The main types, distribution features and present situation of exploration and development for domestic and foreign lithium mine

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With the rapid development of new energy vehicles, lithium as an energy metal is increasingly important in recent years. This paper briefly summarizes the progress of the lithium prospecting both in China and abroad between 2015 and 2016 and the development trend. The authors focus on the progress and prospecting of brine type, hard rock type and other types of lithium ore as well as the hot lithium prospecting areas in the world. Meanwhile, combined with the development of new industry and lithium resources utilization, some suggestions are made on prospecting and exploration of lithium resources in China. People should further understand lithium resources in China and strengthen the prospecting work in key areas so as to provide resources for the construction of large-scale lithium resources base. Geologists should not only focus on the brine type and hard rock type lithium mines but also pay attention to the prospecting for new types of lithium ore so as to improve resource utilization efficiency and promote the transformation and upgrading of related industries. Scientists should begin to study the recycling of lithium and the high- end exploitation and utilization of lithium as an energy metal for occupying the technical key point to provide a scientific basis.

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... Lithium is an important metal for new energy technologies and is in rapidly growing demand. Lithium-bearing pegmatites formed mainly in the Precambrian account for 26% of global Li resources e.g., Bessemer City, USA; Greenbushes, Australia; Bikita, Zimbabwe (Kesler et al., 2012;Liu et al., 2017). Studies of pegmatite-related rare-metal deposits have focused mainly on the formation of the pegmatites and mineral zoning, mineralisation mechanisms, and fluid evolution (London, 1986;Redden and Norton, 1990;Stewart, 1978). ...
The newly discovered Bailongshan pegmatitic lithium–rubidium (Li–Rb) deposit in West Kunlun–Karakorum (western China) is a world-class Li deposit. In this paper, we present detailed field observations and fluid inclusion (FI) data for four major mineral zones at Bailongshan; i.e., the fine albite (FAZ), blocky feldspar (BFZ), quartz–muscovite (QMZ), and spodumene–quartz (SQZ) zones. FIs are abundant in quartz and spodumene, and include four types: (1) two-phase L-type, (2) two-phase V-type, (3) three-phase S-type, and (4) three-phase (CO2–H2O–NaCl) or two-phase (CO2-rich) C-type. Quartz contains all four FI types, whereas spodumene contains mainly C-type FIs. Microthermometric measurements show that the L-type FIs in the FAZ, BFZ, and SQZ homogenised at 283–338, 156–224, and 223–421 °C, respectively, with corresponding salinities of 15.4–26.5, 4.4–10.4, and 10.5–30.6 wt% NaCl equivalent. The S-type FIs in the FAZ and SQZ homogenised at 183–285 and 214–298 °C, respectively. The C-type FIs in spodumene and quartz homogenised at 256–321 and 234–286 °C, with corresponding salinities of 4.4–18.1 and 4.4–12.6 wt% NaCl equivalent, respectively. The ore-forming fluids were of medium–low-temperature and medium–low-salinity, and no systematic fluid compositional variations were identified in each zone. The average CO2 densities and trapping pressures were estimated at 0.72–0.91 g/cm³ and 3.00–3.75 kb, respectively, corresponding to mineralisation depths of 9–11 km. Supercritical fluids likely contributed to the concentration of ore-forming elements in the fluids, and fluid boiling may have led to CO2 degassing and Li ore deposition. H–O isotope data show that quartz grains from all four zones have δ¹⁸OV-SMOW values of 8.6‰–10.2‰ and δDV-SMOW values of −38‰ to 107‰. The ore-forming fluids were likely sourced from pegmatitic magmas.
The Jiajika granitic- and pegmatite-type lithium deposit, which is in the Songpan-Garze Orogenic Belt in western Sichuan Province, China, is the largest in Asia. Previous studies have examined the geochemistry and mineralogy of pegmatites and their parental source rocks to determine the genesis of the deposit. However, the evolution of magmatic-hydrothermal fluids has received limited attention. We analyzed He–Ar–H–O isotopes to decipher the ore-fluid nature and identify the contribution of fluids to mineralization in the late stage of crystallization differentiation. In the Jiajika ore field, two-mica granites, pegmatites (including common pegmatites and spodumene pegmatites), metasandstones, and schists are the dominant rock types exposed. Common pegmatites derived from early differentiation of the two-mica granitic magmas before they evolved into spodumene pegmatites during the late stage of the magmatic evolution. Common pegmatites have 3He/4He ratios that vary from 0.18 to 4.68 Ra (mean 1.62 Ra), and their 40Ar/36Ar ratios range from 426.70 to 1408.06 (mean 761.81); spodumene pegmatites have 3He/4He ratios that vary from 0.18 to 2.66 Ra (mean 0.87 Ra) and their 40Ar/36Ar ratios range from 402.13 to 1907.34 (mean 801.65). These data indicate that the hydrothermal fluids were shown a mixture of crust- and mantle-derived materials, and the proportion of crust-derived materials in spodumene pegmatites increases significantly in the late stage of the magmatic evolution. The δ18OH2O–VSMOW values of common pegmatites range from 6.2‰ to 10.9‰, with a mean value of 8.6‰, and δDV–SMOW values vary from − 110‰ to − 72‰, with a mean of − 85‰. The δ18OH2O–VSMOW values of spodumene pegmatites range from 5.3‰ to 13.2‰, with a mean of 9.1‰, and δDV–SMOW values vary from − 115‰ to − 77‰, with a mean of − 91‰. These data suggest that the ore-forming fluids came from primary magmatic water gradually mixing with more meteoric water in the late stage of the magmatic evolution. Based on the He–Ar–H–O and other existing data, we propose that the ore-forming metals are mainly derived from the upper continental crust with a minor contribution from the mantle, and the fluid exsolution and addition of meteoric water during the formation of pegmatite contributed to the formation of the Jiajika superlarge lithium deposit.
The sharp increase in the demand for lithium (Li) for high-energy-storage battery materials due to its high specific energy and low negative chemical potential render Li a geopolitically significant resource. It is urgent to develop a low-cost, efficient method to improve lithium extraction. Herein, Li ion (Li+) adsorption in coal-bearing strata kaolinite (CSK) was studied. The effects of pre-activation acid leaching (meta-kaolinite/H2SO4, MK-HS) and dimethyl sulfoxide intercalation (coal-bearing strata kaolinite/dimethyl sulfoxide, CSK-DMSO) on the Li+ adsorption capacity were studied under the same adsorption conditions. The results indicated that the adsorption was completed in 60 min under alkaline conditions (pH = 8.5), a high solution concentration (400 mg/L), and a low dosage (1 g/100 mL); and the comprehensive adsorption capacity is MK-HS > CSK-DMSO > CSK. Furthermore, the DMSO intercalation caused the interlayer spacing of the CSK to increase, which provided more space for Li+ to enter and increase the adsorption capacity. After thermal pre-activation and acid leaching, structural failure and lattice collapse resulted in the presence of more micropores in the MK-HS, which resulted in a 10-fold increase in its specific surface area and caused coordination bond changes (Al(VI) to Al(IV)) and leaching of aluminum (Al) from the lattice. It is proposed that these structural changes greatly improve the activity of CSK so that Li+ cannot only adsorb onto the surface and between the layers but can also enter the lattice defects, which results in the MK-HS having the best adsorption performance. Combined with the adsorption kinetics analysis, the adsorption methods of CSK and two modified materials include physical adsorption and chemical adsorption. In this study, the adsorption capacity of CSK and its modified products to Li were explored, providing a new option for the reuse of CSK and the extraction of Li.
Electrochemical lithium (Li) extraction from low-grade salt lake brine, when powered by off-grid renewables, represents a potential approach to meeting the substantially increasing demand for battery-grade Li2CO3. However, this technology has been drastically challenged by the low extraction rate and high production cost, largely due to the lack of research on reactor engineering and system scale-out. Herein, we rationally designed a scalable spiral-microstructured electrochemical reactor (SMER) to accomplish ultrafast and economical Li extraction under harsh brine conditions by virtue of significantly accelerated mass transfer. We showcased that the SMER was stably operated at a Li extraction rate over 5.6 times as much as that of state-of-art devices, and could be up-scaled for commercial production of battery-grade Li2CO3 driven by solar cells. This work lays the ground for sustainable Li extraction from remote low-grade salt lake brine and can be readily applied to more minable Li reserves/resources.
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The transition of the economic growth in China from high-speed to high-quality development provides new challenges to strategic minerals (SMs) security. Under the transition, combined with its development status, but also to maintain global coexistence from the entire industrial chain, we in this paper first expound the security connotation of SMs and take lithium resources as an example to evaluate its security in China. Monte Carlo Simulation (MCS) is used for sensitivity analysis. Results show that the security level of China's lithium resources is rising but fluctuating, and it is closely related to changes in the sub-object of coexistence. Our results illustrate that the proposed synthesized security indicator can effectively evaluate the security status of China's lithium resources. Therefore, it should be possible to be adapted for evaluating the security status of other SMs.
Lithium (Li), as a new energy metal, is becoming a “hot” topic in both academia and industry due to the rapid vehicle electrification and grid storage. Although brines have been the major Li sources, Li-bearing minerals, owing to the wider distribution and more rapid pathway to market, have also attracted much attention in recent years, with a number of new industrial projects launched and various novel methods proposed. The present study provides a start-of-the-art review of Li recovery from different mineral resources (i.e. excluding brines), and gives perspectives and outlook towards various recovery methods. In this study, the major mineral deposits of Li are summarised and illustrated, which shows its high abundance and wide distribution around the global. Various methods of Li recovery reported so far are then summarised with flowsheets and discussed by different type of minerals, covering spodumene, lepidolite, zinnwaldite, amblygonite and clays. It is predicted that spodumene will continue being dominantly used as Li source over other minerals with sulfuric acid (H2SO4) roasting as a major method of processing. However, other novel methods including direct processing of natural spodumene and the process that favours the direct production of LiOH will be the trends of future research. Fluoride-based methods can achieve low energy consumption and high extraction efficiency but still need to be further investigated for a sustainable, economical and safe application. To compete with spodumene, the comprehensive utilization of all the valuable elements contained in lepidolite and zinnwaldite is crucial. In most of the recovery processes, more attention should be paid to the treatment of voluminous residue and waste for a safe disposal or further reuse. In addition, this study not only presents the methods for Li recovery, but also includes various downstream separation and purification steps to make the process integrated. It is expected that, as a review specialising in mineral resources of Li, the present study can provide insights for the development of this particular area.
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