Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 10:00-11:00am (Pacific Time)
TITLE: Occurrence, Evaluation and Exploitation of Lithium Deposits
Lithium has become a major focus for mining and exploration investment over the last decade with increasingly widespread uses of lithium batteries as alternative power supply for torches, cars and even Australian states. In addition, the commodity is geologically and geographically widespread and the current total known resource exceeds more than 62 Mt Li. Coupled with improvements in recycling and the typical 250,000-3000,000 tpa consumption currently predicted through to 2100 means that Lithium is unlikely to be in short supply but will be a critical raw material for society globally. Geological variability of Lithium deposits reflects the chemistry of the element. Four broad types of economic lithium deposit: 1) peralkaline and peraluminous pegmatite deposits and their associated metasomatic rocks; 2) Li-rich hectorite clays derived from volcanic deposits; 3) salar evaporites and 4) geothermal deposits. Spodumene-bearing pegmatites are currently the most important economic deposits, typically have 0.5 Mt Li, and are also easiest to exploit. Salar deposits hold the largest Li reserves, can reach up to 7 Mt Li, but are more difficult to exploit. Volcanic hosted deposits are an unknown in terms of extent and have potential to compete with Salar deposits for size but are metallurgically more challenging. Geothermal deposits as a source of lithium are the latest in this stable of deposit types for this versatile element and work is still ongoing in identifying resources, mechanisms of formation and exploitation. This presentation will review the geology, extraction and processing of Lithium to determine remaining challenges and future trends for research and societies use of the commodity.
Robert Bowell is a Corporate Consultant with SRK Consulting and also an adjunct professor in Dept Earth Sciences at Queen’s. He holds degrees in chemistry, geology, chemical engineering and geochemistry. He has 32 years of experience in the global mining industry. His background is in exploration and mining in tropical and deeply weathered terrains. For the last 25 years he has worked in mining consulting in the fields of due diligence, financial and technical audits, process chemistry, environmental geochemistry, environmental engineering and mineralogy. Specializes in the application of chemistry and mineralogy to solve engineering problems.