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Peak mining & implications for natural resource management - Simon Michaux

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Former career mining professional Simon Michaux gives a public lecture describing the onset of 'peak mining' and its various implications for natural resource management. This talk was presented in Adelaide by the environmental group, Sustainable Population Australia. The presentation looks at the looming energy crisis, and plots peak gas, coal, uranium and other energy sources as we head towards a time of resource scarcity and radical societal change.
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Text Comments (19)
Autism Science (6 days ago)
Amazing this exceptional video has had so few views. What a pathetic global community!
Todd Cory (4 months ago)
yet another aspect of finite planet/ limits to growth
Gaffelglim (1 year ago)
Excellent! Too bad our leaders are so in love with money, Sweden is racing to the bottom by planning a huge mine in sensitive Arctic areas in Lapland and the year is 2017....
hitssquad (3 years ago)
4:13 That photograph of a copper nugget is from 1903, not the "1800's": https://www.google.com/search?q=1903+nugget+copper&tbm=isch It massed 3 tons, in a year when the total U.S. copper production was *596,000 tonnes*. At least as far back as the year 1800, nuggets have been irrelevant to copper production. No one in copper mining misses them, because they never amounted to anything in the first place.
Zenny Nequin (3 years ago)
+hitssquad I could use a few tons of copper PLEASE....
Simon Michaux (4 years ago)
Data has been collected since this was uploaded and this presentation has evolved.  I now have data to show that the year 2005 was a turning point.  Oil supply became inelastic and at the same time Chinese demand for raw materials accelerated.  Metal prices (Au, Ag, Ni, Pb, Cu, Fe, Zn, etc) spiked and became very volatile.  The 2008 economic correction  of the GFC did not resolve these issues and return metal prices to the levels prior to 2005 nor did it create a new level of stability.  This means that the underlying issues were not addressed and market speculators were not the controlling force.  We are now 8-9 years into an era of industrial transformation.  I believe this is a signature for the start of transformation as a consequence of Peak Oil.  All of our resources are following this pattern.  Peak oil is certainly not the only problem we are faced with. Our financial and economic systems are far too fragile and disconnected from reality to engage in the required industrial reform. There are some technological solutions which might help if applied correctly.  The real constraint is now time.  We are out of time.  We really need 10-20 years to manage the transition after the political will has been established.  These problems here now.  Current political leadership are engaging in squabbling over the dregs of what resources are left and maintaining the status quo.  We are using the last of the easy to get resources, to do the equivalent of straightening bananas.  All of this indifference does suggest a certain outcome.
John Doyle (4 years ago)
Fantastic presentation. Such a clear demonstration of the situation our civilization finds itself. It ranks with Al Bartlett's video on the exponential equation and its consequences.
Frodo baggins (4 years ago)
profit motive needs to go. So does inequality. Profit motive will never care about the environment. Economics does not care about externalities. “Guess what percentage of total material flow through this system is still in product or use 6 months after their sale in North America. 50%? 20%? NO. 1%. One! In other words, 99% of the stuff we harvest, mine, process, transport—99% of the stuff we run through this system is trashed within 6 months. Now how can we run a planet with that rate of materials put through?” ~  Paul Hawken, 'Natural Capitalism' "Economists say, if you clear cut the forests and put [the money] in the bank, you could make 6 or 7 percent. If you cut down the forests and put it into Malaysia or Papua New Guinea, you could make 30 or 40 percent. So, who cares whether you keep the forest, cut it down [and] put the money somewhere else! When those forests are gone, put it in fish; when the fish are gone, put it in computers. Money doesn't stand for anything, and money now grows faster than the real world. Economics is so fundamentally disconnected from the real world, it is destructive. If you take an introductory course in economics, the professor—in the first lecture—will show a slide of the economy, and it looks very impressive. They try and impress you, because they know damn well that economics is not a science, but they're trying to fool us into thinking that it's a real science; it's not. Economics is [just] a set of values, and [they] use mathematical equations and pretend that it's a science. But, if you ask the economist, 'in that equation, where do you put the ozone layer? Where do you put the deep, underground aquifers? Where do you put top soil or biodiversity?', their answer is 'oh, those are externalities.' Well, then you might as well be on Mars! That economy's not based [on] anything like the real world. It's life, the web of life, that filters water, it's microorganisms in the soil that create the soil we can grow our food in…insects fertilize all of the flowering plants…nature performs all kinds of services…these services are vital to the health of the planet. Economists call these externalities; that's NUTS." —David Suzuki
grneyedmick (4 years ago)
brilliant, evrything tied neatly together, no fluff or bs.
Blair T. Longley (4 years ago)
Good presentation. However, I believe that the future will be driven by the ruling classes being criminally insane, rather than by any other kind of creative alternatives being implemented.
Autism Science (6 days ago)
Do bear in mind that as they are criminally insane, their competence in remaining the ruling classes is also liable to be shaky.
Eclipse Now (5 years ago)
1. Peak uranium? When today’s waste could run the world for 500 years? Tell him he’s dreaming. “    Barry Brook:…. So instead of getting less than 1% of the energy out of uranium, these fast reactors get about 99.8% of the energy out of it which means they’re incredibly more efficient in terms of using the uranium resource. And actually we’ve mined enough uranium already to run the whole world in these reactors for about 500 years.     Robyn Williams: So the old argument about running out of uranium isn’t on any more?     Barry Brook: We may run out in 50,000 or so years if we powered the whole world by uranium, but then we’ve got about four times as much thorium to use as well. So the argument that we’ll run out of uranium is a dead duck.” http://bravenewclimate.com/2009/07/22/science-show-nuclear-power-plants-now-safer-and-cheaper/ Uranium from seawater could run the world for hundreds of millions of years. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_uranium#Seawater 2. It takes for or 5 years to build a nuke? Nukes are too expensive, who is going to pay for them? Both of these arguments are related, and both are baloney. It’s like condemning the airline industry because the Hindenberg exploded. How long does it take to make a car, or how much does a car cost? It depends. Are we talking about a one-of-a-kind hand crafted Bentley classic, or an off the production line Hyundai? Today’s nukes can be modularised and put up on the production line. They can then be trucked to site and clipped together like so much super-sized lego. It’s just plain disingenuous to rely on the too long’ or ‘too expensive’ arguments. It does not have to be that way. 3. Spent fuel rods? Are you SERIOUS! This guy has NO IDEA what he’s talking about. The fuel can be reprocessed in an INTEGRATED Fast Reactor, and just today’s nuclear waste is worth $30 TRILLION dollars as a resource because it could run the world for 5 centuries. So we’re just going to *store* these 'spent fuel rods'? That would be like digging up your best sweet oil, refining it into petroleum, and then burying it somewhere for decades! That would be retarded! Instead, these fuel rods can be reprocessed and USED! Waste = fuel, get it? As for Simon saying “Until someone comes up with a solution, I just don’t think nuclear is viable, ” well, until he's done some more reading on the EBR2 which was built in the 1960's for crying out loud, and how it *uses* nuclear waste as fuel, I don't think Simon's TALK is viable!
RechargeableLithium (2 years ago)
+Eclipse Now Please cite a source or link to a company that's actually selling one of these fast reactors. Thanks in advance. Also - for your 500 year estimate - is that based on a linear trend from today's energy use, or the actual geometric trend?
TheGreatSpaces (5 years ago)
I see us mining rubbish tips using 100% renewable (wind/solar-driven electrolysis+carbon capture, NOT reformed LNG) methanol-powered equipment. Transport for individuals will be electric for sure, since the methanol will be rationed. Electricity will be coal because it peaks last and is still quite energy intense. Construction will go light-weight - forget concrete, it'll be styrofoam sandwiched by various sorts of fire-resistant boards; no frames either wooden or steel.  The only booming industries will be around self-sufficiency in food, and appliance repair. I think there will be a small but robust new market in extremely robust goods for those who can afford them. That will be the best case and only in a few privileged countries. Basically Australia and South American countries + a few others.
Todd Cory (11 months ago)
and "renewables" are 100% dependent on the fossil fuel powered, industrial mining and manufacturing infrastructure. basically, this is the limits to growth as projected back in 1972. in the end "renewables" will be photosynthesis, waterwheels and windmills... but climbing off the unsustainable technology pyramid will be unpleasant... to say the least. http://www.conversationearth.org/limits-growth-dennis-meadows-116-encore/
Alfred Nassim (2 years ago)
Renewables are unable to replace the liquid fuel that built them. https://ourfiniteworld.com/2016/10/27/how-researchers-could-miss-the-real-energy-story/
hyhhy (5 years ago)
The data about the rising energy demands of mining, fossil fuel availability to address that, the world's rising demand for mined raw materials etc. is very interesting. So is the speculation about the future developments these things might lead to, in general. The anti-nuclear "they're lying to us about what happened in Fukushima" conspiracy theory and "human civilization is not mature enough for nuclear technology" bullshit is a minus, but I'm still giving a like.
etmax1 (5 years ago)
I'm forwarding this link to belated 07 Kevin and request that he comment. He's done so for other things in the past, I'm interested to see if he will this time.
David Stewart (5 years ago)
One hell of a scary presentation. I have to admit I've been thinking about this set of scenario's for many years. We need a major change in thinking. Oil should not be dug up to be wasted (nor any other ore for that matter). Demand needs to decrease (population cuts anyone?). It will be every man for himself soon. I think Michaels comment that we will soon be seeing "...some choice behaviour soon" is on the money. Watch the ostriches sticking their heads in the sand! (ppl in denial!).

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