Sunday, January 29, 2017

Smelting is the primary industry when looking to metal production.

Metals when discovered are not pure. They have to be refined and the way that is done is through smelting. The term smelting is a general term and does not spell out the particular pollutants by particular processes of each metal. 

Mined ores are processed to concentrate the minerals of interest. (click here) In the case of metal ores, these mineral concentrates usually need to be further processed to separate the metal from other elements in the ore minerals. Smelting is the process of separating the metal from impurities by heating the concentrate to a high temperature to cause the metal to melt. Smelting the concentrate produces a metal or a high-grade metallic mixture along with a solid waste product called slag.

The principal sources of pollution caused by smelting are contaminant-laden air emissions and process wastes such as wastewater and slag....

Understanding the smelting process is important to understanding the pollution. One has to realize metal is a component to infrastructure. It is not the metal production that is the focus, it is the pollution and the lack of will to end the pollution. 

Smelting metal takes a great deal of energy. That energy and how it is obtained for the process is important. But, the bottom line with metal production is that this is the year 2017 and the industry is till polluting.

I can only hope Dr. Ernest Moniz had the opportunity as Secretary of Energy to assess and offer opinion on improving the standards and infrastructure of metal production. All to often politicians will jump to conclusions about environmentalists and conservationists as people that want to stop all polluting industries. Well. Environmentalists and conservationists live in the world, too. The same world so many Americans live in. All that is demanded is the industry practice responsibility fir their employees and protection of the environment. It is the protection of the environment most often viewed as to much of a cost burden to pursue.

One of the amazing aspects of Dr. Moniz time at the Department of Energy is his approach to energy efficiency. Industries such as metal production uses a great deal of energy. The energy as well as the production itself can be equally as polluting. There are answers to ending pollution from such operations. It takes gifted people to solve those problems, but, there are answers.

These industries have CEOs that only see the bottom line through old methods of production when they could be making more money for stockholders by streamlining and cleaning up their pollution from both the energy they need and the production process.

I want to go into more detail about metal production from the ground level, so I will pursue same next week with an initial focus on what happens in mining to the transport of the rock.