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Australia Earth Technology

Massive Rare Earth Deposit Found In Australia 149

Posted by timothy
from the street-value-of-this-continent dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A north Queensland mining company has discovered one of the world's largest deposits of the rare earth, scandium, used in fuel cells."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Massive Rare Earth Deposit Found In Australia

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  • They'll need the extra money to pay off Lars Ulrich
    • by balbord (447248)

      Woosh!
      Lars is American. Metallica Minerals is from Austria!

      • by Sique (173459)

        I'm still wondering how much more whoosh you were presenting in your reply. (Lars Ulrich is from Danemark, not the U.S., and Metallica Minerals is from Australia, not Austria.)

    • Furthermore, it's located near Townsville, so they'll have to deal with the Powerpuff Girls
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:22AM (#37659336) Homepage

    That's nice, but scandium has only a few minor uses. A find of high-quality neodymium or europium ore would be much more interesting.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Of course they didn't find europium, it was in Australia!

      • by deek (22697)

        If media/gaming companies can consider Australia a part of Europe, then dammit, so can some dumb element!

      • Of course they didn't find europium, it was in Australia!

        In honor of Columbus Day: "Australians set off to the North East in ships looking for a new route to Europe. Upon encountering a different continent on the way, they name its inhabitants Europeans.

      • by RMingin (985478)

        Australium! Shines like gold, crafts nice weapons!

    • by sFurbo (1361249)
      The rare earths usually go together, to the degree that separating them is a major hassle in their production. A deposit of one will contain smaller amounts of the others.
    • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:20AM (#37659800) Journal

      And Scandium is not really a rare earth. It's the first transition metal (3d valence orbitals) with atomic number 21. Rare earths don't begin until Lanthanum (4f valence orbitals) with atomic number 57.

      Scandium does have uses, but these have been small in part due to the limited availability of the metal. Is is questionable whether those uses will increase markedly in the near future, just because the supply of Scandium has increased.

      • by khallow (566160) on Monday October 10, 2011 @02:55AM (#37659932)

        And Scandium is not really a rare earth. It's the first transition metal (3d valence orbitals) with atomic number 21. Rare earths don't begin until Lanthanum (4f valence orbitals) with atomic number 57.

        Geology and mining does things a little differently from chemistry. Apparently, Scandium is classified as a "rare earth" because it occurs in deposits with proper rare earths. Similarly, gold is often classified as a "platinum group metal" because it's a common associate of proper platinum group metals.

        Is is questionable whether those uses will increase markedly in the near future, just because the supply of Scandium has increased.

        Why? There are apparently a number of viable aluminum alloys that use scandium. Cheaper scandium makes these more competitive with similar alloys (apparently, titanium containing aluminum alloys).

      • by asdf7890 (1518587)
        Some of the uses for it overlap with those for elements that are both rarer and pretty much controlled by China (they've bean very canny about securing such resources over the last decade or two, and now protect direct exports). If the main thing stopping the use of those alternatives is the cost of acquiring the raw material then this find is likely to make them more attractive by increasing availability and reducing that cost. The change won't be fast though, and many uses of rare earth materials are ofte
    • A find of high-quality neodymium or europium ore would be much more interesting.

      We'd love to get hold of more Europium, but:

      [ ] Afghanistan cornered the market
      [ ] They can only get Oceanium down under.
      [ ] All of Jupiter's moons are ours, except the one with the rare earth element. Figures.

      Please delete as appropriate.

    • A find of high-quality neodymium or europium ore would be much more interesting.

      You mean like Lynas mining's Mt Weld in Australia?

      • by Animats (122034)

        You mean like Lynas mining's Mt Weld in Australia?

        Right. And Mountain Pass, California.

        The big problem with rare earth mining (and gold mining) is finding a place to dump the wastes. Some rare earth mines are environmental disaster areas. Most are in the middle of nowhere. Mountain Pass CA is adjacent to I-15, east of Barstow. They have a unique solution - they're building a pipeline to Nevada so they can dump the sludge onto low value real estate in a red state.

  • Trivial usage (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:22AM (#37659340)

    Going by the linked ABC article - and the fact the only thing the company has announced was it's annual report today (which isn't really news as the projects/mines would already have been known).

    Scandium sells for $5,000/kg. According to the annual report, there is only current use of 5t a year (I assume worldwide). So that's only $25 million a year worth of output. That's pocket change for a mine.

    • by smash (1351)
      Ahh, but is the minimal current usage due to lack of supply, rather than lack of potential use, given appropriate quantities?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For those wondering how he got the $25 million/year figure: $5,000/kg is $2267.96/lb, 5 metric tons is 11,023 lbs. $2267.96/lb * 11,023 lbs = $24,999,723.08 which happens to be very close to $25 million.

  • .. if we found an ancient civilization's landfill.

  • by brenddie (897982) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:26AM (#37659352)

    http://www.metallicaminerals.com.au/board_of_directors [metallicaminerals.com.au]

    James Hetfield
    Lars Ulrich
    Kirk Hammett
    Robert Trujillo

    Let the suing being

    • http://www.metallicaminerals.com.au/board_of_directors [metallicaminerals.com.au]

      James Hetfield Lars Ulrich Kirk Hammett Robert Trujillo

      Let the suing being

      They forced Jason Newsted to sell his shares before he quit the band, and I have heard that Jason is going to sue them because of hostile takeover of the company and his loss of profits from this scandium deposits. ps. Jason is better basist than Trujillo! And Metallica ended in 1991!

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        Jason is better basist than Trujillo!

        You'd never know it, the way Lars mixed the albums. There's no bass at all in AJFA.

        And Metallica ended in 1991!

        Metallica was never all that great, if you go by the studio albums. Someone needs to steal all the master tapes, then create new mixes so you can hear Cliff and Jason in the first 4 albums, and release them on BitTorrent. Cliff was the real genius behind the band, and after he died, they started a downward spiral; the first two albums after him (AJFA and the

        • All I can say is that I totally agree. Maybe Newsteds bass was not "visible" on AJFA but I heard them performing live and it was really good. Same with "Black Album", St. Anger is kind of experiment which was not worth to spend few bucks on iTunes and on the rest lets just put the courtain of silence...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:27AM (#37659356)

    ...Message from White House...

    Australia found to harbor terrorists. Military action advised.

    • Dood they have Mad Max and Crocodile Hunter, better not fuck with them...

      • by Nutria (679911)

        Is Crocodile Dundee too old to put up a fight? (From seeing his age at IMDB, I guess he is...)

        • He lives in the US anyway. Tax exile.

          • by Jimbookis (517778)

            He lives in the US anyway. Tax exile.

            Really, you think it has nothing to do with the fact that his wife is a US citizen? If he was living in one of those European principalities or dodgy Caribbean islands you might have a point.

        • by Clsid (564627)

          He just fights with a Subaru now

    • by mjwx (966435)

      ...Message from White House...

      Australia found to harbor terrorists. Military action advised.

      Headline from 2012

      US Forces Fail to Stop Koala Drop Bear Insurgency in Australia.

      Fear the drop bear.

      P.S. it's harbour

      • by sosume (680416)

        You fail. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_and_British_English_spelling_differences [wikipedia.org]
        Most words ending in an unstressed -our in British English (e.g. colour, flavour, honour, neighbour, rumour, labour, humour, harbour) end in -or in American English (cf. color, flavor, honor, neighbor, rumor, labor, humor, harbor). Wherever the vowel is unreduced in pronunciation, this does not occur: e.g. contour, velour, paramour and troubadour are spelled thus the same everywhere.
        Most words of this category derive fr

        • by mjwx (966435)
          You fail.

          In Australia we speak British English (of course you know that because you actually read the wikipedia article you copy/pasted, didn't you).

          We dont Harbor anything, that's a spelling error.

          P.S. Just to confuse you, labour and Labor are both correct spellings with different meanings in Australian and British English.
          • by gmhowell (26755)

            In Australia we speak British English (of course you know that because you actually read the wikipedia article you copy/pasted, didn't you).

            You do understand your quaint local customs will be of scant interest to a US occupying force that will view extraneous usage of the letter 'u' as a clear sign that you are an insurgent?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "With scadnium selling currently selling for $5,000 a kilo, owner Metallica Metals says it will double the size of a planned cobalt and nickel mine at the site."

    Metallica was right when they wrote 'Battery' many years ago..

  • This discovery has been made at a former nickel mine at Greenvale, just out of Townsville.

    Wait, so the Powerpuff Girls (formerly known as the Kickass Girls) are really from Down Under?

    • by wierd_w (1375923)

      Why else do you think so many monsters attack them from the sea? What with global warming altering ocean currents, and the radioactive seawater from nearby Japan, how is it possible that they could be from anywhere ELSE but Australia?

      Be that as it may, a contact of mine from QLD insists that he had never even heard of the diminutive superheroines until I started asking about them, so they must be quite good at press manipulation down there.

  • Another day of mining!

  • but can you compete with the prices from China? Will your employees work for slave^H^H^H^H^H freedom wages?

  • OK, it's rare. But at atomic number 21 I'm not clear how anyone can say it is in the rare earth group, those are much heavier elements.
    • by snookums (48954)

      According to the ever-reliable wikipedia, Scandium has "traditionally" been classified with the rare earth metal on account of chemical similarity to the lanthanoid elements, and generally being found in nature alongside said elements.

  • How about (Score:4, Funny)

    by pkinetics (549289) on Monday October 10, 2011 @12:52AM (#37659466)
    US invasion of Australia to commence in 3...2...1...
    • by smash (1351)
      Not required. The aussie government will just lube up and bend over for the rogering they're about to receive via the "free trade" agreement or a revision thereof.
      • by qxcv (2422318)

        Say what you want about Australia's leaders being in bed with the US, but right now mining + free trade is keeping our economy chugging along pretty well (and has been for the last few decades). Protecting inefficient industries simply delays the inevitable whilst giving those in said industries free reign over pricing in local markets. Case in point: bananas. Bilateral FTAs are a win-win situation.

        • Protecting inefficient industries simply delays the inevitable whilst giving those in said industries free reign over pricing in local markets

          Where "efficient" generally means outsourcing to a country with lax labour and human rights enforcement.

        • by mjwx (966435)

          but right now mining + free trade is keeping our economy chugging along pretty well

          Like the free trade agreement that prevents us from exporting beef to the Americas.

          I think you need to read up on what those free trade agreements entail. They're pretty one sided (and not on Oz's favour), The US trade agreement in particular specifically prevents a lot of exports and shoe horns more then a few US laws on us without even asking our permission.

          Also the mining companies need to pull their heads and arse

          • by smash (1351)
            Thank you. The "Free trade agreement" is nothing of the sort. Hence my reference to australia lubing up for it. By the way, i live here in AU.
        • by Grishnakh (216268)

          Free trade agreements are good when the two countries involved are similar, and are on a "level playing field": similar taxes, labor rates, etc.

          They're not good when it's with a country where the labor rate is dirt-cheap, because there's no way to compete with that while maintaining your standard of living; then it becomes a race to the bottom. Of course, for some goods, you do have to take into account external factors like the environment/climate: for instance, bananas grow really well in Central America

          • by qxcv (2422318)

            That's not the point of an FTA. Have a look at economic convergence [wikimedia.org] and comparative advantage [wikimedia.org].

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              Too bad that economic theory is basically a load of crap (the comparative advantage one, the convergence one is true). If one country has cheaper labor than the other, then all the production is going to move to that country; it's that simple. That's exactly what we're seeing in the USA.

              That that theory is crap shouldn't be surprising, because much of economics is crap; it's a crap science, not a real science, and economists just make up stuff that sounds good to them because they have little way to actua

              • by qxcv (2422318)

                If one country has cheaper labor than the other, then all the production is going to move to that country; it's that simple.

                Wrong. Most labour intensive production will move to that country, because they have a comparative advantage in producing labour intensive products (or simply producing products in a labour intensive way). And that is where economic convergence comes in, as the country with an advantage in labour becomes wealthier, pay and living standards increase, and thus their comparative advantage in labour decreases. Eventually, the economy of both countries would equalize, and grow at the same (or at a similar) rate.

    • by savuporo (658486)
      Except that there are companies like Molycorp just reopening old pits in US right now. Rare earths are not all that rare, actually.
    • by SEE (7681)

      Australia's an industrialized English-speaking federation of states with a dedicated capital territory that fought at our side in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I, Afghanistan, and Iraq II. And we've got a defense agreement and a free trade agreement with them.

      Why would we bother to invade? They're already US!

      • by jwilso91 (1920940)

        Australia's an industrialized English-speaking federation of states with a dedicated capital territory that fought at our side in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq I, Afghanistan, and Iraq II. And we've got a defense agreement and a free trade agreement with them.

        Why would we bother to invade? They're already US!

        ... despite the fact that Australia (and NZ, for that matter) were rather poorly used by Britain in WWI and by the U.S. in WWII.

  • Just after I registered peakscandium.com!
  • Guess all that criminal activity which caused the place to be inhabited was worth it now, eh? Streuth!
  • by LS (57954)

    Scandi-lous!

    *ducks*

  • ... to welcome our new Aussie overlords.
  • by giorgist (1208992) on Monday October 10, 2011 @03:39AM (#37660080)
    In fact they are quite common. One of te big problem with rare earths is that if you extract them, you generally find them in company with thorium. Now even though it is naturally there, one you took it out of the ground you are obligated to treat it as a radioactive waste. You are not aloud to mix it back into the ground at the same consistency you found it. The result is that one of the few places on earth you can get rare earths is ... China. Who by the way is storing the thorium, and is moving ahead into building Gen IV reactors.

    In fact there is a dude that is petitioning to be allowed to extract "rare" earth metal and be allowed to store the thorium. This one mine will be able to produce all the energy the US needs as a ... byproduct. Now that is handy

    http://energyfromthorium.com/2011/03/10/free-thorium/
  • by Hognoxious (631665)

    Bruce 1: Strewth mate, there's bloomin' tons of it!
    Bruce 2: Yeah mate, fair dinkum.
    Bruce 1: So it's not rare, then?
    Bruce 2: Nope.
    Bruce 1: Blue ruin! So basically ...
    Bruce 2: ... it's earth, cobber.
    Bruce 1: Pub?
    Bruce 2: No worries!

  • ... the British shipped a whole boatload of 'ores to Australia back when it was still a prison colony.

  • ...Russia and China have returned from suddenly running off to change their underpants. Both claim to have eaten "too many tacos," while Australia replied, "Ch-CHING."
  • I just want to celebrate.
  • It may take as little as 10 years to bring it into production.

    Where is it going to be refined?

    (Sorry, I'm a geologist. Little details like that occur to me, and just might be important. But what would I know?)

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