Friday 21st October 2016

Resource Clips

Posts tagged ‘zinc’

Infographic: Eleven things every metal investor should know about zinc

October 20th, 2016

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | October 20, 2016

Certain commodities tend to fly under the radar for periods of time.

For example, it was only in the last couple of years that markets have been able to digest the potential impact of the electric vehicle boom and what it may mean for raw materials. The lithium, graphite and cobalt prices reacted accordingly, and suddenly these essential ingredients for lithium-ion batteries were hot commodities.

Another of those metals that comes and goes is zinc—and after shooting up in price over 35% this year, it definitely has the attention of many investors and speculators again.

Re-thinking zinc

Today’s infographic comes to us from Pistol Bay Mining, a company that also focuses on zinc, and it highlights 11 things that investors need to know about a metal that is gaining substantial momentum.

Eleven things every metal investor should know about zinc


Here’s why the metal is back in fashion:

1. Zinc is a $34-billion-per-year market.
It’s bigger than the silver ($18 billion), platinum ($8 billion) and molybdenum ($5 billion) markets combined. In fact, it is the fourth-most used metal worldwide.

2. Smelting and production technology came much later for zinc than for other metals.
The ancients were able to smelt copper, lead and iron, but it wasn’t until much later that people were able to work with zinc in any isolated state.

3. Even despite this, it was a crucial metal for ancient peoples.
They would smelt zinc-rich copper ores to make brass, which was used for many different purposes including weaponry, ornaments, coins and armour.

4. Zinc is also crucial to produce many alloys today.
For example, brass is used for musical instruments and hardware applications that must resist corrosion. Solder and nickel-silver are other important alloys.

5. The world’s first-ever battery used zinc as an anode.
The voltaic pile, made in 1799 by Alessandro Volta, used zinc and copper for electrodes with brine-soaked paper as an electrolyte.

6. The metal remains crucial for batteries today.
Zinc-air, silver-zinc, zinc-bromine and alkaline batteries all use zinc, and they enable everything from hearing aids to military applications to be possible.

7. Galvanizing is still the most important use.
About 50% of the metal is used in galvanizing, which is essentially a way to coat steel or iron so it doesn’t rust.

8. China is both a major producer and end-user.
China mined 37% of the world’s 13.4 million tonnes of zinc production in 2015. The country consumed 47% of the world’s supply that same year.

9. Major mines have been shutting down.
In 2016, China ordered the shutdown of 26 lead and zinc mines in parts of Hunan province for environmental reasons. Meanwhile, Ireland’s Lisheen mine and Australia’s Century mine both shut down last year after being depleted of resources. That takes 630,000 tonnes of annual production off the table.

10. Stockpiles are dwindling.
Warehouse levels are less than half of where they were in 2013.

11. Zinc has been one of the best performing metals in 2016 in terms of price.
It started the year around $0.70 a pound, but now trades for $1.04 a pound.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

October 19th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 19, 2016

Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

Pistol Bay’s holdings will cover a 31-kilometre length of the VMS-rich Confederation Lake greenstone belt.


A new acquisition would make Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST the biggest claimholder in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt. The 5,136-hectare package comprises all the regional claims held by AurCrest Gold TSXV:AGO and includes a zinc-copper-silver resource as well as an historic, non-43-101 estimate. Along with Pistol Bay’s optioned Dixie and Dixie 3 properties, the letter of intent announced October 19 would increase the company’s holdings to 7,050 hectares on the volcanogenic massive sulphide-rich belt.

With three cutoff grades, the package’s Arrow zone has resources showing:

3% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 2.07 million tonnes averaging 5.92% zinc, 0.75% copper, 21.1 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

  • inferred: 120,550 tonnes averaging 2.6% zinc, 0.56% copper, 18.6 g/t silver and 0.4 g/t gold

5% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 1.76 million tonnes averaging 6.75% zinc, 0.79% copper, 22.3 g/t silver and 0.61 g/t gold

  • inferred: 51,630 tonnes averaging 3.86% zinc, 0.79% copper, 23.9 g/t silver and 0.58 g/t gold

10% zinc-equivalent cutoff

  • indicated: 633,000 tonnes averaging 14.3% zinc, 1.11% copper, 31.7 g/t silver and 0.85 g/t gold
Pistol Bay Mining to take largest position in Ontario’s VMS-rich Confederation Lake

Pistol Bay’s Dixie properties have been
undergoing field work and a review of historic data.

Additionally, the Copperlode A or Fredart zone has an historic, non-43-101 estimate of 425,000 tonnes averaging 1.56% copper. Exploration in the 1970s produced samples up to 1.46% molybdenum.

The 100% option would cost $25,000 and one million shares on closing and $25,000 90 days later, as well as $50,000 and one million shares on each of the four anniversaries following closing. In addition to regulatory approvals, the transaction needs the consent of Glencore plc, whose rights to the Confederation Lake property include a 2% NSR.

The companies expect to close within a week.

“Pistol Bay proposes an ambitious exploration program that will not only pursue existing targets and known VMS deposits, but will use the latest airborne geophysical survey technologies to explore the whole area to a greater depth than was possible in the past,” said president Charles Desjardins.

Earlier this month the company announced MPH Consulting will review historic geophysical data on Pistol Bay’s Confederation Lake-region Dixie properties, where field work began in September. Historic drilling has found zinc, copper and silver, while the recently optioned Dixie 3 project comes with an historic, non-43-101 estimate of 82,500 tonnes averaging 1% copper and 10% zinc.

The company has a joint venture with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary on the C-5 uranium property in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Having already earned 75% of its option, Rio has stated its intention to acquire the full 100%.

Pistol Bay closed a $563,450 private placement last August.

Pushing the boundaries

October 12th, 2016

Technology opens new mining frontiers, sometimes challenging human endurance

by Greg Klein

This is the second of a two-part feature. See Part 1.

“Deep underground, deep sky and deep sea” comprise the lofty goals of Three Deep, a five-year program announced last month by China’s Ministry of Land and Resources. Part 1 of this feature looked at the country’s ambitions to take mineral exploration deeper than ever on land, at sea and into the heavens, and also outlined other countries’ space programs related to mineral exploration. Part 2 delves into undersea mining as well as some of the world’s deepest mines.

Looking to the ocean depths, undersea mining has had tangible success. De Beers has been scooping up alluvial diamonds off southwestern Africa for decades, although at shallow depths. Through NamDeb, a 50/50 JV with Namibia, a fleet of six boats mines the world’s largest-known placer diamond deposit, about 20 kilometres offshore and 150 metres deep.

Technology opens new mining frontiers, sometimes pushing human endurance

Workers at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng operation
must withstand the heat of deep underground mining.

Diamond Fields International TSXV:DFI hopes to return to its offshore Namibian claims, where the company extracted alluvial stones between 2005 and 2008. The company also holds a 50.1% interest in Atlantis II, a zinc-copper-silver deposit contained in Red Sea sediments. That project’s now on hold pending a dispute with the Saudi Arabian JV partner.

With deeper, more technologically advanced ambitions, Nautilus Minerals TSX:NUS holds a mining licence for its 85%-held Solwara 1 project in Papua New Guinea waters. A seafloor massive sulphide deposit at an average depth of 1,550 metres, its grades explain the company’s motivation. The project has a 2012 resource using a 2.6% copper-equivalent cutoff, with the Solwara 1 and 1 North areas showing:

  • indicated: 1.03 million tonnes averaging 7.2% copper, 5 g/t gold, 23 g/t silver and 0.4% zinc

  • inferred: 1.54 million tonnes averaging 8.1% copper, 6.4 g/t gold, 34 g/t silver and 0.9% zinc

Using the same cutoff, the Solwara 12 zone shows:

  • inferred: 2.3 million tonnes averaging 7.3% copper, 3.6 g/t gold, 56 g/t silver and 3.6% zinc
Technology opens new mining frontiers, sometimes pushing human endurance

This Nautilus diagram illustrates
the proposed Solwara operation.

A company video shows how Nautilus had hoped to operate “the world’s first commercial high-grade seafloor copper-gold mine” beginning in 2018 using existing technology from land-based mining and offshore oil and gas. Now, should financial restructuring succeed, Nautilus says it could begin deployment and testing by the end of Q1 2019.

Last May Nautilus released a resource update for the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone in the central Pacific waters of Tonga.

Another deep-sea hopeful, Ocean Minerals last month received approval from the Cook Islands to explore a 12,000-square-kilometre seabed expanse for rare earths in sediments.

A pioneer in undersea exploration, Japan’s getting ready for the next step, according to Bloomberg. A consortium including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal will begin pilot mining in Chinese-contested waters off Okinawa next April, the news agency stated. “Japan has confirmed the deposit has about 7.4 million tons of ore,” Bloomberg added, without specifying what kind of ore.

Scientists are analyzing data from the central Indian Ocean where nodules show signs of copper, nickel and manganese, the Times of India reported in January. The country has a remotely operated vehicle capable of an unusually deep 6,000 metres and is working on undersea mining technology.

In August the World Nuclear News stated Russia is considering a nuclear-powered submarine to explore northern seas for mineral deposits. A government report said the sub’s R&D could put the project on par with the country’s space industry, the WNN added.

If one project alone could justify China’s undersea ambitions, it might be a 470.47-ton gold deposit announced last November. Lying at 2,000 metres’ depth off northern China, the bounty was delineated by 1,000 workers and 120 kilometres of drilling from 67 sea platforms over three years, the People’s Daily reported. Laizhou Rehi Mining hopes to extract the stuff, according to China Daily.

China’s deep underground ambitions might bring innovation to exploration but have been long preceded by actual mining in South Africa—although not without problems, as the country’s deplorable safety record shows. Greater depths bring greater threats from rockfalls and mini-earthquakes.

At 3.9 kilometres’ depth AngloGold Ashanti’s (NYSE:AU) Mponeng holds status as the world’s deepest mine. Five other mines within 50 kilometres of Johannesburg work from at least three kilometres’ depth, where “rock temperatures can reach 60 degrees Celsius, enough to fry an egg,” according to a Bloomberg article posted by

In his 2013 book Gold: The Race for the World’s Most Seductive Metal, Matthew Hart recounts a visit to Mponeng, where he’s told a “seismic event” shakes the mine 600 times a month.

Sometimes the quakes cause rockbursts, when rock explodes into a mining cavity and mows men down with a deadly spray of jagged rock. Sometimes a tremor causes a “fall of ground”—the term for a collapse. Some of the rockbursts had been so powerful that other countries, detecting the seismic signature, had suspected South Africa of testing a nuclear bomb.

AngloGold subjects job-seekers to a heat-endurance test, Hart explains.

In a special chamber, applicants perform step exercises while technicians monitor them. The test chamber is kept at a “wet” temperature of eighty-two degrees. The high humidity makes it feel like ninety-six. “We are trying to force the body’s thermoregulatory system to kick in,” said Zahan Eloff, an occupational health physician. “If your body cools itself efficiently, you are safe to go underground for a fourteen-day trial, and if that goes well, cleared to work.”

Clearly there’s more than technological challenges to mining the deeps.

By the way, credit for the world’s deepest drilling goes to Russia, which spent 24 years sinking the Kola Superdeep Bore Hole to 12,261 metres, halfway to the mantle. Work was halted by temperatures of 180 degrees Celsius.

This is the second of a two-part feature. See Part 1.

MPH Consulting to review Ontario zinc-copper-silver data prior to Pistol Bay’s drill program

October 6th, 2016

by Greg Klein | October 6, 2016

A company with experience spanning 40 years and 70 countries will apply its expertise to Pistol Bay Mining’s (TSXV:PST) Dixie projects. MPH Consulting has been contracted to review historic geophysical data from the zinc-copper-silver options about 35 kilometres southeast of Red Lake in Ontario’s Confederation Lake greenstone belt, Pistol Bay announced October 5.

MPH Consulting to review Ontario zinc-copper-silver data prior to Pistol Bay’s drilling

“Because of the complexity of the historic data, the company has requested a critical review of all the past geophysical surveys that will lead to prioritizing targets for future exploratory drilling,” Pistol Bay stated.

Historic work found a geophysical anomaly below the Dixie 19 zone. Two holes from 2002 ended before the anomaly, intersecting:

  • 9.71% zinc, 0.2% copper and 10.7 g/t silver over 1.25 metres in downhole depth

  • 5.32% zinc over 1.25 metres

Historic drilling on other zones found:

Dixie 17

  • 7.34% zinc and 1.4% copper over 9.5 metres

Dixie 18

  • 15.44% zinc, 0.43% copper and 20.9 g/t silver over 4.3 metres

Noranda calculated an historic, non-43-101 estimate for Dixie 18 of 136,000 tonnes averaging 14% zinc.

Recent field work has located historic drill hole collars on Dixie 18, 19 and 20, Pistol Bay added. Additional field work will focus on Dixie 17. Precise positioning using differential GPS will help model the mineralized zones.

Should all go to plan, a fall drill program will follow the MPH review.

Early last month Pistol Bay announced an option to acquire the 640-hectare Dixie 3 property, about eight kilometres south of the other Dixies. Dixie 3 comes with an historic, non-43-101 estimate of 82,500 tonnes averaging 1% copper and 10% zinc.

In Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin, Pistol Bay JVs with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary on the C-5 uranium property. Rio has so far earned 75% of its option and has stated its intention to acquire the full 100%.

In August Pistol Bay closed a $563,450 private placement.

Casino, Selwyn Chihong sign MOU to power Yukon/NWT projects with B.C. LNG

September 21st, 2016

by Greg Klein | September 21, 2016

Liquefied natural gas would be the fuel of choice to electrify two potential northern mines, according to a memorandum of understanding announced September 21. Casino Mining and Selwyn Chihong Mining said the proposed deal with Ferus Natural Gas Fuels would cut costs as well as CO2 emissions.

Casino, Selwyn Chihong sign MOU to power Yukon projects with B.C. LNG

LNG could overcome diesel dependency
in grid-less regions of the North.

Through its subsidiary, Western Copper and Gold TSX:WRN has the Casino gold-copper-molybdenum project undergoing environmental assessment. Selwyn Chihong’s Selwyn zinc-lead project currently moves towards pre-feasibility.

The plan would have Ferus build an LNG plant at Fort Nelson, in northeastern British Columbia’s Peace River oil and gas region. Ferus built and operates Canada’s first merchant LNG plant in northwestern Alberta. A related company, Eagle LNG Partners, has an LNG plant under construction in Florida. Ferus stated it provides LNG and compressed natural gas fuelling services including liquefaction, compression, storage and delivery to the oil and gas, mining, marine, rail and power generation sectors.

The plan “may also benefit neighbouring mines, industries and communities currently powered by diesel, by making the LNG more broadly available,” commented Ferus president/CEO Dick Brown.

“Neighbouring” might cover a lot of ground. Casino’s located in west-central Yukon. Selwyn straddles the Yukon/Northwest Territories border.

But for the time being the Coffee gold project, Yukon’s likeliest new mine and located only about 30 kilometres northwest of Casino, sticks to a diesel-fuelled plan. Low diesel costs ruled out “the additional $1.5-million capital expense associated with LNG storage and vaporization,” according to last January’s feasibility study. “If in the future diesel fuel costs increase, significant power generation cost savings may be realized by substituting LNG for diesel.”

Goldcorp TSX:G subsidiary Kaminak Gold hopes to begin Coffee construction in mid-2018.

Backers of the Fort Nelson proposal anticipate two phases of development to be commissioned in 2020 and 2022.

Pistol Bay readies geophysics, fall drilling for Ontario zinc and copper

September 8th, 2016

by Greg Klein | September 8, 2016

With field work about to begin, Pistol Bay Mining TSXV:PST renews the search for zinc and other base metals on its newly expanded Dixie projects in Ontario’s Red Lake region. Historic geophysics and drilling found multiple occurrences of predominantly zinc-rich, volcanogenic massive sulphide mineralization and two historic, non-43-101 estimates for near-surface deposits, the company stated.

An historic, non-43-101 estimate for the Dixie 3 zone, for example, showed 82,500 tonnes averaging 10% zinc and 1% copper.

Pistol Bay readying geophysics, fall drilling for Ontario zinc and copper

Subject to permitting, the company plans line cutting, ground geophysics, stripping and a fall/winter drill program on shallow targets that have yet to be adequately tested. Work could also entail additional deep-penetrating electromagnetic surveys.

A review of previous exploration will include locating drill collars, where possible, to model mineralized zones. Work might also entail downhole EM surveys to search for deeper mineralization. Historic core will be assessed, as well as new rock samples.

Last week Pistol Bay announced an option to add the 640-hectare Dixie 3 property to its other Dixie projects about eight kilometres away. The properties sit within the Confederation Lake greenstone belt, host to numerous VMS occurrences and deposits, the company added.

In a JV with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary, Pistol Bay holds the C-5 uranium property in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin. Having so far earned 75% of its option, Rio has stated its intention to acquire the full 100%.

On August 29 Pistol Bay closed a $563,450 private placement.

Pistol Bay benefits from previous work by expanding its Dixie zinc-copper project

September 1st, 2016

by Greg Klein | September 1, 2016

An option announced September 1 would add 640 hectares to Pistol Bay Mining’s (TSXV:PST) zinc-copper claims in Ontario’s Red Lake mining district. Formerly known as the Snake Falls property, Dixie 3 sits eight kilometres from the company’s Dixie 17, 18 and 19 properties. All four host mineralized zones and reside within the Confederation Lake greenstone belt, home to several volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits. The four Dixies now total 1,712 hectares, roughly 35 to 45 kilometres southeast of the town of Red Lake.

Pistol Bay benefits from previous work by expanding its Dixie zinc-copper project

Past exploration on Dixie 3 included 80 drill holes, finding a number of mineralized zones including the Dixie 3 VMS zone. Some historic intervals from the property include:

  • 1.1% zinc and 0.08% copper over 30.5 metres in downhole depth

  • 0.95% zinc over 18.4 metres

  • 0.5% zinc and 0.04% copper over 28 metres
  • (including 1.9% zinc and 0.11% copper over 5.2 metres)

  • 0.57% zinc and 0.05% copper over 24 metres

A notable intercept from Dixie 17 found 7.34% zinc and 1.4% copper over 9.5 metres. The Dixie 18 mineralized zone has been drilled to 250 metres in length and 150 metres in depth. The Dixie 19 zone has been tested over a length of 500 metres, with intervals up to 6.33% zinc and 1.5% copper over 3.55 metres.

Pistol Bay intends to compile Dixie 3’s historic drilling and geophysical data. Future work could include additional deep-penetration surveys, as well as drilling new targets and possible extensions of mineralized zones. The property can be reached by all-weather forestry access roads.

Dixie 3 comes with a price tag of $56,000 and 2.4 million shares over three years. NSR royalties totalling 1% apply.

In Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin, Pistol Bay holds the C-5 uranium property, a JV with a Rio Tinto NYSE:RIO subsidiary which has so far earned 75% of its 100% option.

Earlier this week Pistol Bay closed a private placement of $563,450.

Visual Capitalist: The history of British Columbia’s Golden Triangle

July 7th, 2016

posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | July 7, 2016

In a hidden corner of northwestern Canada lies some of the world’s most significant mineral potential. Billions of dollars of undiscovered gold, silver and copper still sit within an unexplored area that was once remote. However, only now can these world-class deposits be finally tapped. Skeena Resources TSXV:SKE has helped Visual Capitalist to put together the story of the famed Golden Triangle.

The history of the Golden Triangle

Even before Canada was officially a country, the area now known as the Golden Triangle was a hub for prospectors looking to strike it rich.

In 1861, Alexander “Buck” Choquette struck gold at the confluence of the Stikine and Anuk rivers, kickstarting the Stikine Gold Rush. More than 800 prospectors left Victoria to go to the Stikine in search of gold.

A few short years later, an even more significant rush would occur just to the north in the Cassiar region—it’s where British Columbia’s biggest ever gold nugget, weighing in at 73 ounces, would be found. The Atlin Gold Rush, an offshoot of the world-famous Klondike Gold Rush, would also occur just north of the Triangle.

The first discoveries

The companies that first worked in the Golden Triangle balanced its richness against the costs of its remote location.

Premier gold mine

The first big discovery in the Golden Triangle was at the Premier gold mine, which started operations in 1918. The company that first owned it, Premier Gold Mining Company, returned as much as 200% on the stock market between 1921 and 1923. At the time the Christian Science Monitor called it “one of the greatest silver and gold mines in the world.”

Snip mine

Discovered in 1964 by Cominco, the deposit stayed dormant until 1986, when it was drilled in a joint venture with Delaware Resources. Murray Pezim’s Prime Resources bought out Delaware after the stock ran from a dollar to $28 a share.

The high-grade Snip mine produced approximately one million ounces of gold from 1991 until 1999 at an average gold grade of 27.5 gams per tonne.

Eskay Creek

In 1988, after 109 drill holes, tiny exploration companies Stikine Resources and Calpine Resources finally hit the hole they needed at Eskay Creek with grades as high as 27.2 g/t and 30.2 g/t gold.

Eskay would go on to become Canada’s highest-grade gold mine and the world’s fifth-largest silver producer, with production well in excess of three million ounces of gold and 160 million ounces of silver.


  • Gold: 49 g/t
  • Silver: 2,406 g/t
  • Lead: 3.2%
  • Zinc: 5.2%

By the time all was said and done, the stock price of Stikine Resources would go from $1 to $67, after it was bought by International Corona.

Why did these three rich mines shut down?

Despite the gold in the Triangle being extremely high grade, lower gold prices in the late ’90s made the economics challenging. Meanwhile, the lack of infrastructure in this remote area meant that power, labour and logistics costs were sky high.

Both of these things have changed today, and activity at the Golden Triangle is now fast and furious.

Gaining access to the Triangle

The Golden Triangle is a hot area for exploration again. This is for three main reasons: higher gold prices, new infrastructure and modern discoveries.

Higher gold prices

Average gold price (1999): $279 (adjusted for inflation: $398)
Average gold price (2016): $1,202

Gold prices are more than three times as high today, even after adjusting for inflation. Combined with the Golden Triangle’s high grades, this becomes even more attractive.

New infrastructure

Today, road access to the area is easier than ever and a new transmission line will dramatically reduce the cost of power for companies operating in the Triangle.

Recent improvements:

  • Completion of a $700-million high-voltage transmission line to the Golden Triangle. The Northwest Transmission Line goes 335 kilometres from Terrace to Bob Quinn Lake and north to the Red Chris mine

  • Paving of the Stewart-Cassiar highway north from Smithers (Highway 37)

  • Opening of ocean port facilities for export of concentrate in Stewart

  • Completion of a three-dam, 277 MW hydroelectric facility located 70 kilometres northwest of Stewart

Modern discoveries

The next gold rush at the Golden Triangle has already started. Just some of the new discoveries in the area include Seabridge Gold’s (TSX:SEA) KSM project, Pretium Resources’ (TSX:PVG) Valley of the Kings deposit and Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) Red Chris mine.

Yet despite this track record of new discoveries and mines being built in the area, a B.C. government report estimates that only 0.0006% of the Golden Triangle has been mined to date.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

Battery infographic series Part 1: The evolution of battery technology

June 22nd, 2016

by Jeff Desjardins | posted with permission of Visual Capitalist | June 22, 2016

The battery series will present five infographics to inform investors how batteries work, the players in the market, the materials needed to build batteries and how future battery developments may affect the world. This is Part 1, which looks at the basics of batteries and the history of battery technology.


Battery infographic series part 1 The evolution of battery technology


Today, how we store energy is just as important as how we create it.

Battery technology already makes electric cars possible, as well as helping us store emergency power, fly satellites and use portable electronic devices. But tomorrow, could you be boarding a battery-powered airplane, or be living in a city powered at night by solar energy?

Battery basics

Batteries convert stored chemical energy directly into electrical energy. Batteries have three main components:

(-) Anode: The negative electrode that gets oxidized, releasing electrons.

(+) Cathode: The positive electrode that is reduced, by acquiring electrons.

Electrolyte: The medium that provides the ion transport mechanism between the cathode and anode of a cell. It can be liquid or solid.

At the most basic level, batteries are very simple. In fact, a primitive battery can even be made with a copper penny, galvanized nail (zinc) and a lemon or potato.

The evolution of battery technology

While creating a simple battery is quite easy, making a good battery is very difficult. Balancing power, weight, cost and other factors involves managing many trade-offs, and scientists have worked for hundreds of years to get to today’s level of efficiency.

Here’s a brief history of how batteries have changed over the years:

Voltaic pile (1799)

Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, in 1799, created the first electrical battery that could provide continuous electrical current to a circuit. The voltaic pile used zinc and copper for electrodes with brine-soaked paper for an electrolyte.

His invention disproved the common theory that electricity could only be created by living beings.

Daniell cell (1836)

About 40 years later, a British chemist named John Frederic Daniell would create a new cell that would solve the “hydrogen bubble” problem of the voltaic pile. This previous problem, in which bubbles collected on the bottom of the zinc electrodes, limited the pile’s lifespan and uses.

The Daniell cell, invented in 1836, used a copper pot filled with copper sulphate solution, which was further immersed in an earthenware container filled with sulphuric acid and a zinc electrode. The Daniell cell’s electrical potential became the basis unit for voltage, equal to one volt.

Lead-acid (1859)

The lead-acid battery was the first rechargeable battery, invented in 1859 by French physicist Gaston Planté.

Lead-acid batteries excel in two areas: they are very low-cost and they can also supply high surge currents. This makes them suitable for automobile starter motors even with today’s technology and it’s part of the reason $44.7 billion of lead-acid batteries were sold globally in 2014.

Nickel cadmium (1899)

Nickel cadmium batteries were invented in 1899 by Waldemar Jungner in Sweden. The first ones were “wet cells” similar to lead-acid batteries, using a liquid electrolyte.

Nickel cadmium batteries helped pave the way for modern technology but they are being used less and less because of cadmium’s toxicity. The batteries lost 80% of their market share in the 1990s to batteries that are more familiar to us today.

Alkaline batteries (1950s)

Popularized by brands like Duracell and Energizer, alkaline batteries are used in regular household devices from remote controls to flashlights. They are inexpensive and typically non-rechargeable, though they can be made rechargeable by using a specially designed cell.

The modern alkaline battery was invented by Canadian engineer Lewis Urry in the 1950s. Using zinc and manganese oxide in the electrodes, the battery type gets its name from the alkaline electrolyte used—potassium hydroxide.

Over 10 billion alkaline batteries have been made in the world.

Nickel-metal hydride (1989)

Similar to the rechargeable nickel cadmium battery, the nickel-metal hydride formulation uses a hydrogen-absorbing alloy instead of toxic cadmium. This makes it more environmentally safe—and it also helps increase the energy density.

Nickel-metal hydride batteries are used in power tools, digital cameras and some other electronic devices. They also were used in early hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Prius.

The development of nickel-metal hydride spanned two decades and was sponsored by Daimler-Benz and Volkswagen AG. The first commercially available cells were in 1989.

Lithium-ion (1991)

Sony released the first commercial lithium-ion battery in 1991.

Lithium-ion batteries have high energy density and a number of specific cathode formulations for different applications. For example, lithium cobalt dioxide (LiCoO2) cathodes are used in laptops and smartphones, while lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (LiNiCoAlO2) cathodes, also known as NCAs, are used in the batteries of vehicles such as the Tesla Model S.

Graphite is a common material for use in the anode and the electrolyte is most often a type of lithium salt suspended in an organic solvent.

The rechargeable battery spectrum

There are several factors that could affect battery choice, including cost. However, here are two of the most important factors that determine the fit and use of rechargeable batteries specifically:

Think of specific energy as the amount of water in a tank. It’s the amount of energy a battery holds in total. Meanwhile, specific power is the speed at which that water can pour out of the tank. It’s the amount of current a battery can supply for a given use.

And while today the lithium-ion battery is the workhorse for gadgets and electric vehicles, what batteries will be vital to our future? How big is that market? Find out in the rest of the battery series. Parts 2 through 5 will be released throughout the summer.

Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.

See Part 2 of the battery infographic series.

GTA sells Ivanhoe property to focus on Northshore gold

April 29th, 2016

by Greg Klein | April 29, 2016

An option on the Ivanhoe gold project passes from GTA Resources and Mining TSXV:GTA to Probe Metals TSXV:PRB, allowing GTA to concentrate on its Northshore flagship. Announced April 29, the deal costs Probe $234,000 and 350,000 shares, out of which GTA gets $134,000, 200,000 shares and a 1% NSR. GTA will issue 200,000 shares to the northern Ontario property’s original vendors. The acquisition increases Probe’s West Porcupine project by about 130 square kilometres, to total over 180 square kilometres.

GTA sells Ivanhoe property to focus on Northshore gold

That leaves GTA with a stronger focus on its Northshore gold property in the Hemlo greenstone belt, where the company has additional drilling planned. GTA holds a 51% interest in Northshore and acts as operator in a JV with Balmoral Resources TSX:BAR. GTA has been examining the potential for low-cost mining on a near-surface, high-grade area of the project’s Afric zone.

The Ivanhoe sale “allows GTA to recover much of its expenditures over the last two years while maintaining an upside by receiving shares of Probe, and by retaining an NSR on any future production,” commented president/CEO Wayne Reid. “The company can now concentrate its immediate efforts on evaluating the economics of the open pit potential of the Afric zone. We believe capital requirements would be minimal if contract mining, hauling and milling can be utilized.”

GTA also holds the Auden graphite project in central Ontario and the Burnt Pond copper-zinc project in Newfoundland.

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