Heavy Construction News – Newly discovered ‘Casper’ octopod at risk from deep-sea mining — ScienceDaily

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Last spring, researchers made headlines with the discovery of what was surely a new species of octopod, crawling along the seafloor at a record-breaking ocean depth of more than 4,000 meters (about 2.5 miles) off Necker Island near Hawaii. The octopod’s colorless and squishy appearance immediately inspired the nickname “Casper.” Now, a report published in Current Biology on December 19 reveals that these ghost-like, deep-sea octopods lay their eggs on the dead stalks of sponges attached to seafloor nodules rich in the increasingly valuable metals used in cell phones and computers.

“Presumably, the female octopod then broods these eggs, probably for as long as it takes until they hatch — which may be a number of years,” says Autun Purser of the Alfred Wegener Institute’s Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

“The brooding observation is important as these sponges only grow in some areas on small, hard nodules or rocky crusts of interest to mining companies because of the metal they contain,” including manganese, he adds. “The removal of these nodules may therefore put the lifecycle of these octopods at risk.”

Purser explains that the deep-sea manganese nodules form similarly to pearls in an oyster. In a process that could take millions of years, metals gradually build up in rocky layers onto a small starting seed, perhaps a shell fragment or a shark’s tooth.

“These nodules look a bit like a potato, and are made up of rings of different shells of metal-rich layers,” Purser says. “They are interesting to companies as many of the metals contained are ‘high-tech’ metals, useful in producing mobile phones and other modern computing equipment, and most of the land sources of these metals have already been found and are becoming more expensive to buy.”

Purser says that little was known about the creatures found in the deep-sea environments where those attractive metals are found. In a series of recent cruises, the researchers set out to find the organisms that live there and to understand how the ecosystem and animals might be impacted by mining activities.

Their studies have shown that octopods are numerous in manganese crust areas, precisely where miners would hope to extract metals of interest. The mineral-biota association that they observed is a first for any octopod lacking fins (a group known as incirrate octopods), and it puts these captivating octopods, which live their long lives at a slow pace, at particular risk.

“As long-lived creatures, recovery will take a long time and may not be possible if all the hard seafloor is removed,” Purser says. “This would be a great loss to biodiversity in the deep sea and may also have important knock on effects. Octopods are sizable creatures, which eat a lot of other smaller creatures, so if the octopods are removed, the other populations will change in difficult to predict ways.”

Purser says that he and his colleagues continue to study the nodules and their importance to microbes and animals both small and large, including starfish, crabs, and fish.

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CEG Exclusive: Ritchie’s IronPlanet Acquisition Enters Home Stretch :: Story ID: 34503 :: Construction Equipment Guide

Heavy Construction News

Ritchie Bros.’ acquisition of IronPlanet is the next step in its multi-channel diversification strategy.

📅   Fri May 26, 2017 – National Edition
Craig Mongeau, Editor-in-Chief


Jim Barr, group president, emerging businesses, brand innovation and technology, Ritchie Bros.

Jim Barr, group president, emerging businesses, brand innovation and technology, Ritchie Bros.


When Ritchie Bros. recently received unconditional antitrust clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice for its IronPlanet acquisition, an exclamation mark was symbolically placed on the end of a process to acquire the leading online auctioneer that started in late summer 2016.

The process was smooth and securing U.S. government approval went as expected.

“Our business is unique, so we expected that the acquisition could take until the end of the second quarter in 2017 [end of June] to receive approval from the Department of Justice,” Jim Barr, group president, emerging businesses, brand innovation and technology, Ritchie Bros., told Construction Equipment Guide (CEG). “We received unconditional approval in mid-May, so it fit our initial expectations.”

This acquisition, according to Barr, is all about the customer, providing them unprecedented choice in different ways to buy and sell equipment, trucks and other assets.

“As expected, the DOJ took the time to understand our business and the benefits our combined company can provide customers and then provided unconditional approval of the acquisition,” he said.

The acquisition will officially close in the next few weeks.

“It’s exciting, we can’t wait to get to work,” Barr said. “We believe by working together with IronPlanet the possibilities are endless.”

The IronPlanet acquisition was a logical step for the venerable auctioneer, Ritchie Bros. The company was a pioneer by stepping into the world of online auctions back in 2002. Now online business makes up close to half of its sales. In 2016, Ritchie Bros. sold $2.1 billion of assets to online buyers.

“Our strategy over the last few years has been to move from an auctions-only company to a leader in multichannel asset disposition,” said Barr. “Our customers buy and sell equipment through a variety of channels based on their needs and we want to help them do this in as many ways as possible. Our multichannel strategy has accelerated with some key acquisitions and launches, including a relaunch of EquipmentOne, an online-only marketplace that does not require a seller to move the equipment and provides them with more control over the selling price, and Mascus, an equipment listing service.”

According to Barr, Ritchie Bros.’ acquisition of IronPlanet is the next step in its multi-channel diversification strategy, providing customers with an “unprecedented suite of solutions” from the company that includes:

• Live auctions with online bidding (under the Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers brand);

• Weekly online-only auctions (under the IronPlanet brand);

• Online marketplaces with additional seller control over price and process (under both the EquipmentOne and IronPlanet brands);

• Online listing service (under the Mascus brand); and more.

“Initially, when the acquisition closes, our focus will be on getting one sales team on the road selling solutions from both companies as soon as possible,” said Barr. “Each company has a great set of solutions. We won’t be getting rid of any of them. We want our customers to choose whatever solution best suits their needs.”

The Caterpillar alliance is expected to deliver significant benefits to Caterpillar, its independent dealers and their respective customers, Barr added.

“Through the Cat Auction Services brand, we will provide Caterpillar and its dealers with access to our auction platforms, software and other value-added services, to enhance the exchange of information and services between customers, dealers and suppliers,” he said.

Going forward, Ritchie Bros. believes the possibilities are endless when customers experience the company’s passion for customers, its brand strength with more even more technology.

“We are inspired by the vision of leading a digital transformation in the industry,” Barr said.—CEG

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Heavy Construction News – Modeling magma to find copper — ScienceDaily

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Copper is an essential element of our society with main uses in the field of electricity and electronics. About 70% of the copper comes from deposits formed several million years ago during events of magma degassing within Earth’s crust just above subduction zones. Despite similar ore forming processes, the size of these deposits can vary orders of magnitude from one place to another, the main reason of which has remained unclear. A new study led by researchers from the Universities of Geneva (UNIGE, Switzerland) and the Saint-Etienne (France), to be published in Scientific Reports, suggests that the answer may come from the volume of magma emplaced in the crust and proposes an innovative method to better explore these deposits.

Magmas formed above subduction zones contain important amount of water that is essentially degassed during volcanic eruptions or upon magma cooling and solidification at depth. The water escaping from the crystallizing magma at several kilometers below surface carries most of the copper initially dissolved in the magma. On its way toward the surface the magmatic fluids cool and deposit copper in the fractured rocks forming giant metal deposits such as those exploited along the Andean Cordillera.

By modeling the process of magma degassing, the researchers could reproduce the chemistry of the fluids that form metal deposits. “Comparing the model results with available data from known copper deposits, we could link the timescales of magma emplacement and degassing in the crust, the volume of magma, and the size of the deposit,” explains Luca Caricchi, researcher at the UNIGE. The scientists also propose a new method to estimate the size of the deposits, based on high-precision geochronology, one of the specialties of the Department of Earth Sciences in UNIGE’s Science Faculty.

This technique is a new add-in in the prospector toolbox with the possibility to identify deposits with the best potential, early in the long and costly process of mineral exploration. It is anticipated that the computational approach developed in this study can also provide important insights on the role of magma degassing as a potential trigger for volcanic eruptions.

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