Connect with us

Energy

A Cost Comparison: Lithium Brine vs. Hard Rock Exploration

Published

on

A Cost Comparison: Lithium Brine vs. Hard Rock Exploration

A Cost Comparison: Lithium Brine vs. Hard Rock Exploration

Lithium brine exploration infographic presented by: Dajin Resources

Capital is limited in the current mining exploration environment, so investors are increasingly looking for companies that have lower costs of doing business. Over the last four years, we’ve seen large-scale, low-grade projects go out of favour and investor preferences resting with low-CAPEX, high-return projects.

However, it is not only the construction costs and scale of a mine with which companies can save money. It can also be in initial prospecting, exploration, and the development of a project. The key here is for a company to be doing this work in a location setting that is easy to work in from logistical and cost perspectives. If a project is in a remote area in mountainous wilderness that requires setup of a camp and bush planes in and out, the payoff has to be that much higher.

This is where lithium brine deposits come in. Typically, they are located in salars (salt flats) which are flat, arid, and barren areas. This makes the logistics of setting up shop for exploration relatively straightforward, and also removes most topographical challenges of exploration.

Further, there are some other major benefits of lithium brine exploration from a cost perspective that makes it favourable to many hard rock projects. Lithium brine deposits are considered placer deposits and are easier to permit. Brine is also a liquid which means that drilling to find it is more akin to drilling for water, and once it is found the continuity is more straightforward. It’s also typically not located relatively close to surface, which limits the amount of meters drilled.

Once a deposit is discovered, advanced exploration and development can also be at a discount. Drilling wells and testing recovery are more like shallow oil wells or drilling for water. Finally, permitting for construction and production is faster because of the placer classification.

Lithium brine exploration has benefits from the angle of cost that make it less expensive than most comparable hard rock projects. However, their potential also depends on the price of lithium – we cover all of the elements of supply and demand for the light metal in this infographic.

Click for Comments

Batteries

Ranked: The World’s Largest Lithium Producers in 2023

Three countries account for almost 90% of the lithium produced in the world.

Published

on

Voronoi graphic showing the top lithium producers in 2023.

The World’s Largest Lithium Producers in 2023

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Three countries—Australia, Chile, and China—accounted for 88% of lithium production in 2023.

In this graphic, we list the world’s leading countries in terms of lithium production. These figures come from the latest USGS publication on lithium statistics (published Jan 2024).

Australia Leads, China Approaches Chile

Australia, the world’s leading producer, extracts lithium directly from hard-rock mines, specifically from the mineral spodumene.

The country saw a big jump in output over the last decade. In 2013, Australia produced 13,000 metric tons of lithium, compared to 86,000 metric tons in 2023.

RankCountryLithium production 2023E (metric tons)
1🇦🇺 Australia86,000
2🇨🇱 Chile44,000
3🇨🇳 China33,000
4🇦🇷 Argentina9,600
5🇧🇷 Brazil4,900
6🇨🇦 Canada3,400
7🇿🇼 Zimbabwe3,400
8🇵🇹 Portugal380
🌍 World Total184,680

Chile is second in rank but with more modest growth. Chilean production rose from 13,500 tonnes in 2013 to 44,000 metric tons in 2023. Contrary to Australia, the South American country extracts lithium from brine.

China, which also produces lithium from brine, has been approaching Chile over the years. The country increased its domestic production from 4,000 metric tons in 2013 to 33,000 last year.

Chinese companies have also increased their ownership shares in lithium producers around the globe; three Chinese companies are also among the top lithium mining companies. The biggest, Tianqi Lithium, has a significant stake in Greenbushes, the world’s biggest hard-rock lithium mine in Australia.

Argentina, the fourth country on our list, more than tripled its production over the last decade and has received investments from other countries to increase its output.

With all the top producers increasing output to cover the demand from the clean energy industry, especially for electric vehicle (EV) batteries, the lithium market has seen a surplus recently, which caused prices to collapse by more than 80% from a late-2022 record high.

Continue Reading
Visualizing Asia's Water Dilemma

Subscribe

Popular