. Responses to the RFI are due by June 8, 2015.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Copper price rebound aids Arizona companies, mines

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-05-09 18:53
After copper dropped to its lowest price in five years at the end of 2014, it's not only less volatile, but even rising.   Copper inventories do not look to be excessive which bodes well for copper producers.  [Photo credit, Freeport McMoRan]

Prices of copper miners have also rebounded.  Phoenix-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, the world's largest primary copper company, is off recent lows, up $5 to $23 per share.
However, the loss of earnings while copper prices were down, particularly hurt high cost producers and has them taking precautionary measures.
   For example, Capstone which runs the Pinto Valley mine, is concerned enough to acquire price protection.  While protecting the downside, it also comes with a cap of $3.10 /lb, limiting future earnings if prices improve further.  Capstone is also pushing hard to lower costs.   The company's report on operations ending March 31, 2015,  says the mine produced 15,809 tonnes of copper in concentrates and cathode at a C1 cash cost1 of $1.93 per pound of payable copper produced.  Capstone says it completed "a reorganization to improve operational efficiency and accountability. As part of the redesign, approximately 40 salaried staff left the organization and a further 30 people changed roles, resulting in a reduction to the salaried workforce of 15% and restructuring costs of $2.2 million recognized in the quarter."

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Field trip guide to Oak Creek - Mormon Lake graben now online

Arizona Geology Blog - Sat, 2015-05-09 18:30
The geologic field trip guide for the "Oak Creek-Mormon Lake Graben, North-Central Arizona by Paul Lindberg, 12 p. (May 2015)" is now posted online by the Arizona Geological Society

According to the announcement, this geologic field trip guide circumnavigates a loop of ~120 miles from Flagstaff to Sedona along Highway 89A and returns to Flagstaff along the Lake Mary Road.  [Right, Oak Creek-Mormon Lake graben.  The field trip starts in Flagstaff (black dot) and proceeds counter-clockwise around the graben perimeter.  Field trip stops are circled numbers]

"The 12 geologic stops focus on recent faulting and the encroachment of Basin and Range extensional structures on the Colorado Plateau. Each stop is detailed in the text, which is amply illustrated with photographs and colored geologic sketches.

The guide is made available to the public courtesy of Paul Lindberg and the Arizona Geological Society."

AGS acknowledged Paul Lindberg for a marvelous trip and field guide. Kevin Horstman prepared the digital copy for distribution and Cori Hoag placed it at the Arizona Geological Society online repository.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Minerals on eBay not from museum collection

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-05-07 18:46

A pallet of minerals for sale on eBay last fall was listed by the seller "This wonderful collection of minerals is the display from the Arizona Mineral Museum from Curator Lee Hammon," who it turns out was a curator at the Arizona Mining and Mineral Museum in the 1970s.

We were contacted by state investigators and connected them with museum officials around the state. No one knew anything about it at the time.  State Senator Don Shooter then called for an investigation by the Attorney General.   The AG found that the minerals were in fact just from the Hammon family personal collection and nothing was missing from any museum collections.   The Arizona Republic story describes the case in more detail.  The 1,400 pounds of specimens were reported sold to a couple in Michigan.

A list and photos of specimens are still posted online. One set of items in the batch is shown in the above photo.

Update 5-31-15: I found the photo of the collection as it was originally posted on eBay, before being removed after it was sold. [bottom]
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Sail on, sweet ship - flooding on Oak Creek

Arizona Geology Blog - Thu, 2015-05-07 11:25
The USGS posted a short video on YouTube showing flooding on Oak Creek on March 2, 2015.    
Note the trash dumpster floating by.

Categories: AZGS Web Posts

New data model released for mineral brines

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-05-06 20:09
AZGS has officially released a new National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) interchange format (or Content Model) for “Mineral Recovery Brines” for a total of 36 data models relevant to geothermal energy exploration and development -
The US Dept. of Energy's Geothermal Technologies Office requires funded projects to similarly structure their data and upload it to the DOE Geothermal Data Repository node on the NGDS.
This latest content model includes an “Experimental Data” tab relevant to the mineral recovery data that DOE-funded projects are currently collecting as part of their strategic materials initiative.
This model includes fields describing our funds recipients recovery media, media formulation, elements evaluated, brine temperature, pH, removal efficiency, selectivity, chemical/thermal stability, etc.

AZGS managed the largest of the projects to build, populate, and deploy the data network.  We spun off a non-profit company last year, USGIN Foundation, Inc, to commercialize the technology and make the system financially sustainable.
Categories: AZGS Web Posts

Now, about those bodies in the Colorado River...

Arizona Geology Blog - Wed, 2015-05-06 19:55
The report of human remains in the Colorado River in La Paz County brought out the sheriff's and fire departments.  Divers went down and found two fake skeletons propped up in lawn chairs on the river bottom, according to a story in the Parker Pioneer newspaper.  The divers grabbed video footage and have now posted it on YouTube.   There's an algae covered sign on one of them that the diver partly uncovers but only part of it is readable.   It looks like the setup was placed in the river sometime in 2014. 

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