Critical Metal Potential Of The Tamar Valley Region, Southwest England Report Examples
For centuries, mining has been taking place in different parts of the world, from the shallow waters, deep waters and even on dry land. Some mining activities having been a result of natural happenings such as flooding, while others have been a result human activity, which leads to environmental degradation that in return leads to discovery of metals and minerals, such as soil erosion. However, for the existence of some minerals to be discovered, it was influenced by the human nature of curiosity or through scientific experiments. The Tamar Valley Region, North of Plymouth in Southwest England is one mining site. Mining waste, archeological interest, as well as a rich history, has been left behind and is quite visible at the mining site. Tamar Valley has been awarded Candidate for; Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Areas of Conservation (cSAC), UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) awards. The minerals in Tamar Valley have been decreasing significantly over the years. Some of the minerals actually no longer exist in the mines. If the trend continues, there will be no much of the Tamar Valley apart from the mines from the past that will be historical. However, the Tamar Valley can remain relevant by majoring their mining on the rare earth elements (lanthanides) in the place.
In the current day economy, metals make a great influence on the economy of a country or a state. They are natural resources that when discovered, are of a great advantage to an individual, an organization and the country as a whole. However, the metals are scarce, mining and refining of the same are also an expensive procedure. It makes the demand for the different metals high compared to the supply of the same. It therefore, in the long run, expensive to buy most of the metals (Rippon et al., 2009).
Aims of the study
The main aims of the study include investigating the distribution of critical metals in the Tamar Valley region, investigating the geological processes that are concentrating the metals of interest as well as investigating the best target localities for future detailed exploration.
Geological data is data that shows the distribution of different substances such as rocks and minerals. The Tamar Valley is renowned for its copper, tin and arsenic production.
Geochemical data is data that shows the composition of different substances. Different metals have different compositions, as well as different properties. Sediments in the area are enriched with copper (Cu), lead (Pb), Zinc (Zn) and arsenic (As). The metal traces are initially released in water, where they are then released into the sediment phase via a variety of methods that include; suspending particulate matter absorbs the metal traces and then sedimentation follows, or the metal traces, as particles, directly incorporate within the sediments. The table below shows the distribution of metals in the Tamar Valley (Ramsay, 2011).
Geophysical data refers to the description of the solar-terrestrial environment, solid earth, the solid earth and earth observations from space. The map below shows the different mining sites in the Tamar Valley. The catchment area is approximately 1700km2 (Ramsay, 2011).
Source: Finzgar et al., (2014,p135).
This paper explores the Tamar Valley is flanked by a vast intertidal flats marsh deposits. The site exhibits varying turbidity maxima whereby sediments may pile up to 15 km below the tip. The valley was the world major producer of copper during the middle of 19th century. A large number of mines have been on Tamar Valley but most ceased functioning following environmental conservation interventions (Wiatrowski & Barkay, 2006). This paper employs a case study, reviewing previous researches on sediment compositions between different time frames. The experimental reviews conducted focused on studies that utilized more than five samples collected from each to avoid chances of reworked samples and strand line debris. The elemental concentration of each sample was determined using the Perkin Elmer 3100 Absorption Spectrometer. The studies of interest included laboratory testing of the mineral composition of samples collected from various sites.
Results and observation
The studies supporting this analysis sought to determine standard deviation and means of every sample collected from a distance. This approach aimed at establishing the level of mental concentration at each point in relation to the standard levels. Most sites demonstrated a higher concentration of Zinc followed by copper, lead and asylum, in a decreasing order. The higher Zn concentration (about 325-400 ppm) and copper (210-290 ppm) were a typical observation of upper regions of the Valley, about 7 to 10 K. the remaining metals, As and Pb presented an almost similar pattern but different trend, but both had higher concentrations at the middle of the sediments (Money et al., 2011). However, the concentration levels observed in the Tamar estuary appears to be less compared to other sites affected by past mining activities (Finzgar et al., 2014). As evident from the results, some areas exhibited anomalous levels of critical metals along the lower parts of the estuaries. Such concentration levels are considered greater than ecologically recommended levels (Das et al., 2005).
Most of the metals mined have significantly reduced in quantity over the years. The uses of the various metals, however, continue being evident. It is, therefore, clear that the Tamar Valley has been losing revenue over the years. The mines are also wearing away (Rippon et al., 2009).
Initially, arsenic minerals were considered as waste material from copper and tin lodes. In 1869, there was an increased market demand for the arsenic, which led to increased extraction and refinement of arsenic, as a byproduct at various Cornish mines. In the 19th century, only a small number of mines in Callington and Tavistock produced about half the world’s output. Initially, the production of arsenic varied from 4000 to 8000 tons annually. The production of arsenic kept on decreasing over the years. In around 1936, less than 100 tons were produced annually. In the present day, there is no output for the arsenic (Rippon et al., 2009).
Arsenic in the past years was mainly used to make insecticides. Today, the demand for arsenic is quite low. It is currently used as timber preservative, manufacturing of electronic components and in glassmaking; small amounts are used (Money et al., 2011).
Throughout 18th and 19th centuries, copper was the second most important metal (Rippon et al., 2009). It was worked from the Cornish veins before it was abandoned as a result of discovering large scale deposit pits in the overseas. Systematic mining of copper began in the 16th century. In the 19th century, production of copper increased significantly. Tamar Valley and Devon produced more than 40% of the world’s output. About 15,000 tons of was produced in 1986, which was the highest production. From then, production began declining dramatically. The production of the copper was negligible from the beginning of the 20th century (Rippon et al., 2009). .
The great Perrin iron lodes include black sphalerite, quartz and brecciate slate with siderite. It varies in width from 1 to 30m. The mines with iron include Mount mine, Duchy Peru, Gravel Hill mine, Deerpark mine and the Treamble mine. Figures given are only for the last working, which are 30 tons of zinc ore and 8000 tons of iron ore. In the present day, iron is not produced in Tamar Valley (Money et al., 2011).
One of the iron's properties is that it is naturally magnetic. It is therefore used to make magnets, both permanent and temporary. To make powerful magnets, an alloy of cobalt and iron is used. Iron has also been used in the manufacturing of different inks and dyes as well as the manufacturing of abrasives. Iron is also alloyed with other elements such as carbon, phosphorus, silicon, nickel, manganese, vanadium, sulphur, chromium and molybdenum to make steel. Steel also has many uses which include; building, manufacturing of heavy machinery, car bodies, machine parts and ship hulls (Wiatrowski & Barkay, 2006).
Lead is a heavy metal. It is malleable, soft, ductile, dense, a poor conductor of electricity and has low tensile strength. From the radioactive decay, lead is the end product. It is also not currently being produced in Tamar Valley (Wiatrowski & Barkay, 2006).
Lead has a variety of uses which include; lead acid batteries, to roof and clad thus preventing water penetration, in the past, used in the manufacturing of sulphuric acid, in high power cables it is used as the sheathing material, in plastic (PVC), for organ pipes it is the base metal, used for stained window glasses in glazing bars, in paint and ceramic glazes for the red and yellow coloring elements, used for lead bronze ornaments, sculptures, statues and decorative motifs. Other uses include using molten lead as a coolant in lead cooled fast reactors, used in making scuba diving belts, lead weights, keels of sailboats and fishing sinkers.
In Tamar Valley, Uranium is widely distributed. Cross courses with low temperatures such as those of nickel, bismuth, iron and cobalt offer a good place for uranium to occur. There are however very small reserves. At present, there is no production of uranium in the area (Rippon et al., 2009).
The major commercial use of uranium is in the generation of electricity by fueling nuclear reactors. About half of the uranium mined today is used in the production of nuclear weapons. Uranium is commonly traded between a buyer and a seller in negotiated contracts (Wiatrowski & Barkay, 2006).
The exploration target for the Tamar Valleys should be on the minor metals and on the rare earth metals. The metals are found in little or low concentrations yet they can make a huge gain for the mine. They have exhausted most of the common metals, and the remaining metals are not in large quantities as they were initially. Again, most of the mines are now proving to be a health hazard. It is becoming more difficult to mine in the mines (Rippon et al., 2009).
There are also some minor metals in existence such as antimony, gold, and lithium. These metals occur in very small quantities. They are however very useful metals and some such as gold very expensive. They would, therefore, fetch a state a lot of income (Das et al., 2005).
Rare earth metals
The rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of 17 elements. They include Yttrium (Y, 39), Scandium (Sc, 21) and lanthanides. The lanthanides include; Lutetium (Lu, 71), Ytterbium (Yb, 70), Helium (Tm, 69), Europium (Eu, 63), Holmium (Ho, 67), Gadolinium (Gd, 64), Samarium (Sm, 62), Promethium (Pm, 61), Neodymium (Nd,60), Dysprosium (Dy, 66), Praseodymium (Pr, 59), Erbium (Er, 68), Cerium (Ce, 58), Terbium (Tb, 65), and Lanthanum (La, 57) (Das et al., 2005).
These metals incorporate themselves with other minerals and are only traces. The minerals have very low concentrations making it difficult for them to be used as ores. The main economic sources of the rare earth metals are the lateritic ion adsorption clays, monazite, loparite, and bastnasite. However, there is one mine in the United States that produces all the earth elements, which are a byproduct from the processing of iron minerals, zirconium and titanium minerals or the tin mineral cassiterite (Finzgar et al., 2014).
The uses of the rare earth elements include; ceramics and lasers, pharmaceuticals, computer monitors, automotive catalytic converters, televisions, glass polishing and lighting. One common, rare earth elements is the Neodymium, which is a major part of the neodymium-iron-boron magnets that are used in generators and motors that are hyper-efficient (Finzgar et al., 2014).
Das M., Dixit S. & Khanna, S. (2005). Justifying the need to prescribe limits for toxic metal contaminants in food-grade silver foils. Food Additives and Contaminants, 22(12), pp.1219-1223.
Finzgar, N., Jez, E., Voglar, D. & Lestan, D. (2014). Spatial distribution of metal contamination before and after remediation in the Meza Valley, Slovenia. Geoderma, 217-218, pp.135-143.
Ramsay, N. (2011). Stephen Rippon, Peter Claughton, and Chris Smart. Mining in a Medieval Landscape: The Royal Silver Mines of the Tamar Valley. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2009. Pp. 200. $36.00 (paper). J. Br. Stud., 50(02), pp.493-494.
Rippon S., Claughton, P. & Smart, C. (2009). Mining in a medieval landscape. Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press.
Wiatrowski, H. & Barkay, T. (2006). Monitoring of Microbial Metal Transformations in the Environment. ChemInform, 37(2).
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