Germany plans to mine boiling hot lithium deep in the Rhine

Berlin — In anticipation of rapidly growing demand from Germany Electric car Industrial, power and mining companies are also striving to expose lithium trapped in underground springs of boiling water thousands of meters below the Rhine.

The Upper Rhine Plain in the Black Forest region of southwestern Germany, which spans areas up to 300 kilometers (186.41 miles) long and 40 kilometers wide, contains enough lithium for more than 400 million people. Electric carGeologists estimate that it is one of the largest deposits in the world.

This could reduce the reliance of the German auto industry, also located in southwestern Germany, on imported lithium, and early talks with automakers are underway.

But skeptics question economics and can be more noisy in densely populated Europe than the remote Australian and South American deserts that were previously sources of lithium. I am suffering from the opposite possibility.

Vulcan Energy Resources, a German-Australian start-up, says it can supply carbon-neutral lithium based on geothermal energy extractions used in up to five power plants planned for construction.

The German utility EnBW already has a geothermal power plant and is investigating whether lithium can be a beneficial by-product.

“The lithium deposits we are talking about are huge and their properties are ideal for our goal of producing high quality lithium on a large industrial scale in Germany,” said Holst, co-founder of the Balkan Energy Resources. Cluter told Reuters.

The company costs 1.7 billion euros ($)2 So far, it has raised about € 75 million to build geothermal power plants and facilities to extract lithium.

By 2024, two sites will extract 15,000 tonnes of lithium hydroxide annually, and in the second phase after 2025, up to three additional sites will target an annual output of 40,000 tonnes.

Cluter says he is already in talks with cathode and battery manufacturers, as well as the automotive industry.

He receives strong support from Hancock Prospecting, led by Chairman Gina Rinehart, one of Australia’s leading investors.

In an email statement, Hancock Prospecting focused on a lithium project that “potentially produces high quality products at competitive costs” and assisted Balkan in developing a pilot plant. He said he was doing it.


Lithium is often referred to as white gold as a component of batteries needed for a low-carbon economy.

However, its economics has a checkered history. Projects were often behind schedule and their prices fluctuated in response to supply bottlenecks and excesses.

Prices soared this year as demand from the electric vehicle sector began to outpace supply.

Kreuter predicts that lithium will be able to maintain prices at least at current levels.

“By 2025, we will calculate in-house at a market price of $ 13,000 per ton of lithium hydroxide,” said Kreuter, who said that extraction costs in Germany “much much more” without making it more specific. It is below. “

The European Union relies on electric vehicles to help achieve its climate goals. Last year, the company planned to add lithium to its list of important raw materials to ensure supply to support green recovery.

The European Commission, an EU executive, estimates that Europe will need up to 18 times more lithium by 2030 and 60 times more by 2050 than it is today.

So far, most of the lithium is imported from a region of South America known as the Lithium Triangle, where it is produced by evaporation from Salar or Shiobara.

Australia’s Hard Rock Lithium is extracted depending on the energy-intensive process, in addition to the carbon cost of shipping it around the world.

In Europe, Portugal is the largest producer of lithium, but its miners sell almost exclusively to the ceramic industry, preparing to produce the high-quality lithium needed for batteries.

Geothermal energy

Even geothermal energy has been criticized in Germany because of the link between lithium production and geothermal energy, but its proponents say it is guaranteed to be an environmentally friendly solution.

Geothermal drilling in 2007 expanded the gypsum underground layer to the extent that houses were lifted and damaged in the beautiful village of Schwarzwald, Staufen.

Thomas Kerbel, a geothermal energy expert at Utility EnBW, who plans to extract lithium from an existing plant in the town of Bruchsal, also in the Black Forest area, said the company could help prevent local opposition. He said he had done as much as he could.

“We have shown at our factory in Bruchsal that there is no extra noise that puts a strain on our neighbors. There are no emissions,” he said.

EnBW estimates that 900 tonnes of lithium are available annually at the Bruchsal site. Lithium will be produced for testing from prototypes around the end of the year and a final decision will be made on the feasibility of the project by 2024.

Automotive industry is showing interest

Some investors are hesitant because they are wondering how quickly commercial-scale extraction of lithium from hot water can be developed in Europe.

“Looking at Balkan’s project development plans, it may be argued that it’s quite novel,” said Leg Spencer, an analyst at Sydney’s Canacode Genuity. Even it wasn’t easy to do. “

However, the prospect of offsetting the cost of lithium production from the sale of geothermal energy could lead to “very low cost lithium production,” he said.

The automotive industry is also interested, but not dependent on it.

Spokesperson Mercedes-Benz The company said it was in early negotiations and would reassess the situation as soon as Balkan could analyze the first exploration material and provide reliable forecasts for deliveries.

A BMW A spokeswoman said the company was monitoring trends in the global lithium market and did not rule out the purchase of lithium in Germany if quality, supply, social and environmental standards were appropriate.

All parties acknowledge that it will take some time before a significant amount is delivered.

Michael Schmidt of the German Mineral Resources Agency (DERA) said that if production expectations in three to four years were met, it would be just in time to alleviate the expected supply bottleneck around mid-2010. It was.

By 2024, he predicts that domestic lithium demand will increase to 9,000 tonnes per year in slow e-mobility deployment scenarios and 32,000 tonnes per year in fast scenarios.

Germany imported about 5,300 tonnes last year.

“One ton of lithium, which Germany does not need to import from abroad, is better for the industry,” Schmidt said.

Germany plans to mine boiling hot lithium deep in the Rhine

Source link Germany plans to mine boiling hot lithium deep in the Rhine

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