Simbol Mining Extracts Lithium form Geothermal Brines

Simbol uses a technique licensed from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to precipitate out the silicates found in Salton Sea groundwater

Published: 14-Dec-2009

A GEOTHERMAL power plant in California will soon be producing more than just electricity. The valuable metal lithium could be extracted from its hot waste water.

The technique, developed by California-based Simbol Mining, could bolster lithium supplies at a time when they are being squeezed by our growing reliance on high-density batteries. Global lithium consumption is projected to increase threefold by 2020 as electric cars and energy storage in the electrical grid become more common.

Lithium is usually extracted from soil, in a process that consumes a lot of water, or from brine dried in large salt ponds. The geothermal waters at the Salton Sea, about 250 kilometres inland and on top of the active San Andreas fault, are just as lithium-rich as the most productive brine lakes in Bolivia and Chile. Simbol says Salton's waters can be exploited with a much smaller environmental footprint.

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