The people, science and technology behind discovery

Subscribe to the Magazine

Get new articles sent directly to
your mailbox.

Join the network

Twitter Updates Group Forum

Earth Explorer is an online source of news, expertise and applied knowledge for resource explorers and earth scientists. Sponsored by Geosoft.

News & Views

News Archive

December 7, 2016

Geosoft introduces IP and resistivity inversion in VOXI Earth Modelling

Geosoft has added induced polarization and resistivity data inversion to its VOXI Earth Modelling 3D inversion software service. Geoscientists are now able to create detailed 3D models of conductivity and chargeability from IP and resistivity survey data with VOXI. The resulting models can assist in interpreting and targeting regions for mineral and environmental applications...

December 5, 2016

Mexico's Deepwater Round Exceeds Expectations

Some of the world's biggest oil companies showed up Dec. 5 and agreed to invest on the Mexican side of the Gulf of Mexico, proving that deepwater exploration still has a pulse despite challenging market conditions...

November 30, 2016

Magnetic inversion results for Ngamiland available for download

A regional-scale geophysical inversion of magnetic field data in the Ngamiland region of northwestern Botswana is now available for download from the Botswana Geoscience Portal, a partnership initiative of the Botswana Geoscience Institute, industry sponsors and Geosoft...

November 30, 2016

LIGO Resumes Search for Gravitational Waves

After a series of upgrades, the twin detectors of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, have turned back on and resumed their search for ripples in the fabric of space and time known as gravitational waves. LIGO transitioned from their engineering test runs to full science observations at 8 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on November 30...

November 9, 2016

International Volcano Scientists Unite

For the first time, the United States will host the international Volcano Observatory Best Practices workshop, previously held only in Italy. The workshop will take place this month in Vancouver, Washington. It is designed specifically for volcano observatories around the world and their staff to exchange ideas and best practices with each other...

October 4, 2016

USGS Assesses Mineral Potential for Sagebrush Habitats in Six Western States

USGS has completed a comprehensive assessment and inventory of potential mineral resources covering approximately 10 million acres of Federal and adjacent lands in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming...

October 3, 2016

Uganda Targets Up to U.S.$100 Million for Mineral Exploration

Uganda is well endowed with mineral resources and, like many naturally-gifted African countries, is becoming keen on ensuring that these resources play a transformative role in its long-term structural transformation dream - the Vision 2040...

September 9, 2016

Small-Scale Fishers Get A Big Boost With First-Of-Its Kind Impact Investment Fund

Conservation organization Rare announces the Meloy Fund for Small-Scale Fisheries at Our Ocean Conference. The Global Environment Facility, one of the largest funders of conservation worldwide, will be investing $6 million into the fund...

September 1, 2016

Scientists take to the skies to track West African pollution

Scientists operating research aircraft over West Africa have detected organic materials in the atmosphere over a number of urban areas, contributing to concerns of the rise in pollution across the region...

August 17, 2016

New IGS Xplore prospectivity maps for Botswana

International Geoscience Services have released a series of base metal prospectivity maps for the Ngamiland District of northwestern Botswana using free geodata available on the recently-launched Botswana Geoscience Portal, hosted by Geosoft. The maps identify favorable areas for copper, zinc and lead mineralization using geological, geochemical and geophysical datasets downloaded directly from the portal.

August 11, 2016

NexGen Makes New High Grade Discovery

NexGen Energy reported the discovery of a new high grade zone of mineralization 4.7 km northeast of the Arrow Deposit as part of an on-going summer drilling program on its 100% owned, Rook I property, Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan...

August 10, 2016

Rampion UXO Disposal to Take Place This Week

E.ON has confirmed that the two unexploded devices, detected along the Rampion offshore cable route will be safely disposed this week following the consultation with the Marine Management Organisation...

August 9, 2016

Diamonds In The Rough: E&Ps Find New Reserves In Mature Basins

The oil industry’s history demonstrates clearly that new plays and prospects have long been found in mature basins that were thought to be well on the way to being squeezed dry. Through the acquisition of new data, developing new concepts and coming up with fresh interpretations, long-producing basins around the world from the North Sea to Malaysia have continued to reveal new riches...

August 8, 2016

Northern Shield Identifies High Quality VTEM Targets at Séquoi

Northern Shield Resources announced the results of the interpretation and modelling of the VTEM survey from the Séquoi Property in the Labrador Trough of Quebec . Séquoi is owned 100% by Northern Shield and is being explored for Noril'sk style Ni-Cu-PGE massive sulphides. After geophysical modelling and interpretation of the VTEM data from Séquoi, six VTEM anomalies of significant interest have been identified...

August 3, 2016

Rio Tinto tailors big data drive to copper

Rio Tinto will put the weight of an exploration big data push and its newly-formed Growth and Innovation group behind its desire to identify a "tier 1" copper asset. Speaking at the annual Diggers & Dealers conference in Kalgoorlie, Growth and Innovation group executive Stephen McIntosh said Australia was "overdue for a tier 1" mineral discovery of any type...

August 1, 2016

Tetra Tech Awarded $200 Million Navy CLEAN Contract

Tetra Tech announced that it has been awarded a $200 million, single-award contract by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Atlantic. Through the Comprehensive Long-term Environmental Action Navy (CLEAN) contract, Tetra Tech will provide environmental engineering support services to installations within the NAVFAC Atlantic Area of Responsibility...

May 3, 2016

NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS), MODUM Partners announce "Young Scientist Summer School on Sea Dumped Chemical Weapons"

This international project cooperates closely with CHEMSEA (Search and Assessment of Chemical Weapons) Project for and sharing and knowledge transfer...

April 12, 2016

Monday mad rush for gold stocks

Renewed optimism about the outlook for gold saw investors pile back into gold stocks, pushing many stock to 52-week highs in heavy volumes...

April 11, 2016

Medgold Resources: Continues to Expand the Boticas Gold Project, Portugal; Proposes $200,000 Private Placement

Medgold Resources is pleased to announce new assay results from contiguous rock-chip sampling from the Limarinho South zone at its Boticas gold project in Portugal, which include a highlight of 6.0m @ 5.7 g/t Au...

April 8, 2016

De-carbonizing our energy sector

Nuclear energy currently provides around 11 percent of the world's electricity. China, the European Union, the United States, India, Russia, South Korea, and other nations’ have major existing fleets...

April 1, 2016

Follow-Up Drilling Results Indicate Wide Gold Zones at Hendricks Gold Discovery

Gascoyne Resources Limited announced that it has received the final assay results from the 10,000 metre aircore exploration drilling programme...

March 26, 2016

The Oil Market Is Finally Hitting Its Breaking Point

After a significant reduction in investments over the past two years, oil companies can no longer overcome the production declines from legacy wells...

March 15, 2016

N-Sea Expands into the French Offshore Wind Industry

Subsea IMR provider, N-Sea, has signed a letter of intent with CERES Recherches & Expertise Sous-Marine and TechSub Industrie Environement, to provide subsea survey, installation and remediation services to the French offshore wind industry...

March 9, 2016

PDAC 2016 Convention Exceeds 22,000 Attendees

Optimism and opportunity abounded at the PDAC 2016 Convention of The Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada in spite of recent industry challenges...

March 3, 2016

6 Alpha Launches EOD Contracting Division

6 Alpha Associates, a specialist risk consultancy practice, with expertise in the assessment and management of unexploded ordnance, has launched a dedicated explosive ordnance disposal division...

Catalyst for clean energy: American Vanadium's Gibellini Project

American Vanadium builds for a new green energy future

by Graham Chandler on July 19, 2012expertise

It will be almost like pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. Aiming to be the greenest mine in America, American Vanadium Corp. is evaluating the use of integrated solar and wind electric power backed by a vanadium flow battery (VFB) to run its entire operation with power to spare. And it is vanadium pentoxide that the company’s Gibellini Project in central Nevada will be producing—a critical ingredient in the very VFBs touted to allow renewables to make significant inroads to powering the nation’s electrical grids.

It promises to be the only North American vanadium mine coming online and actively looking to vertically integrate with clean energy battery manufacturing. Not only is the site’s unique geology expected to result in the production of high purity vanadium, but the mine is “being designed to be powered with wind and solar energy along with a vanadium flow battery to demonstrate the viability of microgrids using vanadium energy storage technologies in remote and integrated locations,” says Bill Radvak, president and CEO of American Vanadium Corp.

It’s no secret that the major renewable energy sources, wind and solar, produce electricity only when the wind blows or the sun shines. To make them efficient enough to be a reliable source, some of their power must be stored for release into the grid between high power generation episodes. VFBs are well-suited to providing the three main demands of this large-scale electrical storage: large enough to pull a power supply through low patches; ability to handle repeated charges and discharges over long periods; and ability to release large amounts of electricity rapidly.

Alternatively called Vanadium Redox Batteries or VRBs, they consist of a power cell assembly of two vanadium-based electrolytes separated by a proton exchange membrane. It’s the unique molecular properties of vanadium that enable the process; if necessary, recharging can be accomplished by changing the electrolyte. A related emerging battery technology calling for vanadium is its use in rechargeable lithium batteries for electric vehicles (EVs)—lithium-vanadium batteries are a leading solution for the next generation of EV batteries.

American Vanadium Corp. is poised to supply the element to a market that’s expected to quickly expand as these needs make their inroads into a new and greener future. At present over 90% of the world’s annual 62,000-tonne vanadium production is used to strengthen steel. Vanadium is also critical for special titanium alloys used in jet engines, missiles, armored vehicles and pollution control catalysts amongst others. But the emerging attraction of VFBs for grid scale storage and rechargeable EV batteries could rapidly gain on these as the US pushes to meet presidential renewable energy targets.

Currently, the initial source of about 80% of global vanadium is Venezuela, Russia, South Africa and China; there’s virtually no reliable US domestic supply of high purity vanadium.The American Vanadium-operated Gibellini Project in Eureka, Nevada, aims to rectify this.

With an estimated annual output of over 5,000 metric tonnes, the Gibellini Project could supply in excess of 25% of America’s vanadium needs.

The mine had been sitting dormant for a number of years when American Vanadium optioned it in 2005. It had been around for about 70 years, but the metallurgical process earlier owners had proposed proved too expensive. Then starting in 2000, price stabilization due to China and other BRICs using more vanadium raised the world price.

American Vanadium started with an AMEC scoping study in 2008. Based on the study, trenching bulk samples were collected, RC holes were drilled and XRF surveying done to develop a new base map. A follow-up feasibility study completed by AMEC in September 2011 now guides project development in the permitting phase.

The Gibellini Project is unique in the vanadium and mining worlds. “The deposit is at surface with a remarkably low strip ratio of 0.2 and the host rock is heavily fractured with a very clean shale,” explains Radvak. “Our deposit has been heavily oxidized, which means the heavy metals customary to many deposits that result in ongoing issues such as acid mine drainage are not present in any significant concentration.” As they plan to use a heap leach operation there will be no tailing pond and the project will use a fraction of the power and water of a typical mine he says.

Radvak says vanadium heap leaching will enable production of two different vanadium pentoxides—one for the steel industry and one in sulfuric acid solution ready for VFB electrolyte. The latter can be pulled directly from the heap leaching process. It will be a rare convenience: “At any given point, we can go to 100% electrolyte production or 100% vanadium pentoxide production,” says Radvak.

The mine’s unique green blend of wind and solar energy power backed with a VFB will be a first, and promises to set a precedent in becoming the greenest mine in America. It could demonstrate the viability of remote microgrids using vanadium energy storage technologies, which would have far-reaching positive environmental impacts. “Our plan is to ultimately reduce permitting concerns in air quality issues, fuel storage and transportation, electrical line, substation and grid upgrades etc,” explains Radvak. And another green bonus: vanadium works so well as a steel strengthener that it reduces the amount of steel required in construction by up to 30%, meaning 30% less iron ore is needed, power consumption goes down, and the pollution related to smelting steel is decreased, he adds.

The operation has potential to grow into the future. American Vanadium has a land package of approximately 4,250 acres surrounding the Gibellini Project where they currently survey for look-alike deposits. Included in the company’s NI 43-101 is 7.7 million tons of ore containing 42 million pounds of vanadium pentoxide.

But currently the focus is putting in place the joint ventures and associated relationships to build the grid scale battery manufacturing business in North America says Radvak. Moreover, “the Gibellini is the seed for a new industry in utility scale, remote and integrated renewable power systems; and cultivating that seed is both a challenge and a major opportunity,” he says.