Lithium (chemical symbol: Li) is the lightest of all metals. It does not occur as a pure element in nature but is contained within stable minerals in a range of hard rock types or in solution in brine bodies within salt lakes (“salars”), in sea water or geothermal brines. The contained concentration of lithium is generally low and there are only a limited number of known resources where lithium can be economically extracted.
Lithium is the 32nd most abundant element in the earth’s crust. There are five naturally occurring sources of lithium, commercial lithium production however occurs from only two major sources:
- Brines: lithium rich brines from salt lakes, or salars; and
- Minerals: pegmatite rock deposits containing lithium bearing minerals.
In 2013 USGS reported global lithium reserves of about 13.0Mt Li, with 90% contained in brines. Major brine producing countries include Chile and Argentina with smaller operations in Bolivia and China.
Lithium can be processed to form a variety of different chemicals depending on its end use. According to Roskill Information Services Ltd. (“Roskill”), the author of “Lithium: Market Outlook to 2017”, Twelfth Edition, 2013, lithium carbonate represents approximately 48% of the total global consumption of lithium chemicals (25% technical-grade lithium carbonate and 23% battery-grade lithium carbonate).
The next most common chemical is lithium hydroxide which represents 16% of total global consumption. Other forms of lithium consumed include lithium bromide, lithium chloride and lithium minerals.
Lithium and its chemical compounds exhibit a broad range of beneficial properties, including:
- the highest electrochemical potential of all metals,
- an extremely high co-efficient of thermal expansion,
- fluxing and catalytic characteristics, and
- acting as a viscosity modifier in melts.
As a result of these properties, lithium is used in numerous applications including ceramics and glass, batteries, greases, aluminium, air treatment and others.
Sales De Jujuy is a customer focused company which aims to satisfy the immediate needs of our customers and foster long-term supply partnerships with an emphasis on continuous improvement. Sales de Jujuy intends to grow production levels in line with market demand to ensure the continuous supply of quality product to our customers. The flexibility of our manufacturing process combined with the future potential of our resource enables us to tailor product solutions for customers.