Natural Renewable Resources

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Natural Renewable Resources

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Updated May 28, 2019
By Steffani Cameron
Reviewed by: Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA

“Natural renewable resources are big business as the planet’s resources deplete. Earth’s ever-growing population will peak and begin declining later in the 21st century, but that does little good today as the need for resources escalates.

The last four decades have been the greatest period of change in human history, during which time the population almost doubled from 4 billion in 1973 to 7.7 billion today, and the digital revolution transformed how we live and the resources (and energy) we require. Industry can radically improve the world by using naturally renewable resources in a sustainable way, but what’s renewable, and what’s not?

What Are Natural Resources?
The Renewable Resources Coalition describes natural resources as “materials and substances that occur naturally and can be used for economic gain. They include minerals, forests, fertile land, and water. Some natural resources, such as soil and water, are essential for the existence of life.”

There are both renewable natural resources and nonrenewable natural resources. The difference between them is whether the resource can be naturally replaced during our lifetime or if it’s gone for good once consumed. The struggle with renewability comes from the realization that many of our resources are being depleted too fast to recur naturally, as with forests in some regions or with resources like oil and minerals that take hundreds if not thousands or even millions of years to replenish.

Western society did not take the long view on resources for most of the industrial era, and current ecological realities are making sustainability a hot topic – one for which consumers have overwhelmingly shown a willingness to pay a premium.

A Natural Resources Glossary
Renewable resource: A natural resource that can be replaced or replenished within a few decades, such as timber. Typically, these are things like plants and animal-derived products.

Nonrenewable resource: When resources are unable to renew in a matter of decades or those that may be gone forever once harvested or utilized. These come from fossils, minerals or soils.

Organic renewable resource: When renewable resources come from living things, they’re considered organic, such as manure.

Inorganic renewable resource: These are nonliving resources like solar power, wind energy and hydroelectric energy.

Most-Used Natural Resources
Here’s a nonrenewable and renewable resources list, in no particular order, containing some of the world’s most-used resources.


One of the few metallic elements that naturally occurs in its native forms, copper has been used for thousands of years. Today, it’s big industry in America, which is its second-largest producer. Copper suffers no reduction in quality during recycling, making it as valuable when used as it is when new. It’s not a renewable resource, but it never deteriorates in quality.


The solar system’s second-most abundant element is a critical gas used for far more than just inflating party balloons. Used as a gas to cool the Large Hadron Collider and for making superconductor magnets in things like MRI machines, helium is a finite resource that plays an important role in today’s technologies.


This fossil fuel was used in heating for centuries but is now used in electricity production thanks to its low cost and high-energy output. Unfortunately, coal is nonrenewable, and mining for coal is also a highly destructive activity that results in toxic groundwater and air pollution.


Known as sodium chloride, only 20 percent of the planet’s mined salt winds up on tables or in food production. The other 80 percent is evenly split between industrial uses and road deicing. Salt can be extracted from the sea but is also mined as a mineral. It is nonrenewable.


Arguably the most important fuel powering our world today, oil is used in production of jet fuel, propane, diesel, asphalt and gasoline. It also makes the petrochemicals for making synthetic rubber, chemicals and even plastic.

A nonrenewable resource, discoveries of oil reserves are slowing down, while the population boom and increasing wealth means more cars and other fuel-guzzling machines in use than ever before. Based on the world’s known oil reserves, British Petroleum estimates that the 1.6 trillion barrels they believe exists will be enough to power the world at today’s consumption rates for another 50 years or so. Hence, this is why the race is on for renewable energy sources and the electric car.


Wood builds our homes and our furniture, and it plays a part in so many other products too, like paper. Technically, wood is a renewable resource, but it’s among the most exploited resources because it takes decades for forests to re-establish. Sustainable forestry happens in many regions, but ecosystem-destroying practices are common too. With sustainable practices and quick-growing varieties, forestry can be a renewable resource.


A nonrenewable resource, soil is critical for food production. As the Renewable Resources Coalition writes, “Soil is essential for the function of ecosystems providing nutrients, oxygen, water, and heat. Soil resources are being degraded by poor agricultural practices and chemical contamination. One of the most significant challenges facing current and future generations is the preservation of this irreplaceable natural resource from pollution and physical destruction.”

Renewable Energy Resources
The age of oil may still be here, but with the pollution from combustible engines and dwindling reserves, the rush for renewable energy has gone full throttle. Luckily, advances come so fast and furious that it’s hard to keep up with the renewable energy news. Renewable energy sources include:


One of the biomasses in use is an incredible reinvention of garbage. “Municipal solid waste” is the product converted in the biomass sector, which is essentially household trash. In 2015, 262 million tons of trash were able to be converted into energy, compost and recyclables.

Food waste creates methane gas, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than C02, so composting is a huge part of reducing methane gases in the atmosphere, plus it enrichens soil, which is a threatened, nonrenewable natural resource.

Other biomasses include wood and wood waste, ethanol and other biofuels.


For a long time, harnessing the sun’s energy had limited appeal because it was unable to be stored. Some of today’s batteries allow for solar energy to be converted and stored, causing a boom in solar plants and use of solar panels on everything from street lamps to private homes. Solar has its drawbacks, as sunlight is not constant or predictable, but using other renewable energy sources in concert with solar has proven extremely successful in countries like Germany, where clean energy is booming.


Wind energy is harvested around the world now. Most people are surprised to learn that wind energy turbines need wind to blow only at an average of 9 miles per hour for energy to be harnessed. A single commercial wind turbine can power as many as 1,600 houses.


Geothermal energy uses the Earth’s internal heat to create energy and provide heat. This is especially useful in places with volcanic evidence, like Portugal’s Azores Islands, where they are 85 percent energy independent thanks to their geothermal stores.


Using energy from water’s flow has generated power on land for decades thanks to hydroelectric dams, which convert energy when river water drops from one level to another. At sea, scientists are capturing wave energy too. This technology hasn’t been realized to its full capacity, but the potential is phenomenal. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the wave potential for the offshore U.S. could power 66 percent of the nation’s homes one day.”


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Natural Renewable Resources

Nature’s most popular raw materials

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Ubiquitous Industrial Minerals: Nature’s Most Popular Raw Materials
By Ali Somarin

“Do you know what industrial minerals are? You may not know them, but they permeate nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Industrial minerals are used, either in processed or natural state, to make building materials, paint, ceramics, glass, plastics, paper, electronics, detergents, medications and medical devices, and many more industrial and domestic products.

According to the Industrial Minerals Association of North America, every American consumes about 24 tons of industrial minerals each year.

Industrial minerals are generally defined as minerals that are not sources of metals, fuel, or gemstones. So what are they? The most widely-used industrial minerals include limestone, clays, sand, gravel, diatomite, kaolin, bentonite, silica, barite, gypsum, potash, pumice, and talc. Some of the industrial minerals commonly used in construction, such as crushed stone, sand, gravel, and cement, are called aggregates.

Industrial minerals are extremely versatile; most have at least two, sometimes many more, applications and span multiple markets. Talc, for example, is used in cosmetics, paper, and plastics. Silica sand is used to make glass, ceramics, and abrasives. While industrial minerals are defined as non-metallic, there are a few that have metallurgical properties, such as bauxite, which is the primary source of aluminum ore and is also used to make cement and abrasives. Bentonite and barite are non-fuel industrial minerals that have an important application in oil and gas extraction as components in drilling fluids. Bauxite and kaolin are used in fracking operations.

Industrial minerals are valued for their physical and chemical properties that make them so useful for so many products, and their price is driven by market demand for these items rather than by commodities exchange markets. Manufacturing, agriculture, and in particular the recovering construction and housing markets, are contributing to market growth for these minerals. For an in-depth look at the role of industrial minerals in the U.S economy, read the 2013 U.S. Geological Survey Mineral Commodity Summaries.

Market demand for industrial minerals also influences how they are mined. Industrial minerals are extracted primarily by surface mining, which is less expensive than underground mining. However, even when a location is determined to have a potentially economically viable mineral deposit, the costs of drilling, extraction, and transporting the raw materials still must be considered and weighed against the current market demand for that particular mineral. Industrial minerals are typically mined from existing sites or areas that are close to infrastructure as their price usually doesn’t justify the cost of building up the infrastructure needed to explore a new site.

Before a mining plan is developed, geologists need to map out the mineral distribution of the deposit by evaluating the geological processes, also called mineralizing events, which formed them. Once it’s been determined that a sufficient quantity of minerals exists and cost-effective mining can begin, geologists study the lithology and other geochemical data to direct and control the mining process. This is where X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis can assist. XRF is one of the most advanced tools for exploration and mining of industrial minerals. Portable XRF analyzers are an emerging instrument of choice for in-quarry exploration and evaluating the composition of raw materials such as phosphate, potash, gypsum, and limestone for industrial use. Other useful applications for portable XRF analysis in industrial minerals mining include:

Determining penalty elements in limestone, Fe ore, and bauxite
Blending and sorting of raw materials
Flagging grade, sub-grade, and waste, and prevent taking ore to the waste heap.
Lab-based XRF is a complimentary technique for evaluating prepared mineral samples for quality control and to determine their suitability for specific applications. Please share your experiences with either a portable or lab-based XRF analyzer for industrial minerals applications. As always, we welcome your comments.”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.


Nature's most popular raw materials

World’s Third Largest Diamond Found in Botswana

What an amazing find in the Botswana diamond mines!

World's Third Largest Diamond Found in Botswana

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Botswana unearths world’s third largest diamond

16TH JUNE 2021


“GABORONE – A 1 098 ct diamond believed to be the third-largest gem-quality stone ever to be mined, has been discovered in Botswana, according to a joint venture between Anglo American’s De Beers and the government.

The stone was presented to President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Wednesday by Debswana Diamond Company’s acting MD Lynette Armstrong. It is the third-largest in the world, behind the 3 106 ct Cullinan stone recovered in South Africa in 1905 and the 1 109 ct Lesedi La Rona unearthed by Lucara Diamonds in Botswana in 2015.

“This is the largest diamond to be recovered by Debswana in its history of over 50 years in operation,” Armstrong said.

“From our preliminary analysis it could be the world’s third largest gem quality stone. We are yet to make a decision on whether to sell it through the De Beers channel or through the State-owned Okavango Diamond Company,” Armstrong said.

Minerals Minister Lefoko Moagi said the discovery of the yet-to-be named stone, which measures 73 mm long, 52 mm wide and 27 mm thick, could not have come at a better time after the Covid-19 pandemic hit diamond sales in 2020.

The government receives as much as 80% of the income from Debswana’s sales through dividends, royalties and taxes.

Production at Debswana fell 29% in 2020 to 16.6-million carats while sales fell 30% to $2.1-billion as the pandemic impacted both production and demand.

In 2021, Debswana plans to increase output by as much as 38% to pre-pandemic levels of 23-million carats as the global diamond market recovers with the easing of travel restrictions and reopening of jewellers.”



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Surviving an Apocalypse

Here is just something fun – find out which 6 creatures are most likely to survive an apocalypse!

Mummichog - Surviving an Apocalypse

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6 Creatures That Could Survive an Apocalypse

Updated March 18, 2020
By Elliot Walsh

“With all the concern about COVID-19, a lot of people have been thinking about what would happen in an even worse pandemic situation.

So … what creatures would survive a world apocalypse? What organisms might be able to survive a worldwide nuclear war, pandemic or another world disaster?

Here are six creatures with the best chance of being OK.

1. Cockroaches
Cockroaches are the classic apocalypse survivor. With over 4,000 species, these resilient little insects can survive high levels of radiation and are rapidly becoming resistant to most insecticides.

A study from Purdue University showed that when cockroaches are exposed to insecticides and toxin, they rapidly evolve resistance to those toxins (not unlike bacteria). Not only that, but they also pick up resistance to other insecticides along the way.

Besides their resistance to toxins that can harm humans, cockroaches can also eat and survive on almost anything. Even without access to their typical diet, they would be able to find sustenance in basically anything.

Also, another scary fact: A single female cockroach can give birth to 200 to 300 offspring in her 1-2 year lifespan.

2. Mummichog
The mummichog, also called the killifish or mud minnow, has evolved to survive in extremely polluted water. Not only can they survive in water that’s 8,000 times above the lethal dose of pollution and toxins for them in normal circumstances, but they’re “thriving” in that water, as scientists in the study reported.

The study found that these fish quickly evolved genetic mutations that allowed them to either deactivate or turn off chemical pathways that would normally cause damage from pollutants. Similar to the cockroaches, they can rapidly evolve to survive dire circumstances.

If these little fish can evolve to survive in these horribly polluted environments, it’s very likely that they’ll be able to survive an apocalyptic world.

3. Tardigrade
Tardigrades, also known as “water bears,” are one of the most resilient creatures on the planet. These microscopic animals can survive pretty much anything that an apocalypse would throw at them.

They can survive over 1,000 times the levels of radiation that a human can. They can survive 1,200 times above normal atmospheric pressure. They can survive 10 years without water. They can survive within a huge range of temperature: from absolute 0 (aka -460 degrees Fahrenheit) to over 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

They can also live almost anywhere. Bottom of the ocean? Fine. A small puddle? Yep! In a small patch of moss? Of course. In a space vacuum? No problem.

Scientists also say these little water bears could even survive a supernova and large asteroid impacts.

4. The Devil Worm
With a name like this, it’s scary to think that it could survive almost anything.

The Devil Worm is a species of nematode that’s known for its terrifying appearance under a microscope and for its ability to survive extreme pressure and temperatures – and no oxygen.

This creature was only discovered in 2011, and it was found existing 2.2 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. It lives in complete darkness under extreme pressure, eating only small bacteria. It’s currently the deepest living animal in the Earth’s surface.

If the world was ending, it’s doubtful that these worms would even know something was happening, much less be affected by the world disaster.

5. Ants
There are over 12,000 species of ants all over the world, in a range of environments and temperatures. This bodes well for their survival since there are so many organisms able to survive in a variety of different temperatures, pressures, weather events and more.

They also have evolved a unique ability to target diseased members of their colony. One study revealed that ants will “sacrifice” or kill members of their ant colony that they sense are diseased or infected. This helps stop the spread of disease throughout their colony, which can help them survive pandemics and serious illnesses.

6. E. Coli
So far, all of the organisms on this list have been animals. However, some of the organisms that are likely to survive world pandemics or disasters are microbes like bacteria and single-celled organisms.

E. Coli in particular is a hearty microbe. This is the bacteria that causes gastrointestinal upset and lives in the intestines of humans and other animals.

Besides finding a place to exist inside living and dead organisms, E. Coli can survive six times the radiation that humans can, which bodes well for this part of our gut microbiome. They can also build this resistance extremely quickly, meaning they would likely survive even a very sudden disaster.”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Mining and Deforestation

Trying to balance industry and the impact it has on the environment is an ongoing battle.  Let’s hear what Mining Technology has to say regarding mining and deforestation.

Mining and Deforestation


Mining and deforestation: the unheeded industry challenge?
Matthew Farmer
22 March 2021

“Since 2014, the New York Declaration on Forests has aimed to do for deforestation what the Paris Agreement has since done for climate change. More than 200 endorsers aim to stop mining and other industries from damaging forests, jungles, and biodiversity. But in this time, the situation has only worsened. So what more can miners do to stop deforestation?

The people behind the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) have kept an eye on global man-made deforestation. The declaration aimed to halve deforestation by 2020, and now aims to eliminate it by 2030. Most deforestation comes from agriculture, but the declaration’s third goal aims to protect forests from mining and other industries.

An analysis by the World Bank suggests that 44% of all operational mines lie in forests. This represents 1,539 mines, with another 1,826 in development or currently inactive. Mining activities have driven 7% of deforestation, according to a 2012 assessment.

A 2020 update by NYDF says extraction companies are “increasingly recognising their forest impacts”. However, report author Erin Matson told us: “This increase is unfortunately starting from a very low baseline, so the attention paid to deforestation by mining companies is not nearly sufficient yet.”

The report continues: “It is clear that important targets set by the declaration for this year have been missed. The outlook is also grim: forest loss has increased rather than halved since 2014, and success stories are a rare exception.

“Without dramatic shifts in economic development strategies – away from a reliance on extraction, exploitation, and consumption, and toward alternative pathways which value forests and people – the world will not meet its ambitious goals for sustainable development, climate, and forests.”

Where are the current deforestation problems in mining?
When picturing mining in forests, your first thought will likely go straight to the area with biggest issues. Brazil stands out as having many large-scale, pollution-intensive mines in its enormous tropical forest. While mines in Latin America generally see less impact on their forests than in Asia and Africa, Brazil stands out as an exception.

Destruction of the Amazon rainforest has sped up in recent years, as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dismantles environmental protections. He has cut environmental protections, saying the Amazon “belongs to Brazil, not to the world”. This has allowed companies to move into previously inaccessible areas, and the pandemic seems likely to accelerate this.

The NYDF report states: “Measures to mitigate negative impacts on forests, and people dependent on them, are often lukewarm at best. Policies and institutions set up to protect lands and communities from environmental harms have been weakened in many forest countries, especially under cover of the Covid-19 crisis.”

Despite Brazil’s reliance on mining, the Covid-19 pandemic has fuelled backlash against the industry. The #MinersOutCovidOut campaign has petitioned the Brazilian government to expel illegal miners. Using legitimate mining infrastructure, “artisanal miners” have brought the pandemic into their otherwise isolated communities.

The disproportionate impact of “artisanal” mining on forests
Artisanal mining relies on its ability to meet demand without engaging with regulations. While ethical regulations focus on the supply side, Matson told a recent panel that: “Demand for minerals produced in forests continues to rise and the countries that consume these commodities have so far taken few steps to limit the impact of that demand.”

A 2012 study by consultancy Levin Sources and WWF found that illegal artisanal mines operating in more than two-thirds of protected forests. Since then, artisanal mining has almost doubled in scale.

However, smaller mines generally cause less direct deforestation. Instead, these cause pollution to surrounding areas, degrading ecosystems and damaging biodiversity. One scientific paper found that artisanal mines often poison waterways with mercury, in turn killing trees and animals that rely on them. Another says that artisanal mines caused the loss of 100,000 hectares of forests between 1984 and 2017.

A 2016 Levin Sources study found that artisanal alluvial diamond mining disturbed 100 times more land per carat than industrial kimberlite mining. While places such as Ghana have used small-scale mining to encourage economic development, the lack of oversight leads to a disproportionate impact on the surrounding environment.

Mining in forests, and the consequences beyond the lease
Some minerals cause more issues than others. More than 60% of nickel, titanium, and aluminium mines lie in forested areas. However, gold, iron, and copper extraction bring the greatest volume of mining into forests.

The NYDF report urges miners to consider their impacts beyond just the site of the mine. For instance, exploration access roads cause direct logging, but also allow easier access deeper into forests. This increases access for rural communities, but also allows destructive agricultural practices, which are the leading cause of deforestation.

While this may seem tangential, a 2017 study in scientific journal Nature found that deforestation around mining leases was 12 times more prevalent than within them. This comes from development of airstrips, staff housing, and other developments directly stemming from projects. Examining mining leases in the Amazon, the study found that mining projects noticeably increased deforestation for 70km around them.

Miners cannot control “slash and burn” agriculture, but political leaders can. As such, the NYDF report authors suggest approaching environmental issues from a broader perspective.

In remote forested areas, mining can lead to game hunting and monocultural farming. Along with deforestation, this in turn leads to poor biodiversity. As a result of practices like these, the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) set up standards to encourage best practice.

ICMM COO Aidan Davy told us: “Biodiversity is declining at unprecedented rates, so a more strategic approach is required. We should question current practices relating to the allocation of concessions and licences within forest areas and call on governments to prohibit all development – including forestry, agribusiness, or infrastructure activity – in forest areas of greatest conservation value, coupled with stronger protective measures.”

What questions should mining companies ask to decrease their impact on forests?
NYDF report author Matson told us: “Comprehensive Environmental and Social Impact Assessments should be standard before exploration begins in any new site. The assessments need to cover not just the expected environmental impacts within the direct footprint of the mine site, but also the indirect impacts of access infrastructure. Then, the company can apply a mitigation hierarchy to address these impacts.”

In some ways, mitigation hierarchies act similar to a risk assessment. They encourage companies to eliminate unnecessary impacts at the planning stage, and to take remedial measures for unavoidable effects. The report emphasises: “Restoration and offsetting options should only be used as a last resort.”

Both Levin and the NYDF report also support industry bodies making and enforcing practice guidelines. ICMM’s Davy continued: “We need mining and metals companies across the industry to commit to higher standards of performance on biodiversity, and other environmental, social, and governance areas, which is the purpose of ICMM’s Mining Principles.

“These principles require our members to neither explore nor develop new mines in World Heritage sites, respect legally designated protected areas, and ensure that any new operations or changes to existing operations are compatible with the value for which such areas were designated.

”They also require companies to assess and address risks and impacts to biodiversity and ecosystem services by implementing the mitigation hierarchy, with the ambition of achieving no net loss to biodiversity.”

Matson continues: “The uptake of standards like these has been quite small and slow compared to the size of the sector. Separately, many sector-wide principles that aim to mainstream sustainable mining practices do not make specific mention of forests, so this is not just a gap at the individual company level.”

“The most important step toward solving this problem is recognising it and understanding its scale. For this, we need to drastically increase transparency around the impacts, sustainability commitments, and actions of companies.

“Companies need to measure and publicly report their forest impacts, adopting commitments and targets to reduce the impacts, and disclosing progress toward these targets on a regular basis. In 2019, CDP introduced a mining-specific module in their forests questionnaire for mining companies to disclose against, which would be a good place to start for any company interested in being part of the solution.””




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Lets learn a little about potash.


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Potash: A Look at the World’s Most Popular Fertilizer
By Ali Somarin

“Potash, pronounced pot-ash, is the term commonly used to describe potassium-containing salts used as fertilizer. Most potash is derived from potassium chloride (KCl), which is also known as Muriate of Potash (MOP). As a source of soluble potassium, potash is vital to the agricultural industry as a primary plant nutrient. Potash increases water retention in plants, improves crop yields, and influences the taste, texture, and nutritional value of many plants.

Potash was originally made by leaching tree ashes in metal pots. The process left a white residue on the pot, called “pot ash.”


MOP is the most common potash, representing approximately 95% of agricultural potash worldwide, but there are several other forms. The second major form of potash is potassium sulphate or Sulphate of Potash (SOP). What’s the difference? MOP is about half potassium, half chloride, which makes it useful in applications where soil chloride content is low. It is used on carbohydrate crops including wheat, oats, and barley. Also, it’s cost-effective compared to other potassium compounds.

Unlike MOP, which is mined, most SOP is produced chemically. SOP doesn’t contain any chloride, which can be an advantage in situations where soil chloride content is high, for example, in very dry environments. SOP is considered a specialty fertilizer for crops such as fruits, vegetables, potatoes, tobacco, and tree nuts and though it represents a smaller market than MOP, it is priced at a premium.

Where does potash come from?

Most of the world’s potash comes from Canada, with the largest deposits located in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. Russia and Belarus rank as the second and third highest potash producers. In the United States, 85% of potash is imported from Canada, with the remaining produced in Michigan, New Mexico, and Utah. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the 2013 production value of marketable potash, f.o.b. mine, was about $649 million. The fertilizer industry used about 85% of U.S. potash sales, and the chemical industry used the remainder. More than 60% of the potash produced was MOP.

Potash mining

Today, potash comes from either underground or solution mining. Underground potash deposits come from evaporated sea beds. Boring machines dig out the ore, which is transported to the surface to the processing mill, where the raw ore is crushed and refined to extract the potassium salts. When deposits are located very deep in the earth, solution mining is used as an alternative to traditional underground mining. Solution mining employs the use of water or brine to dissolve water soluble minerals such as potash, magnesium or other salts. Wells are drilled down to the salt deposits, and the solvent is injected into the ore body to dissolve it. The solution is then pumped to surface and the minerals are recovered through recrystallization.

What both mining techniques have in common is that companies employing either one need to improve operational efficiency and quality control, increase productivity, manage data, and monitor their operations for compliance with product and environmental safety standards. Laboratory information management systems (LIMS) are the ideal solution to accomplish these goals. Other solutions that improve mine operational efficiency include portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers, bulk weighing and monitoring products and mineral analyzers and sampling systems.”




By Chris Kozicki

“Potash is the general name given to various inorganic compounds that contain potassium in a water-soluble form. A number of common potassium compounds exist, including potassium carbonate and potassium chloride. Before the industrial era, potash was obtained by leaching wood ashes in a pot (hence the name ‘pot-ash’). This product was used to manufacture soap, glass, and even gunpowder.

Today, deposits of potassium-bearing minerals are mined and processed to compound potash into a more usable, granular form. Astonishingly, the amount of potash produced worldwide each year exceeds 30 million tonnes. While most potash is used in various types of fertilizers, there are many other non-agricultural purposes for this element. Modern processing, such as potash compaction, produces a readily available form of potassium, leaving granular potash open to a myriad of uses.

Common Source Materials: Potassium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Sulfate…
Plants require three primary nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Potash contains soluble potassium, making it an excellent addition to agricultural fertilizer. It ensures proper maturation in a plant by improving overall health, root strength, disease resistance, and yield rates. In addition, potash creates a better final product, improving the color, texture, and taste of food.

While some potassium is returned to farmlands through recycled manures and crop residues, most of this key element must be replaced. There is no commercially viable alternative that contributes as much potassium to soil as potash, making this element invaluable to crops. For this reason, the most prevalent use of potash is in the agriculture industry. Without fertilizers assisting crop yields, scientists estimate that 33% of the world would experience severe food shortages. The replenishment of potassium to the soil is vital to supporting sustainable food sourcing. Potash compaction granules blend easily into fertilizers, delivering potassium where it is needed most.

Common Source Materials: Potassium Carbonate
Another agricultural use for potash (potassium carbonate) is animal feed. Potash is added as a supplement to boost the amount of nutrients in the feed, which in turn promotes healthy growth in animals. As an added benefit, it is also known to increase milk production.

Common Source Materials: Potassium Carbonate
The food industry utilizes potash (potassium carbonate) as a general-purpose additive. In most instances, it is added as a source of food seasoning. Potash is also used in brewing beer. Historical Use: Potash was once used in German baked goods. It has properties similar to baking soda, and was used to enhance recipes such as gingerbread or lebkuchen.

Common Source Materials: Potassium Hydroxide
Caustic potash (potassium hydroxide) is a precursor to many ‘potassium soaps,’ which are softer and less common than sodium hydroxide-derived soaps. Potassium soaps have greater solubility, requiring less water to liquefy versus sodium soaps. Caustic potash is also used to manufacture detergents and dyes.

Common Source Materials: Potassium Chloride
Potash (potassium chloride) is used as an environmentally friendly method of treating hard water. It regenerates the ion exchange resins more efficiently than sodium chloride, reducing the total amount of discharged chlorides in sewage or septic systems.

Common Source Materials: Potassium Chloride
Potash (potassium chloride) is a major ingredient in deicer products that clear snow and ice from surfaces such as roads and building entrances. While other chemicals are available for this same purpose, potassium chloride holds an advantage by offering a fertilizing value for grass and other vegetation near treated surfaces.

Common Source Materials: Potassium Carbonate
Glass manufactures use granular potash (potassium carbonate) as a flux, lowering the temperature at which a mixture melts. Because potash confers excellent clarity to glass, it is commonly used in eyeglasses, glassware, televisions, and computer monitors.

In addition to the uses described above, potash also lends itself well to a variety of other applications, including aluminum recycling, explosives (in products such as fireworks and matches), and pharmaceuticals. As an essential nutrient available in a variety of compounds and flexible in application, the benefits that potash offers the modern world are nearly endless.

FEECO has been working with the various forms of potash for over 60 years, providing agglomeration and material handling solutions for potash processing facilities around the world. Additionally, the FEECO lab can test feasibility of potash granulation and agglomeration with various binders, equipment, and process variations. Contact us today for more information on granular potash!”


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Things you might not know about dust

Concierge Home Services (Ottowa) posted an article on things that you might not know about dust.  Enjoy the read and have a good day!

Things you might not know about dust

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What is Dust & 10 Things You Might Not Know About It

“Dust – the bane of our existence. It seems as though every time you turn around, something else is dusty.

Have you ever wondered what dust really is? In general, dust is made up of tiny particles that create a fine powder.

It can be made of anything from earth to waste and is often carried in the air, landing on surfaces it encounters. What you may not know are some of the facts about dust. Luckily, this post will help educate you!

1. Dust really is a combination of so many things.
From fibres from clothing to hair particles to that springtime pollen, they’re all factors in creating dust. It also can change depending on your local environment.

2. The average human creates approximately 2g dead skin every day.
Yep – dead skin is a big component of dust. Each person can shed up to 2 pounds of dead skin cells over the course of a year. The more people and pets in the house, the more dead skin cells are shed into the air of our homes. These combine with other dirt particles from a variety of sources to create the dust you see on your household surfaces.

3. Dust can stay suspended in the air for up to 5 days.
Dust particles are so tiny that common air currents can keep them hanging mid-air for an extended period of time. This is probably why it seems like dust is always around! It hangs in the air and our bodies create more every hour…hence the need to dust regularly!

4. Never use a dry cloth to remove dust – it puts dust through the air.
Doing so will only stir up the particles and you’ll have dust through the air! It’s best to use a damp cloth. We prefer microfibre to effectively remove dust, not just move it around. There’s a science to cleaning!

5. You’re probably not allergic to dust.
Chances are what you’re actually allergic to are dust mites. These microscopic parasites eat dead skin and it’s their decaying bodies and poop that actually cause the allergic reactions!

6. Dust isn’t just on flat surfaces.
Dust particles can accumulate anywhere – even your bedding. Those dust mites? They could be there too! A good rule of thumb is to wash your bedding once a week and put through the dryer or hang in the sun to keep them at bay. If you can’t wash your bedding, freezing it will kill the mites as well!

7. Humidity keeps dust at bay.
When skin and fabrics are dry, they produce more dust. For the best indoor air quality, keep the humidity level between 30% and 50%. This is more comfortable for you, and slows down the creation of dust.

8. Get rid of thick carpets and rugs.
All those nooks and crannies are perfect spots for dust to hide. Even with vacuuming on a regular basis, the particles are trapped until they get released into the air by someone walking on it.

9. Invest in a good vacuum.
While any vacuuming will help with controlling dust, the result is only as good as the quality of the equipment being used. We recommend changing the bag immediately when it’s full, or empty the dirt cup on a bagless vacuum with every use. Best is class is a 4-stage HEPA filters which removes 99.97% of particles – this is what our cleaning technicians use!

10. Groom your pets outside.
Pet dander can greatly add to your dust problem. By grooming them outside, you minimize flyaway fur – but only if you keep the windows closed!

If you don’t have time to fight the battle against dust, give us a call. Whether its a bi-weekly visit or you just need a deep clean, we’d be happy to help!”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

What Happens When A Mine Closes?

What needs to happen when a mine closes down? gives some answers.


Source –

Mining and the Environment: What Happens When A Mine Closes?
By Ali Somarin

“Mining operations, however expansive and complex, are temporary. Eventually, once the most accessible and valuable materials have been extracted, the mine is closed, and the site must be restored back to its original state. This includes covering up mine entrances, replanting grass and trees, and testing surrounding water, soil, and air for contaminants.

Since 1977 when the U.S. Congress enacted the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, many regulations have been established to ensure mine sites are operated, and any environmental damage is remediated, in a responsible way. The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), for example, is a bureau within the United States Department of the Interior created to address coal mine remediation.

The OSMRE’s mission statement asserts, “Our primary objectives are to ensure that coal mines are operated in a manner that protects citizens and the environment during mining and assures that the land is restored to beneficial use following mining, and to mitigate the effects of past mining by aggressively pursuing reclamation of abandoned coal mines.”

Other U.S. laws governing the mining industry include:

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), or the Superfund program
The Clean Water Act
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Similar European Union directives include:

The Environmental Impact Assessment Directive
The Water Framework Directive
The Waste Framework, Hazardous Waste, and Landfill Directives.
Canadian federal directives include:

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
The Fisheries Act
The Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
Some of the issues addressed by mine site remediation regulations include:


Acid mine drainage is one of the primary sources of mining-related pollution. Mining activities increase the volume and rate of exposure of sulfur-containing rocks to air and water, creating sulfuric acid and dissolved iron. This acid run-off dissolves heavy metals such as copper, lead and mercury which leach into ground water aquifers and surface water sources, harming humans and wildlife.

Tailings—mineral waste products—are another major pollutant. Because tailings originate in slurry form they are dumped in or near water, contaminating the water and destroying aquatic life. Tailings also can be transported by wind or water to contaminate other areas. Mine wastewater containing metals and chemicals can also leach into nearby waterways. Lab and portable technologies for water analysis can help determine the extent of the pollution.


In addition to physical landscape damage, mining operations create sediment containing heavy metals which settle into surrounding soil, or are carried by wind or water to contaminate rivers or other land areas. These metals aren’t biodegradable so the soil stays contaminated without corrective action.

Chemical analysis of soil and sediment samples at the mine site is an important step in detecting the presence of environmental contaminates that may remain as a result of mining activities. Both Energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) and wavelength dispersive x-ray fluorescence (WDXRF) are good solutions for this analysis. Handheld XRF instruments provide instantaneous analysis in the field and effectively perform double-duty when used to monitor elemental contaminants at mine sites and in waste streams, in addition to being used for exploration and mining applications. These handheld analyzers are equipped with embedded GPS that can record the coordinates of the exact location of the contamination site as well. Lab-based WDXRF instruments perform accurate quantitative analysis of the vast variety of material, matrix types, and concentrations that must be evaluated in soil and sediment analysis.

Air quality:

Particulate matter (PM) in the air surrounding the mine location is another source of pollution. Dust results from the movement of soil, vehicles traveling over unpaved surfaces, heavy equipment operation, blasting, and wind, which can erode mine tailings piles to create potentially contaminated fugitive dust. Dust inhalation, particularly respirable coal dust, is a serious occupational hazard in the mining industry. Personal and ambient particulate monitoring equipment is used to measure PM to ensure exposure limits are not exceeded.

As it says in the Act, “Coal mining operations presently contribute significantly to the Nation’s energy requirements… and it is, therefore, essential to the national interest to insure the existence of an expanding and economically healthy underground coal mining industry…. [The] surface and underground coal mining operations affect interstate commerce, contribute to the economic well-being, security, and general welfare of the Nation and should be conducted in an environmentally sound manner….[And] the cooperative effort established by this Act is necessary to prevent or mitigate adverse environmental effects of present and future surface coal mining operations.” Read the rest of Section 101 of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977.”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

What Happens When A Mine Closes?

What is Ambient Air?

A good article to read regarding ambient air.  Have a great day!

What is Ambient Air?

Source –

What is Ambient Air?

By David Sherwin – 08.08.2017

“Air quality is an important issue, especially in highly regulated industries such as coal mining, cement processing, and coal- and oil-fired power generation. Rules such the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) and the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) Standards are designed to protect the public and keep ambient air pollution-free. Ozone is another pollutant of ambient air that has been linked to global warming and health risks for children. The 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Ozone addresses primary and secondary ozone standard levels.

What do we mean by ambient air?

Safeopedia explains that ambient air is atmospheric air in its natural state, not contaminated by air-borne pollutants. Ambient air is typically 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. The extra 1% is made up of a combination of carbon, helium, methane, argon and hydrogen. The closer the air is to sea level, the higher the percentage of oxygen. Manufacturing processes and the burning of fossil fuels has directly impacted ambient air quality by releasing a high level of industrial and chemical pollutants into the atmosphere.

What is ambient air pollution?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines ambient air pollution as potentially harmful pollutants emitted by industries, households, cars, and trucks. Of all of these pollutants, fine particulate matter has the greatest effect on human health. Most fine particulate matter comes from fuel combustion from vehicles, power plants, industry, households, or biomass burning. WHO estimates fine particulate matter causes 25% of lung cancer deaths, 8% of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) deaths, and 15% of ischaemic heart disease and stroke.

Advanced technology is available to monitor particulates in ambient air. These instruments measure critical regulatory parameters including PM-10 and PM-2.5 mass concentration as it exists in ambient air. Monitoring for aerosols and dust within a designated area, whether for research or routine input, can include various industry-proven particulate matter technologies, such as gravimetric sampling, light scattering, beta attenuation, and inertial weighing TEOM technologies.

Portable and personal instruments are also available to monitor ambient air in the workplace to help detect the presence of toxic vapors and gases. Without such equipment, respirable particles can settle deep in the lungs, resulting in serious health and respiratory problems, such as decreased lung function, asthma, irregular heartbeat, Black Lung Disease and chronic bronchitis.

According to the U.S. EPA, there are many reasons why ambient air monitoring is needed:

Provide air pollution data to the general public in a timely manner;
Support implementation of air quality goals or standards;
Evaluate the effectiveness of emissions control strategies;
Provide information on air quality trends;
Provide data for the evaluation of air quality models; and
Support research (e.g., long-term studies of the health effects of air pollution).”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.

Hand Sanitizer

We have had to use hand sanitizer so much lately!  But how does it work and is it effective against viruses?

How Does Hand Sanitizer Really Work?

How Does Hand Sanitizer Really Work?

Updated March 19, 2020
By Rachelle Dragani

“Hand sanitizer has never had a bigger moment. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend our lives, hand sanitizer has turned into an important part of slowing the spread and flattening the curve.

But in between the globs of hand sanitizer (if you can can get your hands on it, that is) you may be wondering …

How Does Hand Sanitizer Even Work?
Alcohol-based hand sanitizer works by destroying the microbes that make up many bacterias and some viruses.

The main ingredient of these sanitizers is alcohol, usually ethanol (which is the same kind of alcohol you need if you’re brewing a drink like beer or wine), isopropanol (often found in rubbing alcohol, though some formulas have ethanol in rubbing alcohols instead), or N-propanol. Additionally, different manufacturers add ingredients like water, fragrances or ingredients that keep the alcohol from drying out your hands.

It’s the alcohol that does the job, though. When an alcohol-based sanitizer comes in contact with bacteria, a process called denaturation occurs. During denaturation, the alcohol unfolds and inactivates the important proteins and the outer coat of the bacteria. This process makes it impossible for the microbe to stay together, effectively rendering it useless, or killing it.

It’s kind of like if you were wearing a coat to protect you on a cold day, but then you walked by a magical machine that made the coat quickly shred into a million pieces. The pieces would still technically be around you, but when they weren’t held together by the threads that make them into a winter jacket, they wouldn’t be able to protect you – or anything – from the cold. Like the bacteria when it comes in contact with sanitizer, it’s rendered useless.

What About Viruses?
Since hand sanitizers are often called antibacterials, many people believe they’re ineffective against viruses. That’s not 100% true. But far more bacterias have that coat, which is usually referred to as an envelope, than viruses do.

There are enveloped viruses, though, and COVID-19 is one of them.

That means that hand sanitizers that have at least a 60% concentration of alcohol in them can be effective for at least fighting off some of the virus microbes that could be on your hands. You don’t need to go higher than 95%, as the killing of germs seems to top out there. Look for the percentage of alcohol listed right on the bottle.

If you are trying to use a homemade sanitizer or one where you can’t find the percentage of alcohol, do not rely on it to kill the virus.

And even if you’ve got one that’s 60% or more, don’t rely on hand sanitizer alone. The CDC recommends washing your hands with warm water and soap when possible, as it’s the best at fighting off all kinds of germs and chemicals. That’s especially the case if you’re trying to use sanitizers to clean your hands in addition to sanitizing them.

“Many studies show that hand sanitizers work well in clinical settings like hospitals, where hands come into contact with germs but generally are not heavily soiled or greasy,” says the CDC.

That means that if you’ve just gone outside to shoot some socially distant hoops in your driveway and come back inside with hands covered in grime, hand sanitizer alone likely isn’t going to get rid of all that dirt. In that instance, wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds, and save the sanitizer for a boost when your hands aren’t as dirty and greasy.

It’s always important to practice this kind of sanitation, but now, it’s literally a matter of life and death for people around the world. Wash your hands, use a 60% or higher hand sanitizer to supplement if possible and stay safe!”


Dust Monitoring Equipment – providing equipment, services and training in dust fallout management to the mining industry.