Lithium Mining in America

By | April 7, 2019

Contrary to belief and the common moniker “Rare Earth”, lithium and its sister metals group is not particularly rare. What it is though is, in particular, is not concentrated.  Therefore, without concentration, lithium is found everywhere and no where at the same time. It is simply too diffused in the ground to make it economic to develop into a mine.

Lithium may be necessary to human health in very small quantities. Like arsenic, selenium, and other micro nutrients lithium could be a biological adaptation necessary for good health.  In concentrations, it can be toxic. Lithium in the US  is mined in only one place in Nevada.  There simply are so few places that it is concentrated enough to mine. But if the United States converts to solar power and battery powered cars, lithium will be much in demand and the price even higher than today. And we in the US would be a buyer nation, which is not good for our trade deficit.

But an experiment is taking place in South Arkansas, where the old oilfield brines of the Smackover formation are being processed from the tailwaters of the bromine stripping chemical plants there to see if it is economically feasible to mine lithium from those waters. If so, then the mineral owners beneath the large Smackover formation may have a new source of income. So I am hopeful that this proves to be the case and the process used to strip the lithium from the salt water brine found in those deep formations provides jobs, income, and energy security for a better future.