Germany: SolarWorld drills further for lithium

SolarWorld Solicium, a subsidiary of PV module manufacturer SolarWorld AG, has been granted the permission to conduct six further test drillings into the lithium deposits in Zinnwald, Saxony.

The company, which conducted two test drillings a year ago, wil drill between August and October.

The Upper Mining Authority of Saxony granted the company the permission for the tests. The main purpose of SolarWorld Solicium drilling in Zinnwald is to conduct a feasibility study on ore mining for Zinnwaldite, a silicate mineral. The lithium deposits in this region of Germany have among the highest lithium deposits globally. The material is used in rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

The drillings so far have been used to verify existing data on the deposit, and to carry out analyses and mineral processing trials on Zinnwaldite as SolarWorld stated. As per the investigations, 370,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), which is supplied to battery manufacturers as a raw material has been verified as present. Since the results were positive, the lithium project will be continued.

Core samples will be taken from 350 meters below and the focus would be to check if the content of the metal is as high as previously expected for various areas of the deposit. This will decide the economic viability of the mining project and therefore the prospects of attracting financiers.

Studies will also be conducted on optimising the lithium carbonate production process together with project partners from the central German region. Samples will also be sent for analysis of the chemical composition in terms of lithium, potassium, tin, wolfram and caesium and other elements. The gathered data will be incorporated into the existing resource model and in March 2014, a new and final evaluation of the lithium content of the deposit will be available.

The drillings will take place in August and October and will be carried out by Pruy KG from Schönheide, and engineering service support will be provided by G.E.O.S. Scientific monitoring will be provided by Institute of Mineralogy of the TU Bergakademie.