Lithium is one of the key mineral needed for the green-energy transition due to its use in batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles, as well as in digital solutions that deliver efficiencies across industries. It allows for the storage of energy produced by solar, tidal and wind sources, aiding efforts to decarbonise the energy market.
A recent report from Fitch Solutions forecast global lithium production will more than triple from 442,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate-equivalent (LCE) in 2020 to 1.5 million tonnes of LCE by 2030. With such a dynamic backdrop, it is no surprise that lithium extraction landscape is evolving with numerous new projects slated to come online in the coming years.
Having been involved in lithium extraction for 25 years, these recent developments have led to some exciting projects for FLSmidth, including two new engineering agreements.
In the US, FLSmidth was chosen to provide product engineering for the first phase of ioneer’s Rhyolite Ridge lithium-boron project. ioneer expects to mine and process 63.8 million metric tonnes over the 26-year mine life, at an average annual rate of 2.5 million metric tonnes per year.
Bernard Rowe, Managing Director at ioneer, reflected on the need for low environmental footprint when announcing the FLSmidth partnership: “FLSmidth’s MissionZero strategy is focused on environmentally sound mining engineering and technology solutions. This aligns with ioneer’s ambition to not only produce materials necessary for electric vehicles and renewable energy, but to extract them in an efficient and environmentally responsible manner through lowered emissions, significantly reduced water usage and a small surface footprint.”
It was also recently announced that Keliber – a Finnish company focused on producing sustainable, battery-grade lithium hydroxide for the battery industry – has appointed FLSmidth to provide process engineering services at its Päiväneva concentrator plant.
Keliber and FLSmidth agreed on the provision of process, layout and mechanical engineering services at the concentrator, with Hannu Hautala, CEO of Keliber, commenting: “We have chosen a partner with considerable experience in the mining industry, including lithium production. Our goal is to build a world-class plant that utilises the best available technology, which means safe, environmentally friendly and cost-optimised production.”
FLSmidth Mining President, Mikko Keto, added: “These projects provide clear recognition of our experience, know-how, and world class technologies for processing lithium. It is a strong proof-point of our know-how in the lithium arena, where we have been active for a quarter of a century. It is also important to note that our localised approach and strength in service and aftermarket have played a role in being chosen as the partner for ioneer and Keliber."
Lithium is playing a major role in efforts to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions from energy generation, and therefore supports the aims of FLSmidth MissionZero sustainability ambitions.