Global Lithium Demand is Driving Innovation

Lithium producers are seeking new extraction methods

Challenges of Conventional Technology

Much of the world’s lithium reserves are found in salt brines, with current production concentrated in South America. The conventional process for extracting lithium from brines requires solar evaporation from ponds.

Large Evaporation Ponds

  • Expensive, slow to startup, vulnerable to weather
  • Requires large amount of water
  • Large area can lead to land destruction
  • Environmental impact
  • Substantial effort to permit
  • Slow process – 2 years
  • 40% lithium recovery

Innovative Lithium Extraction

Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) uses a recovery process that removes up to 99% of the lithium from the brine to produce a lithium concentrate.

Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE)

  • No evaporation
  • Lower water consumption
  • Not weather dependent
  • Smaller environmental footprint
  • Cost effective
  • Scalable set up
  • Fast process – 2 hours
  • Up to 99% lithium recovery
Comparison diagram of Conventional versus Direct Lithium Extraction technology


Thinking beyond the pond

Lithium South is evaluating new Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) technology to address the challenges faced by lithium producers.  This innovative process will result in the production of a lithium concentrate.  The concentrate will be further refined to produce battery grade lithium carbonate.  Purity is of the highest importance if the lithium is to be sold into the battery market, rather than the industrial lithium market.

Lithium South is evaluating DLE from two different sources:
Chemphys is developing their process in Chengdu, China using an absorbent.
Eon Minerals, located in Salta, Argentina, is also developing a process using their patent pending absorbent.

Lithium South’s DLE technology potentially cuts capital and operating costs, accelerates project startup, boosts lithium recovery, and reduces the production time from years to hours.  Our DLE process will be modular and can be ramped up quickly through pilot and commercial projects.  The technical goal will be to lower water consumption, reduce the project footprint and thereby, potentially minimize ecological impact.

Lithium South is focused on the development of a DLE pilot plant in Salta, Argentina, at its Hombre Muerto North lithium project.

Lithium South’s Innovative DLE Technology

Direct Lithium Extraction diagram

LITHIUM SOUTH – thinking beyond the pond

Global Lithium Demand is Driving Innovation

“The increasing global demand and the need for a secure supply of lithium has created a deep interest — and urgency — in fully developing alternative extraction that is considered environmentally safe, and is cost competitive.”

National Renewable Energy Laboratory