Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Chernobyl graveyard, Ukraine

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Zone of Alienation is an officially designated exclusion area around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. It is also commonly known as the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the 30 Kilometre Zone, or simply The Zone.
Established by the USSR military soon after the 1986 disaster, it initially existed as an area of 30 km radius from the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant designated for evacuation and placed under military control. Its borders have since been altered to cover a larger area of Ukraine.
The Exclusion Zone's purpose is to restrict access to hazardous areas, reduce the spread of radiological contamination and conduct radiological and ecological monitoring activities.

Today the Exclusion Zone is one of the most radioactively contaminated areas in the world and draws scientific interest for the high levels of radiation exposure in the environment, as well as increasing interest from tourists

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Sewage Sludge good as Gold

Precious metals worth an estimated £13m are flushed down UK sinks and drains each year.

Gold, silver and platinum end up in sludge with the washing of hands (rubbing gold rings) and brushing of gold teeth. Cars deposit traces of platinum in drains from catalytic converters and precious metals are increasingly used in shampoos, detergents and even in nanoparticles in clothes. The result is a level of gold in sewage systems comparable to that found in working mines.
Earlier this year, researchers from Arizona State University found that a city of a million people can produce around $13m worth of precious metals annually, including $2.6m in silver and gold. They found that amounts of the 13 most valuable elements, including silver, copper, gold and platinum, were worth about $280 US ($350 Cdn) per tonne of sludge. Researchers noted that cities currently pay about $300 to $400 per tonne to get rid of their sewage sludge or biosolids.

At a sewage treatment facility in the industrial town of Suwa, north-west of Tokyo, they’re incinerating sludge and processing the molten ash. In 2009 the plant reported a yield of gold to rival production levels at the world’s leading mines. It collected nearly two kilograms of gold in every ton of ash.
About 60% of the sewage sludge in the United States is spread on fields and forests as fertilizer. The remaining sludge is burned in incinerators or dumped in landfills.

Cost is one of the chief barriers keeping sewage treatment plants from going for the gold.
All that glitters is gold in the sewers of Chickpet
The streets may not be paved with gold but the gutters of Chickpet, Bangalore is an El Dorado. At least for the workers who, at the break of dawn, descend on a maze of lanes near the K R Market area to slip into the murky pits that receive the overnight and morning ablutions of the locals. They are looking for gold.

In the early hours, manholes with covers removed are guarded by boys to warn drivers of vehicles. One might assume the band is on a cleanliness drive or mistake them for manual scavengers hired by civic agencies to clean the sewers.

The area is a major hub for goldsmiths and jewellers. There are more than 300 goldsmiths in this area who are the design supply chain for some of the top jewellers in the city.

The gold dust from these workshops lands in the drains when the goldsmiths wash up at the end of the day or gets strewn on pathways as powder. That is the mother lode for the young boys are purposefully hunting for gold.
Once it is collected, the gold is sold to dealers in the same area.

A goldsmith for the past 45 years explains "When we're melting gold, there's a small amount of wastage -- for every 10 gm, at least 1 gm is lost.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Famous Diamonds

The Blue Empress is a spectacular 14 carat, symmetrical pear-shaped, fancy vivid blue diamond.

The stone was mined at the Premier Diamond Mine in South Africa and was purchased from De Beers by the Steinmetz Group. It was first offered for sale by London’s Harrods in 2003 for £10 million.
The 67.50-carat, cushion-cut Black Orlov is named black but is the colour of gun metal. Like the story behind the famous Hope diamond, legend has it that the Black Orlov was an uncut black stone of 195 carats, pried out of the eye (forehead) of the statute of the sacred Hindu God Brahma from a temple in Southern India.

The diamond turned up in Russia, where it was bought by Princess Nadia Vyegin Orlov. It was purchased in 1947 by Charles F Winson who sold it to an unknown buyer in 1969 for $300,000.
The Paragon Diamond is one of the more unusually shaped diamonds. It is a 7 sided diamond that measures 137.82 carts and is rated a flawless D in color. The necklace currently belongs to the Graff Company and is set in combination necklace - bracelet setting.

The gem was mined in Brazil.
The Donnersmarck Diamonds are two yellow diamonds, named after their one time owner Henckel von Donnersmarc. One, a baguette-shaped diamond weighing 102.54 carats, was sold for $3.246 million.

The second, tear drop in shape and weighing 82.48 carats, was sold for $4.666 million.
The Sun-Drop Diamond at 110 carats is the world’s largest yellow diamond. It sold at auction for $10.91m in 2011.

It was found in South Africa in 2010. The stone was cut as a Pear Brilliant, also called Drop Cut.
The Kazanjian Red Diamond is an extraordinary 5.05-carat red gem on temporary display in the Museum's Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems. Red diamonds are the rarest among colored diamonds. Only three 5-carat red diamonds are known to exist: the Kazanjian Red diamond, the trilliant-cut 5.11-carat Moussaieff Red, and the 5.03-carat De Young Red.

The original 35-carat piece of rough was discovered in Lichtenburg, South Africa
The Spoonmaker's Diamond is a 86 carat pear-shaped diamond, pride of the Imperial Treasury exhibitions at the Topkapi Palace Museum, Tehran.