What is Lithium?
Lithium is the lightest and least dense metal found on the periodic table, and as a good conductor of electricity it is ideal for use in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. There are only two main commercial sources of lithium: mineral/hard-rock (pegmatites) and lithium brine deposits. About 45% of the world’s lithium comes from hard rock; 55% from brines.
Hard rock, or mineral, lithium is a type of rock which contains the lithium-bearing mineral spodumene. Western Australia has a large percentage of hard rock lithium resources and several open pit mines. Key deposits of spodumene are found in Canada, Brazil and Zimbabwe.
Lithium brine deposits occur in high altitude salars (salt lakes). Lithium-bearing brine is pumped to solar evaporation ponds. A concentrated lithium brine will produce 3-6% lithium content and be further processed into a lithium chemical. Key deposits of lithium brine are found in Chile, Argentina and China.