Universities, Research centers and Industries are investing lots of money and resources to find solutions to manage lithium in Italy.
A recent scientific article, published by CNR (Italian Research National Center), shows interesting updates about the new lithium mining sector in Italy. Considering the current geopolitical situation, many industrial sectors are finding new systematic solutions for mineral resources supply.
Geologists affirm that there are lithium mineral deposits in the Elba Island, Central Alps, Sardinia and Calabria, but in some of them the potential for this mineral is unknown, and deserves a more systematic exploration.
Rocks of the Tuscan and Roman magmatic provinces show higher lithium contents. Specifically, Tuscan granites contain up to 350 μg/g Lithium, mostly hosted by biotite; the Capo Bianco rocks (Elba Island) contains up to 1000 μg/g. There are other small Lithium occurrences associated with Manganese deposits and metabauxites, and there is a hypothetical potential for sediment hosted deposits in the Alpine basins. However, the most promising potential seems to be associated with subsurface fluids in geotermal fields. The main high Italian geothermal fields are located in the western parts of Tuscany, Latium, and Campania. In Southern Tuscany, two geothermal areas (Larderello–Travale and Mt. Amiata) are presently exploited, and produce about 30% of the region’s electricity demand. The eastern part of Latium has several explorative geothermal wells in the areas of Mt. Vulsini, Vico–Cimini, and Sabatini, and the Albani Hills. Additionally, in Campania, the Campi Flegrei caldera, west of Naples, and the Island of Ischia, are associated with volcanic centers fields, together with Latera, Torre Alfina, and Cesano.
Geologists found that high fluids in geothermal fields may contain up to 480 mg/L Lithium, so high interesting concentration. Scientists also affirmed that new mining perspective may consider a deep injection of water to interact with, and extract Lithium from, magmatic rocks.
The new technology used to extract lithium from geotermal brines is called Direct Lithium Extraction, and it supposed to be "greener" than the conventional one.
Two australian mining companies are exploring Latium Territory (near Rome) for lithium extraction from geotermal brines. Altamin and Vulcan Energy have already received mining license.
Altamin has been present in Italy for quite some time, also through its subsidiaries Strategic Minerals Italia Srl and Energia Minerals Srl. The valleys of the extreme eastern Liguria as Graveglia, Gromolo, Petronio and Vara, firmly opposed to the research activities of copper, lead, manganese, zinc, silver, gold, cobalt, nickel and associated minerals in various sites in the area. Region Liguria sit at a table with the mayors concerned about the project.
Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd has entered into a binding collaboration agreement with Enel Green Power (EGP), the largest geothermal energy producer in Italy, to develop its Italian project and to explore future opportunities for cooperation on lithium supply.Vulcan actually has the Cesano license in Italy through a joint scoping study.
What social and environmental impacts could this new lithium extraction technology produce? No details about have already been shared.
Where will these latest research drive those territories and communities in the coming years?
May these new technologies, and the whole of social-economical and environmental externalities, represent the fair and right solutions to the climate crisis?