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Palacios Jose-Luis, Alejandro Abadias, Alicia Valero, Antonio Valero, and Markus Reuter (2019)

The energy needed to concentrate minerals from common rocks: The case of copper ore

Energy, 181:494-503.

A way to assess today's mineral patrimony is to evaluate how much mining energy is saved today because of having concentrated mines instead of finding the minerals dispersed throughout the crust. This can be assessed through the so-called exergy replacement costs (ERC), which are a measure of the exergy required to extract and concentrate minerals from barerock. Previous studies evaluated such exergy using a theoretical approach. In this paper, from a mineral processing point-of-view through a model developed with HSC Chemistry 9.4.1, we calculated the energy needed to concentrate copper from common rocks at average crustal concentrations. In the model, current state-of-the-art technologies for copper concentration were considered. The results were then compared to the theoretical value obtained before for the ERC of copper and helped to update it. The updated ERC value is of one order of magnitude greater than the original one. This difference in magnitude enhances, even more, the issue of ore grade decline in terms of the associated spiraling energy required for mining. It also reveals the importance of valuing properly the mineral heritage of nations and the effort that should be placed for increasing secondary metal production.

Copper, Exergy replacement cost, Mining energy, Ore grade decline, Thanatia

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The Material Limits of Energy Transition: Thanatia

Antonio Valero Capilla, Alicia Valero Delgado and Guiomar Calvo

This book provides a holistic view of raw mineral depletion in the context of renewable energy transistion.

The material limits Thanatia


Thanatia. Los límites minerales del planeta

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 Antonio Valero Capilla and Alicia Valero Delgado interviewed by Adrián Almazán

We need a material transition, not only energetic, that restores nature and effectively reuses materials. Gaia must be cared for by extending life on Earth and slowing its degradation towards Thanatia.

Thanatia los limites


Thermodynamics for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources

Cover Thermodynamics

Wojciech Stanek (Editor)

This book examines ways of assessing the rational management of nonrenewable resources. Integrating numerous methods, it systematically exposes the strengths of exergy analysis in resources management.

Thanatia: The Destiny of the Earth's Mineral Resources

Cover Thanatia

A Thermodynamic Cradle-to-Cradle Assessment by (author): Antonio Valero Capilla and Alicia Valero Delgado

Is Gaia becoming Thanatia, a resource exhausted planet? For how long can our high-tech society be sustained in the light of declining mineral ore grades, heavy dependence on un-recycled critical metals and accelerated material dispersion? These are all root causes of future disruptions that need to be addressed today.