Massive lithium deposit found in Sichuan

By Shan Jie Source:Global Times Published: 2017/12/25 21:23:39

Authorities should protect mining, create strategic reserve: expert


A giant lithium deposit found in Southwest China's Sichuan Province this year should reduce China's reliance on imports as energy experts called for protection of its exploitation and the creation of a strategic reserve.

A 519,500-ton lithium deposit was found this year at Keeryin Ore Concentration Area, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan, the Institute of Multipurpose Utilization of Mineral Resources in Chengdu, Sichuan under China Geological Survey confirmed with the Global Times on Monday.

The outcrop ore bodies were 88 to 1,553 meters long and two to 35 meters wide and a massive ore deposit, the institute indicated in a notice on its website in November.

More than 2,000 tons of rubidium were also detected in the area.

The breakthrough suggests that Keeryin still has the potential for more mineral resources and could contribute to making Aba the "lithium valley" of China, the institute said.

"China is one of the biggest consumers of lithium, which is mainly used to make batteries for electric automobiles and bicycles," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Monday.

With new energy cars, lithium's value is obvious. A shortage of lithium could limit development of the industry, Lin noted.

China relies on imports for 80 percent of its cobalt and 70 percent of its lithium and nickel, the Xinhua News Agency reported in November.

"Apart from finding the deposit, the government should strengthen control of exploitation of the lithium mine and make a strategic reserve out of it," Lin said, noting that legislation is also necessary to protect such resources.

Global lithium demand will increase to 1 million tons in 2026 from 189,000 tons in 2016, mainly because of the battery industry, according to cbea.com, an energy-related news website under the China Industrial Association of Power Sources.

China's consumption of lithium in 2016 accounted for 47 percent of the world, cbea.com reported on Monday.

Chinese auto manufacturer Great Wall in September secured an agreement with Western Australian mining company Pilbara Minerals to ensure lithium supply for their electric car range, according to the Xinhua report.

Currently the Pilgangoora operation has a capacity of about 2 million tons of lithium a year, but the new deal should see the figure rise to more than 5 million tons.



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