Demands raw materials discovered in the Alps

Rare earths are among the world's most sought-after commodities. In Valais Binn three amateur researchers have found in large numbers minerals.

The mineral collectors know the knights pass in the Binn Valley has long been. He is one of the most famous finding areas of Switzerland. Now three amateur mineralogists have made a startling discovery. Ate van der Burgt, Mischa Crumbach and Stéphane Cuchet are in the area on crystals with rare earth (SE) encountered. Although SE minerals have been detected in this area, but not to this extent and not in such an unusual type mineralization. It is, in fact about a 250 Million year old deposits of sand with heavy minerals. These were in the formation of the Alps to solid rock. This led to an unusual process, that the once microscopic mineral grains to over 10 Centimeters were large.

The site extends around the rocky desert of the knights pass over two kilometers. Other deposits were up in eight kilometers in the southern Binn valley and on the Alpe Veglia discovered in Italy, as the three researchers "Swiss Spotlight» portray in the latest edition of the journal. Moreover, they have discovered four minerals, which have never been found in Switzerland.

Not so rare rare earths

Rare earth sind Metalle, which are in the earth's crust not so rare, as the name suggests. For example, there are more of the belonging to the rare earth metal cerium than about copper. The concentration of these elements in the rock is, however, at least the places large enough, to operate a mining can economically. And even there,, where the quantities to make mining promising, their recovery is very expensive and delicate.

These rare earths but are extremely sought after, because the metals are used in various high-tech fields as materials. They are found in catalysts and plasma televisions, in Supraleitern, Batteries & Cell Phones. They are also used in medical devices or magnetic wind turbine. Currently, high prices are paid. China, by far the largest producing country of rare earth, is accused of, commodity intentionally-scarce. The high demand and high price have now led to, that once produce disused mines outside the People's Republic again now. The question, whether a reduction could therefore also be worth in the Binn Valley, imposes itself on the current findings.

15 different minerals, containing rare earth, haben van der Burgt, Been discovered Crumbach and Cuchet on Knight Pass, in particular with the elements cerium, Lanthanum, Neodym sowie Yttrium. These are involved in some of beautiful crystals of the minerals allanite, Bastnäsit, Synchisit, Monazite, Xenotime or other mineralogical «exotic».

Even politically difficult to implement

The references are to over 2500 Meter über More, several leagues away from any street, in the landscape park and the Binn Valley in the Italian natural park Parco dell'Alpe Veglia e dell'Alpe devero. It is decisive for the question of the economic viability of the mining of rare earths, how many grams of the raw material can be extracted from a given quantity of rock. Mischa Crumbach estimates the incidence at the Knights pass to a maximum of three grams degradable metal per kilogram. "It is now not to be economically viable. In addition, the height and remoteness of the Knight's passport would a reduction expresses make it difficult. "

Previously, it was found in the Binn Valley concentrations up to 0,3 Gramm Metalloxid pro Kilogramm Gestein. But even three grams are little. For comparison: Contains a currently discussed for a mining deposit in Greenland 11 Gramm pro kg Gestein, Moreover, the deposit is in terms of volume about ten times as large as the occurrence of the knights pass - thus contains about 30 times more metal.

So that an investor for a reduction in the Binn Valley interest could, is highly unlikely according to the current state of knowledge. In addition, it would be legally and politically hardly solvable, to obtain a mining license for the Swiss and Italian natural park areas. Unhappy are not Crumbach and his colleagues. A mining on a large scale could affect the far intact landscape and severely pollute the environment heavily. For mineralogists and hobbyists the discovery is yet valuable. It makes it possible, better understand the mode of origin of such SE mineralization. And maybe elsewhere corresponding deposits can then be identified.


(Created: 10.07.2014, 07:28 Clock)


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