Lithium is silvery-white alkali metal that commonly occurs with other alkali metals (sodium, potassium, rubidium, and cesium). It does not occur as a free element in nature and is found in small amounts in igneous and in salt deposits and hypersaline reservoirs from mineral springs (salars) and deep, subsurface aquifers. As the lightest metal on the periodic table, and reactive in that it’s the one most eager to shed its electrons, lithium is the ideal element to make powerful, portable batteries. Other applications include uses to thicken lubricant grease, increase mechanical strength, thermal shock resistance in ceramics and glass, polymer and fine-chemicals production, and medicine.
Continually increasing demand for Lithium to supply the growing need for Electric Vehicle’s and batteries has resulted in a global surge in lithium exploration. Currently, the supply of lithium comes from a small group of producing countries: Australia, Argentina, Chile and China. To meet the demand forecast and secure Lithium supply independence, exploration for Lithium has surged in new areas/deposit types/countries where next generation technology is being developed to support future economic extraction.
Lithium is extracted from two main categories of deposits: mineral and brine. With respect to mineral deposits, lithium is extracted only from pegmatite deposits. Brine deposits include unconfined (continental) and confined (i.e., geothermal, subsurface aquifer, oilfield brines) brine deposits. There are several greenfield brine-based and mineral-based lithium operations worldwide, but many of these deposits have yet to produce lithium commercially. Resource modelling and estimation of lithium-brine deposits requires a multi-disciplinary team to understand and constrain the boundaries of the subsurface aquifer, brine chemistry, hydrology, and evolving rapid, or direct, lithium extraction technologies.
How APEX Helps
APEX has extensive global experience in the exploration, evaluation and mineral resource modelling and estimation of Lithium brine deposits. APEX has worked in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia), southern United States (Arkansas and California), central Europe (Germany, Italy), South America (Argentina), and other international destinations.
Most of APEX’s work has been conducted on brine deposits that include deep subsurface, confined aquifers and near-surface brine salar plays.
APEX has extensive experience in the completion of mineral resource estimations and Technical Reports for Lithium brine deposits. APEX has completed over 20 Li-brine NI 43-101 Technical Reports:
- 14 initial (maiden) resources or in-preparation initial (maiden) resources, and
- 4 of 17 projects to date have been taken to the PEA or higher technical report level.
APEX often coordinates and oversees a multidisciplinary team of Qualified Person’s (QP’s) in accordance with CIM best practice guidelines for Lithium brine mineral resources and reserves (2019). This includes geologists, hydrogeologists, and chemical engineers.