Where is lithium found and mined in the World
Lithium is found in various sources on Earth, but it is primarily extracted from two main types of deposits: pegmatite rock deposits and brine deposits in salt flats (also known as salars).
- Pegmatite Rock Deposits: Lithium is found in minerals like spodumene, lepidolite, and petalite, which are present in pegmatite rock formations. Pegmatites are coarse-grained igneous rocks formed during the final stages of magma crystallization. These deposits are mainly found in Australia, Canada, and Brazil. Australia, in particular, is the leading producer of lithium from hard-rock mining, with the Greenbushes Lithium Mine in Western Australia being one of the largest and highest-grade lithium mines in the world.
- Brine Deposits: Lithium can also be extracted from brine deposits found in salt flats or salars, which are the result of the evaporation of water from mineral-rich brines. This method of extraction is generally considered more cost-effective compared to hard-rock mining. The majority of lithium from brine deposits is produced in South America’s “Lithium Triangle,” which spans parts of Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. The Salar de Atacama in Chile and the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia are two of the largest and most significant lithium brine deposits in the world.
Other sources of lithium include geothermal brines, oil field brines, and seawater. However, these sources currently have higher extraction costs and are not widely used for lithium production. As the demand for lithium continues to grow, driven by the increasing use of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles and renewable energy storage, new extraction methods and technologies are being developed to exploit these alternative sources more efficiently.