Global Mining Investing $69.95, 2 Volume e-Book Set. Buy here.
Author, Andrew Sheldon

Global Mining Investing is a reference eBook to teach investors how to think and act as investors with a underlying theme of managing risk. The book touches on a huge amount of content which heavily relies on knowledge that can only be obtained through experience...The text was engaging, as I knew the valuable outcome was to be a better thinker and investor.

While some books (such as Coulson’s An Insider’s Guide to the Mining Sector) focus on one particular commodity this book (Global Mining Investing) attempts (and does well) to cover all types of mining and commodities.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Pilbara depletion of iron ore

I swear academics - ok 99% of academics - are not worth a cent, just like politicians who legitimatise their expense with 'accountable' dollars extorted from you, the taxpayer. The quality of their research has an inverse relationship to the intensity of their bed-wetting.
Geoscience Australia calculates that the country's "economic demonstrated resources" of iron currently amount to 24 billion tonnes. It is being used up at a current rate of 324 million tonnes a year. In the 1960's it was reportedly called "one of the most massive ore bodies in the world" by Thomas Price, then vice president of US-based steel company Kaiser Steel.
According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics, that resource is being used up at a rate of 324 million tonnes a year, with rates expected to increase over coming years. Experts Dr Gavin Mudd (Monash University) and Jonathon Law (CSIRO) expect it to be gone within 30 to 50 years (Mudd) and 56 years (Law).

It is interesting how history repeats. In the 1960s when there was an international shortage of iron ore, the Australian government in its wisdom placed an embargo on the exploitation of iron ore. If they are saying there is 24 bil tonnes, I bet you there is probably 100 bil tonnes in the Pilbara alone. The implication of that embargo was that miners stopped looking for the stuff. It was not until Lang Hancock flew over the Pilbara and recognised that the rich iron ore deposits were causing his compass to send him off-course. He lobbied the government to end the embargo I understand.
The moral of this story is that governments are hopeless. They were hopeless in the 1960s, they are more hopeless in the 2000s, because they don't learn from their mistakes. They know only enough to make them dangerous. So why do you give them your power? Every year you finance their indulgences. Why? How little do you think of your lives?
You could almost accept it as a universal principle. So what is wrong with the current thinking? Well, there is absolutely huge amounts of iron ore in Australia. Huge amounts, whether its in Tasmania, South Australia, the Mount Isa region of Queensland, the Cobar & Broken Hill district of NSW.
Some of it might only grade 30%Fe, yet upgrading is often easy through beneficiation. Moreover if it were not, prices would adjust to make it economic. Do we need another silly fear? No. There is also the possibility of recovering scrap. The high steel prices go, the greater the incentive for people to visit your house asking if you have any scrap steel in your backyard rusting away.
But we ought to recognise how hopeless government-sponsored research is, and why you ought not to be funding it. When it is argued that 'there is not enough R&D', and some politician wants to fund it, recognise that its wasteful. The more detached from reality these govt agencies are, the more useless.
There is even another class of iron ores called titanomagnetites which are lower grade, but which are supplemented by titanium and vanadium, which are valuable high strength steel alloys. What if in the next (I say) 300 years a better process is found to recover iron and alloying agents from those ores. That would be another 100 billion tonnes. Why? Because where I live in NZ there is a 400km stretch of beach covered in 30% iron sands. They are typical in volcanic regions, easily mined as well with dredges, easily moved from one site to another.
I have an old friend from university. He does not read my blogs because they are applied. His job is to develop soil maps for the NSW government. They develop these maps for farmers, who after decades of experience I suggest have greater insights into soil quality. Certainly there is a value in having systematic data for the country's soils, but there needs to be a customer or value to the proposition. Where is the value in mapping national parks if you intend to preserve what is there? Perhaps reconnaissance mapping is all that is required. Not in governments ruled by dogma and detached from reality by the generosity of your cheque book.
You don't need to be told this....and yet you keep doing nothing. My role is as an educator. Here is the education. You have heard it before...the Club of Rome prediction in the 1800s pointing to a dire depletion of resources.
Andrew Sheldon
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