US$25 Billion AP1000 Nuclear Plants Abandoned

The vast Summer Nuclear Power station project – now abandoned due to cost overruns.

The state of the US and indeed western nuclear industries is exemplified by the decision on Monday to abandon the 35% completed Summer Nuclear Power Station project in south Carolina.  These were the only nuclear plants being constructed in the United States and upon completion would have been the first new plants since the 1980s.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Company (SCE&G), principal subsidiary of SCANA Corporation (SCANA) (NYSE:SCG), announced it plans to cease construction of the two new nuclear units at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station in Jenkinsville in the USA.

The decision was reached due to the revised anticipated costs of construction being more than US$25 billion up from US$11 billion, uncertainty regards production tax credits (the plants would need to be in production by 2021 which seems most unlikely to qualify) and the realistic level of payments from Toshiba.  In addition the co-owner of the project, the South Carolina Public Service Authority elected to suspend construction as they had determined that it would not be in the best interest of its customers and other stakeholders to continue construction of the project.

Based on an independent evaluation the parties concluded that completion of both Units would be prohibitively expensive.

SCE&G also considered the feasibility of completing the construction of Unit 2 and abandoning Unit 3 under the existing ownership structure and using natural gas generation to fulfill any remaining generation needs. This option provided a potentially achievable path forward that may have delivered SCE&G a similar megawatt capacity as its 55% interest in the two Units and provided a long-term hedge against carbon legislation/regulation and against gas price volatility. SCE&G had not reached a final decision regarding this alternative when Santee Cooper determined that it would be unwilling to proceed with continued construction of two Units or one Unit. Consequently, SCE&G determined that it is not in the best interest of customers and other stakeholders for it to continue construction of one Unit.

Based on this evaluation and analysis, and Santee Cooper’s decision, SCE&G has concluded that the only remaining prudent course of action will be to abandon the construction of both Unit 2 and Unit 3 under the terms of the Base Load Review Act.

The cost blowout was due to the construction of a first-of-kind AP1000 reactor.  The AP1000 is  Westinghouse’s  new generation reactor designed for lower cost of construction and higher safety.

AP1000 nuclear plant components

The AP1000 plant was completely resigned from earlier generation plants with:

 

  • Fewer safety-related valves
  • Less safety-related piping
  • Less control cable
  • Fewer pumps
  • Less seismic building volume

Nevertheless, in the USA it seems that nuclear plants are unlikely to be economic now or in the immediate future.

 

Oil Price Above US$50/BBL

US oil prices (WTI) settled above US$50 per barrel on Monday, the first time for several months.  WTI futures rose 95% with many technical indicators showing a strong buy.  Likely automated trading followed the momentum.   Brent rose to US$50.20 a barrel in the ICE.

What drove this?  Likely a combination of rapidly declining US storage and the Saudi announcement that it will limit exports. The other drivers in the markets which is likely to limit the upside is US fracking which becomes increasingly profitable at these prices and recovery from the supply glut and the lack of OPEC restraint of the last few years.

We now have the perfect storm for speculative price moves, with declining inventories and a commitment to supply restriction plus continuing growth in demand.  While increasing US supply on any price uptick will see a cap on prices, the EIA announced that production in May was less than previously anticipated.

Is it Time to Tax the Fat?

Lunch break

Obesity has become a real worldwide epidemic with an estimated 700 million people being so classified.  A new report in the latest issue of  New England Journal of Medicine highlights the issues and the conclusion are truly alarming.  This collaborative  (~200 researchers) research (funded by the Gates foundation) evaluated the trends in the prevalence of the overweight and obesity as well as the patterns of deaths and disability-adjusted life-years related to high BMI, according to age and sex, in 195 countries. This analysis supersedes all previous results from the Global Burden of Disease study with respect to high BMI by comprehensively reanalyzing all data from 1990 through 2015 using consistent methods and definitions.

Here are their key findings

  • In 2015, an estimated 604 million adults and 108 million children worldwide were obese. That represents about 12% of all adults and 5% of all children.
  • The prevalence of obesity doubled in 73 countries between 1980 and 2015 and continuously increased in most of the other countries.
  • China and India had the highest number of obese children. China and the U.S. had the highest number of obese adults.
  • Excess body weight accounted for about 4 million deaths — or 7.1% of all deaths — in 2015.
  • Almost 70 percent of deaths related to a high BMI were due to cardiovascular disease.
  • The study finds evidence that having a high BMI causes leukemia and several types of cancer, including cancers of the esophagus, liver, breast, uterus, ovary, kidney and thyroid.
  • In rich and poor countries, obesity rates increased, indicating “the problem is not simply a function of income or wealth. Changes in the food environment and food systems are probably major drivers. Increased availability, accessibility, and affordability of energy-dense foods, along with intense marketing of such foods, could explain excess energy intake and weight gain among different populations. The reduced opportunities for physical activity that have followed urbanization and other changes in the built environment have also been considered as potential drivers; however, these changes generally preceded the global increase in obesity and are less likely to be major contributors.”

The level of obesity across the western world is nothing short of alarming and will place enormous strain on an already burdened health case system.  Not surprisingly the USA is the fattest nation on the planet with a staggering 38% of the population over 15 YO being classified as obese and the percentage of obese women is even higher. The USA also holds the record for age-standardised childhood obesity, at 12.7%.  Australia, Canada, Mexico, UK and several European nations are not far behind.

Age Standardized Prevalence of Obesity Worldwide in 2015

More alarmingly there has been  a rapid increase in obesity levels across the world, driven by an abundance of high-energy food and effective marketing.

Relative Percent Change in Obesity Prevalence between 1980 and 2015 for Males >20
Relative Percent Change in Obesity Prevalence between 1980 and 2015 for Feales >20

It just seems that when large portions of the human population have ready access to food they simply cannot stop themselves from eating.  A portion of the issue is likely genetics.  Humans in cold climates that more efficiently converted calories into fat-stores were better able to survive the winter and better able to care for their offspring and had a higher chance of passing on their genes.

This advantage however fails the host when there is an inexhaustible supply of high calorific value food and exhaustible supply of will power or intelligence.

Health Effects of Obesity

There are consequences for obesity as well all know and these consequences are very expensive for the public health systems and devastating for the individuals concerned.

Epidemiological evidence supporting causality between high BMI and disease

A Solution

Education has simply failed.  In the west for too long, at schools and across the media excessive consumption and obesity have been major public health issues.  The shopkeepers have done a fantastic job in generating products and spaces which are appealing to consumers.  They have rarely acted in the public interest for example, adding salt and excessive sugar to breakfast cereals because it results in  consumer addiction.

It is time for somewhat more dramatic measures.  Western government could instigate 20% sugar and fat taxes on fast foods (in addition to existing consumer taxes) and reduce consumer taxes to zero on healthy alternatives for example unprocessed fruit and vegetables.  If this fails in addition to education then health care billing related to BMI could be a more draconian measure.  It is time to tax fat and reduce obesity.

Original Research

BACKGROUND

Although the rising pandemic of obesity has received major attention in many countries, the effects of this attention on trends and the disease burden of obesity remain uncertain.

METHODS

We analyzed data from 68.5 million persons to assess the trends in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adults between 1980 and 2015. Using the Global Burden of Disease study data and methods, we also quantified the burden of disease related to high body-mass index (BMI), according to age, sex, cause, and BMI in 195 countries between 1990 and 2015.

RESULTS

In 2015, a total of 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults were obese. Since 1980, the prevalence of obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries and has continuously increased in most other countries. Although the prevalence of obesity among children has been lower than that among adults, the rate of increase in childhood obesity in many countries has been greater than the rate of increase in adult obesity. High BMI accounted for 4.0 million deaths globally, nearly 40% of which occurred in persons who were not obese. More than two thirds of deaths related to high BMI were due to cardiovascular disease. The disease burden related to high BMI has increased since 1990; however, the rate of this increase has been attenuated owing to decreases in underlying rates of death from cardiovascular disease.

CONCLUSIONS

The rapid increase in the prevalence and disease burden of elevated BMI highlights the need for continued focus on surveillance of BMI and identification, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based interventions to address this problem. (Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.)

Read the article in full
Read the supplementary materials

The Palaeozoic Variscan Oceans. An outstanding geoscience research contribution

 

The Variscan area of Europe with palinspastic movement of Iberia in relation to Central Europe to take account of the Bay of Biscay opening. Franke et al 2017

Gondwana Research 48 (2017) 257–284: Read Here
Wolfgang Franke, L. Robin M. Cocks, Trond H. Torsvik

The Variscan and related North American orogenies which now total 6,000 kilometres of strike, were caused by the opening and closing of the Rheic Ocean over a 100 million year period from 440MA to 320MA. This period saw the creation of several minor oceans and seaways, repeated periods of rifting and subduction and ultimately with the amalgamation of Laurussia and Gondwana, formation of the Pangea super-continent. Wolfgang Franks and colleagues have undertaken a comprehensive review and re-interpretation of the oceanic history of the Variscan domain. They attribute the complex geology to the opening and closing of 5 oceans or seaways, rifting and repeated subduction events. As a consequence of this complex tectonism, Variscan Europe is well endowed with mineral deposits although few are in production. Indeed this is where the industrial exploitation of Cu, Pb, Zn, Ag and Au commenced in post Roman times. The proposed complexity is very similar to that observed along the margins of the Tethyan Ocean to the east during a later period. This paper is well worth a detailed review.

In the comments below we summarize the Franks et al paper to produce a history of the Variscan.

A Brief History of the Variscan

Early Palaeozoic

  • From at least Cambrian times the Armorican Terrane Assemblage (ATA) appears to have formed a promontory at the edge of the Gondwana Craton near NW Africa
  • In the early Ordovician (~490MA) along the eastern side of Iapetus Ocean a rift developed along the NW flank of Gondwana forming the Rheic Ocean. A rifted Gondwana fragment Avalonia moved westwards towards Laurussia as the Rheic Ocean expanded at the expense of the Iapetus;
  • The Rheic Ocean became very wide;
  • Towards the end of the Ordovician Avalonia merged with Laurussia with much strike-slip faulting;

Silurian

  • During the Late Silurian and Early Devonian NE subduction of the Rheic Ocean lead to back-arc spreading and sedimentation in what is now in part the Rheno-Hercynian belt
  • Additional rifting in the Silurian (~440MA) along the NW margin of Africa resulted in the formation of the Saxo-Thuringian and the Galicia-Moldanubian seaways and the separation of the ATA elements from each other and ATA from Gondwana (with Palaeo-Adria to the immediate east).

Devonian

  • The Saxo-Thuringian Ocean and ultimately, collision of the Thuringia and Franconia elements of the ATA with Avalonia previously accreted onto Laurussia (Baltica) occurred at ~ 400MA with the final closure of the NW extent of the Rheic Ocean;
  • During the Devonian there was widespread strike-slip movement between ATA and Palaeo-Adria to the east possibly as consequence of east verging oblique subduction of the Saxo-Thuringian Ocean;
  • In the Early Emsian, the Rheic mid-ocean ridge was subducted southwards under the northernmost part of the ATA (Franconia), creat­ing the short-lived Baja California-type Rheno-Hercynian Ocean which incorporated the former back-arc basin sediments
  • The northward and lateral movements of Gondwana saw the successive closure of the Galicia-Moldanubian, Saxo-Thuringian and Rheic Oceans from south to north, over the period from about 380Ma through the Early carboniferous

Carboniferous and Permian

  • Laurussia and Gondwana finally collided at around 320MA to form the super-continent Pangea
  • Prior to this collision there was significant dextral strike-slip movement between Laurussia and Gondwana
  • Post collision, the Amorican terranes returned to roughly the same location prior to their separation more than 100 million years earlier;
  • This collision produced a very extensive orogen extending from the Ouachita and the Alleghanian Orogenies in North America through the Variscan of Western Europe;
  • Continued shortening into the Late Carboniferous saw dextral strike-slip faulting along the SW margin of Baltica and clockwise rotation of the Bohemian Arc into its current location
  • This orogenesis extended from the Carboniferous into the Middle Permian with collisional shortening of more than 1,000 km.

Abstract

Geological evidence, supported by biogeographical data and in accord with palaeomagnetic constraints, indicates that “one ocean” models for the Variscides should be discarded, and confirms, instead, the existence of three Gondwana-derived microcontinents which were involved in the Variscan collision: Avalonia, North Armorica (Franconia and Thuringia subdivided by a failed Vesser Rift), and South Armorica (Central Iberia/Armorica/ Bohemia), all divided by small oceans. In addition, parts of south-eastern Europe, including Adria and Apulia, are combined here under the new name of Palaeo-Adria, which was also Peri-Gondwanan in the Early Palaeozoic. Oceanic separations were formed by the break-up of the northern Gondwana margin from the Late Cambrian onwards. Most of the oceans or seaways remained narrow, but – much like the Alpine Cenozoic oceans – gave birth to orogenic belts with HP-UHP metamorphism and extensive allochthons: the Saxo-Thuringian Ocean be­tween North and South Armorica and the Galicia-Moldanubian Ocean between South Armorica and Palaeo-Adria. Only the Rheic Ocean between Avalonia and peri-Gondwana was wide enough to be unambiguously recorded by biogeography and palaeomagnetism, and its north-western arm closed before or during the Emsian in Europe. Ridge subduction under the northernmost part of Armorica in the Emsian created the narrow and short-lived Rheno-Hercynian Ocean. It is that ocean (and not the Rheic) whose opening and closure controlled the evolution of the Rheno-Hercynian fold-belt in south-west Iberia, south-west England, Germany, and Moravia (Czech Republic). Devonian magmatism and sedimentation set within belts of Early Variscan deformation and metamor­phism are probably strike-slip-related. The first arrival of flysch on the forelands and/or the age of deformation of foreland sequences constrains the sequential closure of the Variscan seaways (Galicia-Moldanubian in the Givetian; Saxo-Thuringian in the Early Famennian; Rheno-Hercynian in the Tournaisian). Additional Mid- to Late Devonian and (partly) Early Carboniferous magmatism and extension in the Rheno-Hercynian, Saxo-Thuringian and Galicia-Moldanubian basins overlapped with Variscan geodynamics as strictly defined. The Early Carboniferous episode was the start of episodic anorogenic heating which lasted until the Permian and probably relates to Tethys rifting.

Gondwana Research 48 (2017) 257–284: Read Here

Fukishima Radiation Release – in Perspective

Fukushima Reactor-1 after the hydrogen explosion

There has been much written on Fukushima and sadly much of it is ill-informed and misleading.  Here we take estimates of radiation release from the most authoritative sources and calculate various radiation equivalents:

  1. Radiation release is listed in Peta 10^15 becquerels and becquerels.  You are naturally radioactive at 5kBq and a banana is about 150 Bq.
  2. Hiroshimas –  total radiation release in multiples of the radiation release from the Hiroshima fission blast (89 TBq)
  3. Mega-tonnes  – the mass of TNT equivalent in fission explosions required to produce the same amount of released radiation
  4. Radium  – the weight of Radium in tonnes required to produce the  same radiation release

A comparison using various metrics for the release of radiation from various accidents and weapons testing

Lieut Charles Louis Collin

Lieut Charles Louis Collin, aged 29, was a very promising young Queenslander when he was killed in France in September 1918. Prior to the war he was in the Department of Agriculture and upon taking up a military career was appointed ADC to General Lee, of the first and then the second military districts. He left for France and went through some severe fighting.

Lieut Charles Louis Collin, aged 29

Charles was of French descent although borne in Queensland. He was very popular with all who came in contact with him. He had a fine physique and was a strong swimmer and an enthusiastic oarsman, belonging to both Brisbane clubs at the time. He was an only son of Gustave and Alice.

Charles joined the 42nd Battalion, 3rd Division AIF in France 5th January 1918. He was wounded in action with a gunshot wound to the shoulder after his Battalion had secured the high ground to the east of Bray-Cambrai road above the village of Sailly-Laurette. He was repatriated to England, 8th April 1918 and after several months in hospital was transferred to an OS Training Brigade, 30th July 1918 ahead of transfer back to his unit on 12th August 1918. The entire allied front to the east of Amiens had advanced against German positions commencing on 8th August 1918. The 42nd Battalion advanced to a secure position at the top of the slope above a steep gully along Rue de l’Eglise by the evening of 29th August 1918 and dug in.

Over the next several days the 3rd division participated in heavy fighting to secure the heavily defended position of Mont Saint-Quentin and Peronne. The 42nd Battalion and other units pushing along the ridge towards their immediate objective – the high ground above Moslains. The 42nd advanced towards the ridgeline south of Bouchavesnes after a thin barrage. Some of the 42nd sighted three German field batteries to the SE and Lewis gunners shot down one and captured five guns. The pause allowed the Germans to rally to the Scutari and Boussa trenches to the east. To the south the 41st Battalion experienced the fiercest fire it ever experienced loosing 5 officers and 100 men.

Charles in command of D Company advanced upslope into the Quarry Farm area to face a German garrison on the high ground of 80 men and 8 machine guns who quickly gave in when outflanked to south and bombarded by rifle grenades. After taking the position Charles come to confer with the Officer Commanding D Company during the advance and when he got off his knees to go was hit by machine gun fire from the NE. He died within a few minutes.

Initially buried where he fell. 49°58’6.55″N 2°56’39.36″E. While I stood there on the Somme on a bright sunny day in 2013 and spoke with my mother she informed me that my middle name was in his honour.  She had forgotten to tell me of that until that very moment. 

COLLIN Charles Louis Lt Sea Transport Svc Adjt A28 to Hon/Lt CCo/42Bn WIA 5-4-18 shoulder near Albert F&B reported shot by MG at Quarry Farm near Peronne buried Sailly-Saillisel British Cemetery France (Prov 2/Lt ASqn/2 LH 1-10-15 to staff 2 MD ADC to Maj Gen George Lee in Brisbane 1916-17 CMF) KIA 1-9-18

“A very intelligent and precise man”

He remains greatly missed by his family.

Collin, Charles Louis Headstone

The Truth About Jet Lag

Courtesy of Boeing, the interior of the Boeing Dreamliner

Richard A. Friedman  Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Director of the Psychopharmacology Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine recently wrote an excellent article in The New York Times about the joys of jet lag – and what to do about it. If this does not effect you – then you are not flying between time zones.

In Summary: Travel east and you’ll need morning light and evening melatonin; go west and you’ll need evening light and morning melatonin.

“There’s a psychiatric hospital not far from Heathrow Airport that is known for treating bipolar and schizophrenic travelers, some of whom are occasionally found wandering aimlessly through the terminals. A study (see below) from the 1980s of 186 of those patients found that those who’d traveled from the west had a higher incidence of mania, while those who’d traveled from the east had a higher incidence of depression.”

“Clinicians have long known that there is a strong link between sleep, sunlight and mood. Problems sleeping are often a warning sign or a cause of impending depression, and can make people with bipolar disorder manic. Some 15 years ago, Dr. Francesco Benedetti, a psychiatrist in Milan, and colleagues noticed (see below) that hospitalized bipolar patients who were assigned to rooms with views of the east were discharged earlier than those with rooms facing the west — presumably because the early morning light had an antidepressant effect”.

Supporting Research: Morning sunlight reduces length of hospitalization in bipolar depression.

BACKGROUND:

Bright artificial light improves non-seasonal depression. Preliminary observations suggest that sunlight could share this effect.

METHODS:

Length of hospitalization was recorded for a sample of 415 unipolar and 187 bipolar depressed inpatients, assigned to rooms with eastern (E) or western (W) windows.

RESULTS:

Bipolar inpatients in E rooms (exposed to direct sunlight in the morning) had a mean 3.67-day shorter hospital stay than patients in W rooms. No effect was found in unipolar inpatients.

“When you quickly cross several time zones, your circadian rhythm remains stuck in the city you left behind. Arriving in Rome with your New York City brain is what produces the unpleasant symptoms of jet lag: fatigue, malaise, poor concentration and mood changes. When you leave New York at 6 p.m., the Italians are probably in bed asleep. But you won’t feel ready for sleep until around 11. To make the right adjustment, you need to shift your internal clock earlier by six hours”.

“The clock in your brain doesn’t just take cues from light, but from the hormone melatonin as well. Every night, about two to three hours before you conk out, your brain starts to secrete melatonin in response to darkness. Taking a melatonin supplement in the evening will advance your internal clock and make it possible to fall asleep earlier; taking it in the morning will do the opposite. (You might assume this would make you even more tired during the day but it won’t; you could think of it as tricking your brain into believing you slept longer.)”

Next time you travel:

  • Flyin East: Get morning sunshine and take melatonin in the evening
  • Flying West: Get evening light and take melatonin in the morning

But what about those patients in the Heathrow hospital, that was more than just the usual jet lag or are they just end members of the inability of our body to cope with the chemical imbalances that result. Friedman suggests there is more to jet-lag than simply exhaustion, it deeply effects our state of mind but in a systematic manner. While most of you wont suffer from pathological psychiatric disorders when you fly maybe we all suffer from minor psychological issues when we cross time zones. The most obvious may be mild depression. There is a strong suggestion that travelling to the west is simply depressing. So next time you travel try the medication, sunlight and take a few days off work ideally by the sea. PS The sleeping pills wont help the underlying issue at all but sunlight and melatonin just might.

ICSID Issues Decision in Favor of Antofagasta plc and Barrick in Reko Diq Arbitration Proceedings

The arid Reko Diq region

Exciting news for Barrick and Antofagasta, after years of frustration. B&A reportedly spent US$500 million on this project and were refused a mining lease and licence to operate by the Government of Baluchistan. Compensation for loss is going to be a most interesting hearing. This is a remarkably robust project and a very long lived mine. This is why we offered B&A US$200 million a few years ago in an attempt to resolve the matter – Good for them they they stuck out the challenge of arbitration.

TORONTO, March 21, 2017 — Barrick Gold Corporation (NYSE:ABX)(TSX:ABX) (“Barrick” or the “Company”) announced that an arbitration tribunal of the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) yesterday issued a decision on the arbitration claims that Tethyan Copper Company Pty Limited (“TCC”), a joint venture between Antofagasta plc and Barrick, filed against the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in relation to the unlawful denial of a mining lease for the Reko Diq project in 2011.

Yesterday’s decision by the ICSID tribunal rejected Pakistan’s final defense against liability, and confirmed that Pakistan had violated several provisions of its bilateral investment treaty with Australia, where TCC is incorporated.

The damages phase of the proceedings will begin on March 22, during which the tribunal will consider submissions from the parties to determine the amount that Pakistan must pay TCC. A ruling on the quantum of damages is expected in 2018.

The Reko Diq project, located in the Balochistan province of Pakistan, was expected to require an initial capital investment of more than $3 billion. It is one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper and gold deposits, with a potential mine life of more than 50 years.

Commentary

Mineralisation in the Reko Diq area

Reko Diq is a large (10×10 km) volcano-magmatic complex located in the western Chagai magmatic belt in Pakistan. Over 48 porphyry Cu-Au centres are recognized in the Chagai belt. Twenty of them, including the world-class H14-H15 cluster, are located in the Reko Diq district. These deposits are largely associated with four consecutive episodes of magmatism during the Miocene. The porphyry centres are characterized by stocks and dyke swarms of diorite, quartz diorite and granodiorite composition. The deposits offer no technological development challenges. Reko Diq is located 50 kilometres to the east of the 300 million tonne Saindak porphyry copper gold deposit being operated by Metallurgical Corporation of China since 2002 under a lease agreement with the Government of Pakistan.

Deposit Geology

The Reko Diq porphyry district hosts a cluster of 20 Cu-Au porphyry centres in an area approximately 10×10 km bounded by the NW trending fault systems of Drana Koh in the north and Tuzgi Koh in the south.

The underlying volcano-sedimentary rocks at Reko Diq consist of thin-bedded shale, siltstone, shallow marine to fluviatile sandstone and minor discontinuous conglomerate and lava flow of the late Oligocene Dalbandin and Eocene Saindak Formations. The porphyry Cu-Au centres at Reko Diq are spatially and genetically associated with early to late Miocene calc-alkaline diorite, quartz diorite and granodiorite intrusions.

Hydrothermal alteration at Reko Diq is typical of porphyry Cu deposits. The porphyry centres at H14-H15 are characterized by a central potassic zone surrounded by phyllic (quartz-sericite-pyrite) and outer propylitic (chlorite-epidote) alteration. The main ore stage (chalcopyrite±bornite) mineralization is generally disseminated in host the porphyries and occurs in veinlets with a total sulphide content of 2-3 vol. percent. The chalcopyrite to pyrite ratio decreases at shallow levels. A distinct late stage pyrite+chacopyrite±molybdenite assemblage associated with D-veins is common in most of the porphyry systems at Reko Diq. The bornite to chalcopyrite ratio increases with the intensity of potassic alteration and magnetite content, which gives rise to higher Cu-Au grades (0.8% Cu; 0.6 g/t Au) in the deep central part of the deposits. A high sulfidation type assemblage of covellite+bornite+pyrite in association with quartz+sericite±kaolinite alteration is identified mainly in the sandstone and conglomerate units of the H15 system. Overall, a metal zoning from Cu-Au at the center and depth with potassic alteration and increasing Mo in the margins and upper parts of the porphyry system at H14-H15, can be defined.

The supergene oxidation is commonly very weak in the district with leached zone of less than a few meters. The only supergene enriched Cu blanket at Reko Diq is preserved in the central Tanjeel porphyry Cu deposit in which an irregular, 50 to 100m-thick chalcocite blanket, is developed beneath a 40-50m-thick leached cap dominated by jarosite and local hematite. The chalcocite blanket (0.5-1.0% Cu) has a gradational lower contact with low grade hypogene Cu-Fe-sulfide mineralization at depth.

Exploration History

Regional exploration for porphyry copper mineralization was initiated in 1993, when BHP Minerals signed a joint venture mineral exploration agreement with the Baluchistan Development Authority, over an area of 13,000 km2. Following an orientation survey over the Saindak deposit, regional geochemical exploration using −80 mesh and the bulk leachable gold (BLEG) method was conducted from 1993 to 1995, with the collection of approximately 5,000 samples. Sixteen anomalous areas were defined and follow-up work, including geologic mapping and standard rock geochemistry, was carried out over them. This work delineated 14 prospective areas, of which Reko Diq, Ziarat Pir Sultan, Ting-Dargun, Kirtaka, Machi, Dasht-e-Kain, Koh-i-Sultan, Durban Chah, and Ganshero were judged to be the most promising. Additional mapping, rock geochemistry, and ground magnetics were completed from 1996 to 1998, followed by 20,000 m of reverse circulation and core drilling. This program resulted in the discovery of the Reko Diq porphyry copper cluster, including the supergene enrichment blanket at Tanjeel (originally named H4) and the nearby hypogene copper-gold deposits at H14-H15 (also referred to as Western Porphyries), H8, and H13.

Geophysical surveys, both induced polarization and magnetics, were completed over them. These and other targets were drilled in several short programs during 2003 to 2006, for a total of approximately 48,000 m, including 24,000 m of infill drilling at Tanjeel. The new resource for Tanjeel, announced in late 2006, was 126 million metric tons (Mt) at 0.7 percent Cu, all leachable supergene-enriched sulfides. In 2006, a joint venture between Antofagasta Minerals S.A. and Barrick Gold Corp. acquired 100 percent of Tethyan Copper Company and its 75 percent interest in the Reko Diq and regional licenses and initiated an aggressive infill drilling program and scoping study at H14-H15. Resource drilling during 2006 to 2009 at Reko Diq totaled approximately 136,000 m resulting in completion of a feasibility study during 2010 for a 110,000 tonne per day operation producing copper-gold concentrate for export.

Reserves and Resources

Reko Diq is one of the largest known undeveloped copper-gold porphyries with resources of 5.9 billion tonnes at 0.41% copper and 0.22 g/t gold for 54 billion pounds of copper and 42 million ounces of gold. Within this resource is a high grade zone with 400 million tonnes at 0.9% copper and 0.6 g/t gold and a supergene resource at Tanjeel of 214 million tonnes at 0.6% copper. Significant potential exists within the Reko Diq porphyry cluster for expansion of this resource and a number of targets remain only lightly explored.

Reko diq resources – a very significant deposit

Planned Development

The planned development included a conventional open pit mining operation utilizing hydraulic face shovels and trucks feeding a conventional concentrator utilizing industry standard crushing, grinding and flotation. Tailings will be deposited in a engineered TMF.

Location of the Reko diq deposit and infrastructure – or lack therof

Power will be provided by a purpose-built 190 MW power station adjacent to the mill faculty.

The Reko Diq deposit produces a clean high grade concentrate with 28-31% copper and 7-22 g/t gold. Concentrate at a 52% pulp density will be pumped via a 682 km buried slurry pipeline to the port of Gwadar presently being redeveloped by a Chinese company.

At Gwadar Port a de-watering facility using high pressure filters will produce a concentrate with 7.5% water, which will be conveyed to a portside warehouse. A conveyor and ship loader will also be constructed.

Project Cashflow Analysis

Cmi Capital constructed a cashflow model based upon available information with costs from comparable recent projects. Two models were evaluated, a base case model with an open pit mine and conventional mill treating 120,000 tonnes per day (TPD) and an expanded model with a production rate of 200,000 TPD after year 5. These models with mine lives of 30 years consume only 21% to 33% respectively of the existing resource. In addition there is potential for the exploitation of higher grades in the early years, the discovery of additional reserves and the addition of a dump leach SXEW facility to treat the large Tanjeel supergene copper deposit (240 Mt at 0.6% leachable copper).

This analysis (with the cashflow models limited to 30 years) indicates that Reko Diq is an economically robust, long life project as can be seen below (metal prices used were a few years ago).

  • Copper Production: 162,000 to 257,000 TPY
  • Gold Production: 260KOz to 408kOz PA
  • NPV (08): US$2 to 3.4 billion (at long term metal pricing)
  • IRR: 15% to 17%

An outstanding project that has potential to significantly improve the outcomes for the peoples of Baluchistan and bring much needed development to a very challenging part of the country.

Solar Activity remains subdued – with the chance of a C-Class Flare. Surface Temp remain at 5778K – largely unchanged for the last 100 Million Years.

Face of the sun 20170324 – Courtesy NASA and the SOHO Mission: https://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/sunspots/

“Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 22/2100Z to 23/2100Z: Solar activity has been at very low levels for the past 24 hours. There are currently 1 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.
IB. Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be very low with a slight chance for a C-class flare on days one, two, and three (24 Mar, 25 Mar, 26 Mar)”

The continues to show little sunspot activity and is very quiet as we enter the solar minimum.

Sun Spot Number Progression during solar cycles 23 and 24 Courtesy NASA: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/solar-cycle-progression

 

Could we now be entering the period prior to the Maunder Minimum cold period

Solar Cycles 3 through 6 compared with Solar Cycles 23 through 24 Courtesy: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/03/05/how-long-to-the-2425-solar-minimum/

 

 

 

Solar  cycles 22 and 23 are show very similar trends to SC 03 and 04 which receded a 70 year period when there were no reported sunspots resulting in reduced insolation and a very cold period in northern europe.

A Garden in the Panygurishte

Roses in the Panygurishte

Roses and almost everything else grows  with abandon in the valleys of the Panygurishte.  This region is famous for the

Panygurishte Treasure

The Panagyurishte Treasure  is a Thracian treasure excavated on December 8, 1949, by three brothers who worked together at the region of “Merul” tile factory near the town of Panagyurishte, Bulgaria: Pavel, Petko, and Michail Deikov. It consists of a phiale, an amphora and seven rhytons with total weight of 6.164 kg of 24-karat gold. All of the objects are richly and skilfully decorated with scenes of Thracian myths, customs and life. It is dated from the 4th-3rd centuries BC, and is thought to have been used as a royal ceremonial set by the Thracian king Seuthes III. As one of the best known surviving artifacts of Thracian culture, the treasure has been displayed at various museums around the world. When not on a tour, the treasure is the centerpiece of the Thracian art collection of the National Museum of History in Sofia.  If for no other reason this is why you should visit Sofia, Bulgaria.  The treasure should be housed in the town of Panygurishte.

The World Around Us!