For April Fools’ Day we’ve put together a quiz to test your knowledge on some of the more obscure aspects of the mining sector. See if you can pick out which statements are true and which are false.
Tomorrow is April Fools’ Day, and to mark the occasion Resource Investing News has put together a quiz to test your knowledge on some of the more obscure aspects of the mining sector.
Take a read through the statements below and see if you can pick out which are true and which are false. Answers are at the bottom — good luck and happy April Fools’ Day!
1. Silver can turn you blue
Precious metals investors know silver is valued for its duality — it’s bought as investment, but also has diverse industrial uses. What some people may not know is that those industrial uses include healthcare-related applications. For example, the white metal has long been known to have antibacterial properties, and one common way it’s used is in wound dressings.
That said, silver’s applications in the healthcare field aren’t all so run of the mill. Some are so convinced of silver’s medicinal properties that they consume a form of it called colloidal silver. First introduced in 1915, this form of silver has myriad purported health benefits, including the ability to soothe burns and repair skin and tissue damage. Unfortunately, detractors have pointed out that those benefits come with side effects, one of which is skin discoloration — bluish/grayish discoloration to be exact.
2. Peanut butter can be used to make diamonds
Diamonds are perhaps the most well-known gemstone, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows where they come from. Generally the answer to that question is kimberlite pipes, which are formed when buoyant magma deep within the Earth rises upward along paths of weakness. Sometimes that magma will break off pieces of diamond-bearing rock, and the gems will be brought close enough to the surface that they can be mined.
That process, of course, takes a long time, and scientists are understandably looking for ways to speed it up — synthetic diamonds are one obvious result of those efforts. And fortunately such diamonds can be made out of diverse materials. A scientist based in Germany recently revealed that in working to mimic the conditions of the Earth’s lower mantle, he’s found some interesting ways to make diamonds — for instance, from peanut butter. Though the process isn’t quick, the fact that peanut butter is rich in carbon makes it a good starting material.
3. Trees can grow precious metals
Miners usually have to work hard to get metals out of the ground, but that’s not always the case — sometimes they get a little help from nature. That’s certainly the case in Western Australia, where eucalyptus trees are bringing gold to the surface.
Researchers first discovered what was happening when they realized that the trees, which are known for their gold luster, were absorbing gold particles from nearby deposits. However, it wasn’t long before they realized that the story went a little deeper — not only do the trees absorb the gold, but in some cases small particles of it can be found in their leaves and branches. While that’s certainly exciting, little research into the economics of extracting the gold has been completed, largely due to environmental regulations.
4. Gold can be mined from poop
Metals recycling is becoming increasingly common as concerns about the world’s mines running dry amp up. However, while metals are usually sourced from places like tailings ponds or old electronics, news recently surfaced that poop could be a viable source of metals.
That might sound outlandish, but in fact treated solid waste contains small quantities of many metals, including gold, silver, palladium and vanadium. The problem is that those metals aren’t being extracted — at the moment, about half of the United States’ treated solid waste is used as fertilizer, with the other half being incinerated or placed in landfills. Researchers are now looking at ways of collecting those metals in an economically viable fashion, meaning that it’s possible that in the future some products will include metal sourced from poop.
5. Asteroid mining is happening
With well-known backers like James Cameron and Sir Richard Branson, it’s no wonder Planetary Resources is the biggest name on the asteroid mining block. The company burst onto the scene in 2012 with a plan to mine asteroids in space for precious and rare metals, and while it was initially met with skepticism, it has proven doubters wrong.
Though mining on a large scale is not yet taking place, the company has been able to use its expertise in advanced space systems to land on near-Earth asteroids and bring small quantities of platinum-group metals back for analysis. Moving forward, Planetary Resources plans to look into harvesting such asteroids for water — the “oil of space” — and of course will be searching for ways to commercialize the process of bringing metals back to the ground.
This article was originally published on Resource Investing News on April 1, 2015.
- False. While some eucalyptus trees in Western Australia have indeed absorbed gold from nearby deposits, they have not brought the metal to the surface.
- False. While Planetary Resources is certainly looking to mine asteroids, the company isn’t there yet and has not brought any metals back from space. View the company’s roadmap here and click here to see what it’s accomplished so far.
Securities Disclosure: I, Charlotte McLeod, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.