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Mining Company Altamin Develops Geothermal Brine as Lithium Source in Italy

published: 2022-03-15 9:30

Geothermal power generation is a renewable energy source. However, the site of geothermal power generation can also provide more for the energy field. The lithium required for lithium batteries is actually not a rare element in the earth's crust, ranking 27th in abundance. However, there are very few high-concentrations of lithium ore. Geothermal brine dissolves high-concentration minerals, including lithium and becomes a possible source of lithium mining.

Altamin, an Australian-listed metal mining company, originally owned zinc, cobalt, and other mines in Australia and Italy. Now it has obtained an exploration license in the Lagio region near Rome in order to join the ranks of lithium miners, focusing on Italy’s rich geothermal brine resources. Altamin has started a geothermal brine-based lithium-mining attempt in Cesano, 50 kilometers north of Rome, with an exploration permit covering 3,240 hectares of development.

Since the beginning of the 20th century starting in Tuscany, Italy has carried out a considerable amount of geothermal development. Geothermal power generation is already a mature industry in Italy and the Tuscany and Lagio regions are some of the most intensively developed areas. Since the mid-1970s to the 1990s, more than 800 geothermal wells have been excavated, mainly in southern Tuscany and northern Lagio.

The Cesano area is also a geothermal development hotspot and its geothermal brine contains high concentrations of minerals. The Cesano C1 test well is 1,390 meters deep and had its geothermal brine tested for lithium levels up to 350-380 mg per liter, higher than the highest lithium concentration in the United States, 200 mg per liter in the Salton Lakes geothermal brine in California.

Many geothermal wells are at a depth of 2,000 meters and some are more than 4,000 meters deep. A large number of geothermal wells drilled in the past have become an established pipeline for easy assessment of geology and lithium content. In addition to assessing lithium content they can also be used to assess cobalt content.

With the huge increase in demand for lithium batteries, this source of lithium has been receiving more and more attention. Geothermal brine is now becoming an increasingly important source of lithium, especially since geothermal power generation can be used directly as green energy, ensuring that the mining of lithium is zero carbon emissions. If the development of lithium mining from geothermal brine goes smoothly, it will become a major force in the development of the lithium battery industry.

(Image:Dnn87, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

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