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This article includes:

  • Lithium Mining – Explosive Growth from Electric Vehicles
  • The Process of Mining Lithium
  • EDDY Pumps Ideally Suited for the Processing of Lithium
  • Experts in Salty Corrosive Pump Environments
  • Future Projections of Lithium Mining

Lithium Mining – Explosive Growth from Electric Vehicles

In recent years, lithium mining has gained popularity and has become a very important part of the world’s future. Lithium is a soft alkali metal that is considered the lightest metal that exists. It is applied to many industrial applications; it is a flux additive for iron, steel, and aluminum production. Lithium is also used for the production of heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lithium grease, and many other products.

EVs aka Electric Vehicles are the number #1 driver of the Lithium Boom that is in its early stages.

Lithium is also a major component in the manufacture of batteries. In fact, over 50% of the lithium mined is used for the production of batteries, and with a rapid increase in lithium batteries used in electronic devices and lithium-ion battery-powered vehicles, lithium mining has become a major focus of mining.


The Process of Mining Lithium

Historically, there are two processes that have been used to produce lithium; brines and hard rock mining. The most cost-effective method of producing lithium is brines mining and is the process for mining most of the lithium that is produced. Brines, in particular, salar brines are found in underground reservoirs that are located underneath dried lake beds (salars).

Salar brine underground reservoirs are categorized into three groups depending on the concentration of lithium; high, medium, and lower. Currently, only the salar brine underground reservoirs that contain high and medium concentrations are mined. The top countries with the largest lithium reserves are Bolivia (21 million tonnes), Argentina (17 million tonnes), Chile (9 million tonnes), United States (6.8 million tonnes), Australia (6.3 million tonnes), and China (4.5 million tonnes).

The process of brines mining consists of drilling down to an underground salar reservoir and extracting the salar brine by pumping it out and into an evaporation pond. Once pumped into the first evaporation pond, the brine goes through a multi-step evaporation process where the brine is transferred to a number of different ponds which transforms the brine from a liquid to an increasing concentration of dissolved solids. This process is lengthy and can take over 15-months to complete before the material is transitioned to lithium chloride. Once transitioned into lithium chloride, it is purified and concentrated to produce lithium hydroxide which is used to manufacture products such as lithium-ion batteries.

Processing Lithium via. Evaporation Ponds

As the brine is transferred from one evaporation pond to another, the material becomes more concentrated. The method used for transferring the material from pond to pond is done with pumps that have the ability to pump solid laden slurry that are very corrosive.

From the original evaporation pond, the material is pumped to a Halite pond that consists of rock salt. The material remains in the Halite pond until a greater concentration is achieved, then it is pumped to a Sylvinite (sodium potassium chloride) pond. Then, eventually pumped to a Carnallite (potassium magnesium chloride) pond where the evaporation process is completed. Eventually, Carnallite is transitioned into lithium carbonate which is used to manufacture products such as batteries, and lithium ion batteries.

Salar brines mining to extract lithium is the most common compared to extracting lithium from hard rock. The reason for this is due to the cost of salar mining being half the cost of hard rock mining for lithium.

EDDY Pumps Ideally Suited for the Mining and Processing of Lithium

Lithium processing pump applications are very harsh due to the corrosive nature of the salar brine fluids. As the brine is transferred from pond to pond the material continuously becomes more of a solid laden slurry which is very difficult for traditional pumps to manage. Especially considering that, as the evaporation occurs the material becomes more solid laden. Due to these extreme challenges, a pump that is specifically equipped for corrosive solid laden slurries is required.

EDDY Pump’s unique pump design originated in 1984. Throughout the years, the pump has been put to the test in countless applications involving corrosive solids laden slurry. Time and time again the EDDY Pump has provided value greater than that of traditional pumps in these types of applications. The large internal flow path enables the pump to pass extremely large solids, and the recessed rotor reduces the potential for wear due to the abrasive nature of salar brine. Added to this, the unique ability of providing a turbulent flow means that the operation of the EDDY Pump avoids allowing solid laden slurries to settle at the bottom of the liquid path of the pump, which can decrease potential clogging issues.

The EDDY Pump is unique in comparison to other corrosive resistant solid laden slurry pumps on the market. The Eddy Pump technology is based on the principle of Tornado Motion of liquid as a synchronized swirling column along the center of intake pipe that induces agitated mixing of solid particles with liquid, creating suction strong enough for solid particles to travel upwards into the volute and generating pressure differential for desired discharge. The eddy current is caused by the pressure differential generated by the rotor, and strengthened by turbulent flow patterns in the volute and suction tube. The large flow through design also allows the passage of large solids that are almost the size of the inlet port of the pump.

Added to the many features and benefits of the EDDY Pump, the pump is available with the highest quality materials of construction to ensure the pump can withstand the corrosive and abrasive characteristics of salar brines and slurries. Proven in countless demanding corrosive and solid laden fluid applications, the EDDY Pump is the premier slurry pump available.

Experts in Salty Corrosive Pumping Environments

EDDY Pump Corporation has been honored to serve onboard US Navy and Military Sealift Command ships for over 25 years in CHT Systems (Collection, Holding, and Transfer), brine, and gray water pumping applications. We have a strong history building marine pumps.

Future Projections of Lithium Mining

Lithium demand has continued to increase over previous years due to the need for lithium-ion batteries to power new digital devices such as computers and cell phones. Electric vehicles are now the number one driver for production growth. With environmental concerns and the ongoing effort to reduce carbon footprint by transitioning away from vehicles with combustion motors to electric motors, the demand for lithium-ion batteries will continue to increase well into the future. Projections are that demand will increase by more than 1000% by 2030. One of the largest lithium mines in the United States is located in Silver Peak, Nevada. In this location production of lithium is expected to double by 2025.

As the future demand of lithium continues to increase, and production of lithium explodes in key areas of the world, the EDDY pump is ready and able to take on the extreme demands of the pump needs for lithium mining operations worldwide.


Best Applications – Industries Most Served

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