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Early indications point to large Lithium-Brine resource at Insheim geothermal site, Germany

Insheim geothermal power plant, Germany (source: Vulcan Energy Resources)
Alexander Richter 22 Jan 2020

Vulcan Energy Resources, a mineral exploration company reports large indicated mineral resources of contained Lithium Carbonate Equivalent on site of the Insheim license, a geothermal power plant site in Germany.

In a release this week, Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. announced the completion of the maiden Indicated Lithium-Brine Mineral Resource Estimate at the Insheim Licence, in the Upper Rhine Valley (or Upper Rhine Graben) of South-West Germany.

The resource estimation (and previous Vulcan resource estimations) were completed by APEX Geoscience Ltd. and were conducted in consideration of, and in accordance with JORC (2012). Vulcan has acquired direct access to lithium-enriched brine at the operating Insheim Geothermal Plant and Insheim Exploitation Licence via a binding Memorandum of Understanding with German utility Pfalzwerke geofuture GmbH (announced November 26, 2019; Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd., 2019, we reported).

Key highlights of the report shared by Vulcan Energy Resources  indicate a mineral resource of 722,000 t of contained Lithium Carbonate Equivalent (LCE), at the Insheim Licence with a lithium brine grade of 181 mg/l Li.

This puts, Vulcan’s combined global resource now estimated at 13.95 Mt LCE (Indicated & Inferred) at 2 of 6 licences, the largest JORC-compliant Lithium Resource in Europe. With that the company sees the scoping study on track for completion in Q1 2020 and representing the fastest growing lithium project in the world with its Zero Carbon Lithium (TM) project.

The Insheim Geothermal Plant is currently pumping hot (approximately 165 degrees Celsius), high-flow, lithium-enriched brine from aquifer depths of >2,980 m to the surface for power generation. Pfalzwerke geofuture GmbH is not processing or extracting lithium as part of the power generation circuit before the reinjecting the brine back down into the reservoir and the Memorandum of Understanding grants Vulcan an initial collaboration period that allows access to the Insheim Licence brine and data, with a pathway to construct a lithium extraction demonstration plant at Insheim in the future.

The agreement marks a material milestone for Vulcan as the Company has obtained access (and a pathway to co-production lithium rights) to lithium-enriched brine from within the deep aquifer underlying the Insheim Exploitation Licence. The Insheim Licence is 19 square kilometres and brings Vulcan’s total land position in the Upper Rhine Graben to 807.19 square kilometres (80,719 hectares).

A total of 7 cross-sectional slices of interpreted geology from surface to basement spaced approximately 1 km apart were used to create the 3-D subsurface stratigraphic model. The original cross-sections were derived from GeORG, a publicly-available digital geological atlas of geothermal information. The subsurface model for the Insheim Licence was validated against 2-D seismic profiles and geothermal well data provided by Pfalzwerke geofuture GmbH.

Managing Director, Dr. Francis Wedin commented: “With Vulcan’s Maiden Indicated Mineral Resource Estimate at Insheim, we are continuing to advance our Zero Carbon Lithium™ project at a rapid rate. The use of data from producing wells at Insheim allows for increased confidence in the resource category used. It increases the size of the JORC lithium resource at the Vulcan Project, already easily the largest in Europe, and increasingly highlights the potential for it to be the primary source for the European battery industry’s lithium hydroxide needs, via a low-impact, Zero Carbon Lithium™ process powered by and sourced from geothermal wells. The supply-demand dynamic is compelling: European lithium-ion battery production is the fastest growing in the world, with new capacity plans announced regularly, but this market has zero local supply of battery-quality lithium hydroxide. We next look forward to updating our shareholders on our Scoping Study, the results of which are on track to be reported this quarter.”

Source: Company release (full release, pdf)