Background: Lithium and geothermal, the types of brine deposits
There are three different types of lithium deposits, brines, pegmatites and sedimentary rocks. Geothermal brine is then one of three brine deposits for lithium and a particularly interesting source due to it being more economic in the extraction process.
Having covered the ambitions of several companies to derive lithium from geothermal brine, I found an article that looks at the different types of Lithium Brine Deposits, published by Lithium Investing News rather interesting.
The article mentions three different types of lithium deposits, brines, pegmatites and sedimentary rocks and looks at the brine deposits.
Generally, so the article, lithium extraction from brine sources has proven more economical than production from hard-rock ore.
“There are three types of lithium brine deposits: continental, geothermal and oil field. The most common are continental saline desert basins (also known as salt lakes, salt flats or salars). They are located in areas with geothermal activity and are made up of sand, minerals with brine and saline water with a high concentration of dissolved salts. A playa is a type of brine deposit whose surface is composed mostly of silts and clays; playas have less salt than a salar.”
About 66 percent of global lithium resources are found mostly in the salt flats of Chile, Argentina, China and Tibet.
The three lithium brine deposits are continental (Argentina, Chile and Bolivia), geothermal (New Zealand, Iceland, Chile are named, with the Salton Sea in California being described as the best-known example of geothermal lithium brine deposits, and oil fields that might contain lithium deposits.
The most important and common form of lithium containing brine comes from continental lithium brine deposits in the Andes of Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
The story of Simbol Materials that nearly was bought up by Tesla for $325 million, had been developing technology to derive lithium from geothermal brine. The company disappeared but its remains was bought by a company close to Controlled Thermal Resources that is planning the development of a geothermal power plant in the Salton Sea. Nearby EnergySource is planning something similar and there are other interested parties in the region. Berkshire Hathaway (MidAmerican Energy/ CalEnergy) has announced plans of lithium extraction. Another lithium from geothermal brine project recently secured funding in Cornwall, UK and MGX Minerals has projects in Chile and Nevada.
The hype clearly started with Tesla’s Gigafactory, which started a certain rush for lithium in the state of Nevada in the U.S. and internationally.
Now the race is on for the companies pushing this particular approach to deriving lithium, who will be successfull? – time will tell. But with the incredibly huge demand with an electrification of transport worldwide, the market should be big enough for most of them.
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Source: Lithium Investing News