Himalayan Surprise: Chinese Scientists Find Enormous Lithium Deposit

published: 2022-02-17 17:35 | editor: | category: News

As Bloomberg reported, a group of Chinese scientists found an extensive lithium source on Mount Everest, possibly containing up to 1.0125 million tons of lithium oxide.

According to the website ScienceNet.cn, a research team funded by the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered a large lithium deposit at the Qiongjiagang peak on Mount Everest, which is likely holding as much as 1.0125 million tons of lithium oxide.

Field research revealed that there are 40 or so cystidium-like, tabuler spodumene-bearing pegmatite dikes with four dike swarms and four ore zones that are concentrated at 5,390–5,581m above sea level. Specifically, the four zones all exceed 1,000m in length; two of them are around 100m wide. The other known equivalents in China are the lithium mine on Bailong Mountain in southern Xinjiang and that at Meika in western Sichuan.

Pegmatites are usually light white rocks with large crystals. The pegmatites located at the Qiongjiagang peak, nevertheless, are mixed with a little light green because of their small spodumene content. The research ream indicated that the light colored granites on Himalayas had never been regarded as a possible reserve of rare metals. After all, a large mass of granites is usually formed through remelting and in-situ emplacement of sedimentary rocks, and thus do not mineralize in most occasions.      

When carrying out an on-site investigation on those light colored granites, the Chinese team identified a high level of crystal fractionation among the rocks. The Himalayan granites were then linked to the mineralization of rare metals—including that of tungsten, tin, niobium, tantalum, beryllium and lithium in southern China—demonstrating strong likelihood of rare metal mineralization. Only after the finding was revealed did the studies at the mountain range increase.

The lithium deposit discovery is good news to China. The demand for lithium batteries has boosted because of the booming development of electric vehicles and improved applications of energy storage systems. Under such circumstances, having local mineral reserves is preferable, which is particularly true to China, where more than 70% of the lithium used is imported. With the ongoing supply shortages and soaring lithium price, the discovery has gained quite some attention. In 2021, lithium carbonate prices skyrocketed by 400% and are still climbing now. Since the beginning of 2022, the compound’s price has soared nearly 50%.    

However, the lithium project is new, where the pre-investigation, general census, detailed survey and exploration have just kicked off. Therefore, a detailed mining plan cannot be devised until the said tasks are done.

 (Credit of the first image [for reference only]: shutterstock)

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