Tag Archives: mining

New study finds fracking does not contaminate drinking water

The uncertainty of science: A new study, using data from more than 11,000 drinking water wells in northern Pennsylvania, has found no evidence that fracking causes contamination.

The new study of 11,309 drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania concludes that background levels of methane in the water are unrelated to the location of hundreds of oil and gas wells that tap hydraulically fractured, or fracked, rock formations. The finding suggests that fracking operations are not significantly contributing to the leakage of methane from deep rock formations, where oil and gas are extracted, up to the shallower aquifers where well water is drawn.

The result also calls into question prominent studies in 2011 and 2013 that did find a correlation in a nearby part of Pennsylvania. There, wells closer to fracking sites had higher levels of methane. Those studies, however, were based on just 60 and 141 domestic well samples, respectively.

The article outlines in detail the many disagreements and uncertainties of both the old studies and this new one. It also however contains this one key quote about the earlier studies, buried in the text, that illustrates the politics influencing the reporting of the anti-fracking research:

The two papers seemed to show that fracking was leading to increased concentrations of methane in drinking water. Dissolved methane is not toxic, and drinking water often contains significant background levels of the gas from natural sources. [emphasis mine]

The earlier studies were blasted everywhere by the media. They were used to show the harm fracking does, and were the justification for the banning of fracking in New York. Yet, the methane they found was not necessarily caused by fracking, and isn’t even a health concern anyway.

I wonder if the press will give this new report as much coverage. It might not be right, but it sure does indicate that the science is unsettled, and that the risks from fracking are, as usual in these days of doom-saying environmentalism, overblown.

Planetary Resources has released a video showing off the prototype of their Arkyd-100 space telescope.

The competition heats up: Planetary Resources has released a video showing off the prototype of their Arkyd-100 space telescope.

As I noted when this company first appeared, for the foreseeable future they are going to be a manufacturer of space telescopes, not an asteroid mining company. At the same time, they, like Deep Space Industries, are going to drive satellite development towards lower cost and smarter design, which in the long run will make asteroid mining practical and profitable.

Another asteroid mining company will announce its plans tomorrow, Tuesday.

The competition heats up: Another asteroid mining company will announce its plans tomorrow, Tuesday.

As I mentioned earlier today, it is important to maintain a skeptical attitude to each of these new commercial space companies, even as we cheer them on enthusiastically. For example, I am very curious how this company has come through with a “breakthrough process for manufacturing in space.” What could this be, and why has no one thought of it before?

No announcement yet, but of the many stories available this Wired article and this Yahoo article appear to provide the best overview of the asteroid mining plans of Planetary Resources.

No announcement yet, but of the many stories available this Wired article appears to provide the best overview of the asteroid mining plans of Planetary Resources.

The company’s first phase is most interesting:

Within the next 18 to 24 months, Planetary Resources hopes to launch between two and five space-based telescopes at an estimated cost of a few million dollars each that will identify potentially valuable asteroids. Other than their size and orbit, little detailed information is available about the current catalog of near-Earth asteroids. Planetary Resources’ Arkyd-101 Space Telescopes will figure out whether any are worth the trouble of resource extraction.

The actual press conference is scheduled for 10:30 am (Pacific). Stay tuned.

Update: The Planetary Resources website has now been updated. You can read more about their space telescope proposal here.

The moon contains a vast resource of titanium

There’s gold in them hills! Actually, it’s titanium, and it’s on the Moon.

The highest titanium abundances on Earth are around 1 percent or less. The new map shows that in the [Moon’s] mare, titanium abundances range from about one percent to a little more than ten percent. In the highlands, everywhere TiO2 is less than one percent. The new titanium values match those measured in the ground samples to about one percent.

Exploring an abandoned mine in Nevada

An evening pause: From the youtube webpage:

This inclined shaft is located outside of Searchlight, NV. The shaft itself is about 350 feet deep with two extensive drift levels along its length. We found a winze [a vertical shaft] in the lowest drift level that went down to what appeared to be an additional level.

I must emphasize that mines are very dangerous, and should be approached with great care and caution. Unlike a cave, which has had eons to slowly establish its stable structure, a mine is cut into the rock instantly (compared to geological time), and is thus very unstable and prone to collapse.

Mining the moon for water and nuclear fuel

Mining the moon for water and fuel.

Texas-based Shackleton Energy Company has already begun operations aimed at mining the Moon within the next few years. 

The company’s plans for mining and refining operations would involve melting the ice and purifying the water, converting the water into gaseous hydrogen and oxygen, and then condensing the gases into liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen and hydrogen peroxide, all potential rocket fuels.

Shackleton CEO Dale Tietz says the water extracted would be used almost exclusively as rocket fuel to power operations both within Low Earth Orbit (LEO) – such as space tourism and the removal of space-debris – on the Moon, and further out into space. ‘We are a for-profit business enterprise moving forward, and so we are only going there really for one reason and that is to mine, prospect mine and harvest water for rocket propellant production,’ says Tietz.

The World’s First Everything-Proof Underground Luxury Community

The world’s first everything-proof underground luxury community. Fun quote:

The Barstow bunker was built to withstand a 50-megaton nuclear blast 10 miles away, 450mph winds, a magnitude-10 earthquake, 10 days of 1,250°F surface fires, and three weeks beneath any flood. Vicino says that a soon-to-be-installed air-filtration system will also neutralize any biological, chemical or nuclear attacks. The Barstow branch will stock enough food and clothing to sustain 135 people for at least a year, and in a lifestyle that Vicino describes as compact but luxurious, like being on a cruise ship.

Life in the Chilean mine

A very detailed update on the trapped Chilean miners, now expected to be rescured in early November. Two key quotes:

The miners are sleeping on cots that were sent down in pieces and reassembled, and each can look forward every weekend to eight minutes each of video chat time with his family using compact cameras and a phone that was disassembled to fit through the hole.


Their routine starts with breakfast – hot coffee or tea with milk and a ham-and-cheese sandwich. Then lots of labor: Removing the loose rock that drops through the bore holes as they are being widened into escape tunnels; cleaning up their trash and emptying the toilet; and attending to the capsules known as “palomas” – Spanish for carrier pigeons – that are lowered to them with supplies.

The miners must quickly remove the contents – food, clean clothes, medicine, family letters and other supplies – and send back up material such as dirty clothes, rolled up like sausages to fit. Each trip down takes 12 to 15 minutes, then four minutes for unloading and five minutes to pull them back up. At least three miners are constantly stationed at the bore hole for this work.

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