Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
13.3 Exploration and extraction of key battery commodities for e-mobility
Wednesday, 22/Sept/2021:
9:00am - 10:30am

Session Chair: Andreas Barth, Beak Consultants GmbH
Session Chair: Stephan Peters, DMT GmbH & Co. KG

Session Abstract

The growing need for energy storage for e-mobility and other battery-intense applications has created a large interest in the key battery commodity Lithium (Li) as well as other critical raw materials like Ni, Co, Cu and graphite. Current forecasts assume that Li-ion battery technologies will be the prevalent battery technology for the foreseeable future. Especially the need for e-vehicle batteries with high energy densities will see the demand for Li increase more than 3-fold until 2025. The strongly growing demand for raw materials used in e-mobility have raised concerns regarding the long-term supply availability of these commodities.The session shall highlight current activities in exploration and extraction of critical raw materials for e-mobility and availability of resources and reserves in Europe and worldwide. 

9:00am - 9:30am
Session Keynote

Industrial revolution 4.1 - Critical raw materials and their role in the shift towards renewable energy generation and e-mobility

Ernst Bernhard Teigler, Stephan Peters, Torsten Gorka

DMT GmbH & Co. KG, Germany

Most countries are by now committed to the Paris Agreement, which deals mainly with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and financing thereof. Crucial pillars driving this greenhouse gas diminution are renewable energies and e-mobility. As in any industrial revolution, this fundamental shift from “fossil energy” towards renewable energies and e-mobility, requires new technologies and associated new suite of raw materials, without which this shift will not be possible or at least significantly delayed.

Energy storage is one of the key challenges to a successful shift. One way to store energy are new generation batteries. The growing need for energy storage for e-mobility and other battery-intense applications has created a large interest in the key battery commodity Li as well as other critical raw materials like Ni, Co, Cu and graphite. Current forecasts assume that Li-ion battery technologies will be the prevalent battery technology for the foreseeable future. Public domain data suggest very significant increases in commodity demand, if 100 % e-mobility is to be achieved. Considering current market volumes, demands for Li and Co will increase far over 1500 %, while demands for REE and graphite will exceed 500 %. Demand on Cu will moderately increase. In contrast, need for steel and PGM may decrease.

This extraordinary strong growth of demands for these critical raw materials used in e-mobility have raised concerns regarding long-term supply. Exploration, mining and processing are challenged to adapt and to produce these commodities in order to achieve this new industrial revolution.

9:30am - 9:45am

Battery metal exploration targets in the Erzgebirge from stream sediment geochemistry and mineral predictive mapping with self-organizing maps

Andreas Brosig, Andreas Barth, Peggy Hielscher, Claus Legler, Stefan Schaefer, Peter Bock, Andreas Knobloch

Beak Consultants GmbH, Germany

A 50-element stream sediment geochemistry survey with a sample density of one sample per km² shows anomalies for a number of high technology metals, including Sn, W and the battery metals Co and Li. Apart from the anomalies associated with known deposits, low-level anomalies of Li and Co are widespread in anchimetamorphic to greenschist facies metasedimentary rocks. Li anomalies are prominent in Phycoden Group phyllites in the Vogtland and parts of the Frauenbach and Thum Groups in the West Erzgebirge Transverse zone. Co is enriched in the Brunndöbra Subformation (Klingenthal Group) where it is probably associated with Besshi-type massive sulfide mineralisations.

We use self-organizing maps (SOM), a type of artificial neural network (ANN), for data analysis and data fusion with geophysical and structural-lithologic data to identify areas of interest for further exploration. Using known deposits as training data, the SOM-transformed data are converted to mineral predictive maps with a multi layer perceptron, a different type of ANN. This combined machine learning approach overcomes some of the problems in applying ANNs to mineral predictive mapping, in particular the problem of imbalanced training data.

The paper has been compiled in the frame of "NEXT - New EXploration Technologies" project. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 776804.

9:45am - 10:00am

Occurrences and mineralogy of lithium pegmatite in eastern Canada and for example the Georgia Lake pegmatite in more detail

Stephan Peters, Florian Lowicki, Ernst-Bernhard Teigler, Torsten Gorka, Florian Beier, Jana Rechner

DMT GmbH & Co. KG, Germany

Eastern Canada hosts several occurrences of lithium pegmatite, which have recently come into the focus of exploration activities and detailed studies. Driven by the current and expected future demand for Li, the mineral occurrences are targeted by exploration companies.

This area in Canada is currently in the focus for targeting the mineral occurrences of lithium pegmatite.

The majority of the pegmatite are hosted in metasediments or biotite-rich granite. In the more northern part the host rock becomes also greenstone. These pegmatite are very old up to 2.6 billion years old.

The latest update of the exploration data and statistical modelling combined with a more detail mine plan some new results will be presented for some of the Georgia lake pegmatite.

The lithium mineralisation in these pegmatite is in many cases the spodumen. This light green pyroxene is often bid as an finger and builds up to 20 % of the volume of the pegmatite. In addition, previous work also identified beryl, columbite, molybdenite, amblygonite, apatite, and bityite, enhancing the Li and rare metals potential of the area.

The pegmatite has different thickness and length. The bigger ones are up to a mile long and in some cases up to 20 m wide. Sometimes they split up in parallel dikes. The Li2O contend of the pegmatite varying from 0 up to 2,7 %. During the investigation some million tonnes of resources were defined with an average Li2O contend of around 1 %.

10:00am - 10:15am

Recovery of lithium by ion-exchange in zeolitic materials

Rosa Micaela Danisi, Frank Schilling

Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, Germany

More than 70% of the global lithium resources are not solid minerals but dissolved salts within continental brines or geothermal waters. Critical issues in the exploitation of such deposit include low Li concentrations and high level of impurities that need to be discarded.

One of the most important methods for Li acquisition from brines is ion-exchange. In this perspective, the use of zeolitic materials as ion-exchangers in lithium extractions can potentially represent a fast and cheap alternative to traditional methods. In ion-exchange processes, the anionic charge of the host structure is compensated by Li+ cations. Because of the high charge density, the Li+ cations can interact relatively strongly with the host framework and therefore significantly distort it. We examined this effect at the atomic scale and highlight the structural distortion upon Li-exchange in vanadosilicate zeotypes. Using X-ray diffraction, we were able to precisely locate the Li cations within the framework and characterize the structure. Differences in the position and bond energy of the cationic sites strongly affected the extent and kinetics of the cation exchange. Thus, we observe Li+ exclusion at specific exchange sites. This appears to be directly linked to the coordination requirements of the Li-cations with the framework oxygen atoms. Our findings might contribute to a rational design and functionalization of zeolitic material to efficiently extract lithium from brines.

10:15am - 10:30am

With World-Class Graphite, Pula Proves African Jr's as Innovative & Ethical Influences

Mary Stith

The Pula Group, United States of America

With a world-class graphite project in Tanzania (East Africa), The Pula Group, LLC is committed to a greener future. The high-quality graphite mineralization includes jumbo flakes developed to a depth of 60 meters, a key driver ensuring the project economics are strong. The Pula graphite deposits are extensions of the Nachu graphite deposits. PGP is taking a modular approach to mining and processing graphite, an innovative and efficient approach to optimize the success of the project during the ramp-up phase. This adaptive approach to mining helps mitigate economic risk and the "too big to fail" attitude that has sunk many large-scale mining projects. The PGP model provides a clear way to reignite the capacity for junior mining companies to activate the sector with minimal risk and maximum benefit to communities.

Along with the high caliber of its Tanzanian graphite opportunity, The Pula Group, a U.S.-based company, is setting high ethical standards in the mining sector. The Group's subsidiary for developing the project is Pula Graphite Partners (PGP), a 50-50 joint venture with local strategic partners. Even during the exploration phase, PGP already has a superior track record of philanthropy.