A Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project is possible – and happening right now
With just over a month to go, AusIMM’s Lithium and Battery Metals Conference is set to inspire new processes in sustainable mining of the commodities needed for modern society.
Lithium and Batter Metals Conference keynote speaker Dr Francis Wedin (pictured) is the Founder and CEO of Vulcan Energy Resources, developer of the world’s first – and only – Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project.
We sat down with Dr Wedin to discuss Vulcan’s innovative sustainable operations and how his team are paving the way for zero carbon mining.
As consumers around the world are looking for more sustainable products made possible by lithium and battery metals – the demand for electric cars in Europe has skyrocketed 231 per cent in the last year according to Finbold – the process in place to extract lithium at Vulcan is following suit.
Wedin explained how Vulcan can operate on a zero-carbon basis. “Vulcan is setting the standard for lithium, and indeed all battery metals production development, by using zero fossil fuels to power our process. We produce more renewable energy than we need, so provide excess green energy to the grid, and all with a net zero carbon footprint throughout.
“We drill geothermal production wells into our geothermal-lithium brine resource, produce renewable heat and power from the brine to sell to the grid, then extract the lithium from the brine prior to re-injection using an entirely environmentally benign process. Throughout the process, we will use the heat from the renewable energy generated to power the lithium extraction. Thus, the whole process is fossil-free, and has a net negative carbon footprint, a world-first.”
Wedin says the process is more cost-effective than many may think. “It doesn’t necessarily need to cost more to be green. With the right scientific team and approach, we can, and we have, come up with solutions to produce lithium and battery metals with a net zero carbon footprint, not by 2035 or 2050, but right now.”
Vulcan Energy is progressing even further in the resource sector by encouraging environmental restoration. Vulcan Energy adheres to the Taskforce for Climate-related Financial Disclosures and the Taskforce for Nature-related Financial Disclosures. “We see biodiversity and nature regeneration, including re-wilding, as a critical tool in our fight against climate change. We will be developing biodiversity and re-wilding initiatives around our operations.
“Ultimately, we want to create an abundance of renewable energy plants, with sustainable co-production of lithium, interwoven with a rich community filled with wild nature and biodiversity.”
Discussing his inspiration behind the company and its philosophy, Wedin says his focus on environmental values led to creating an innovative team with the same values. “We have had some of the world’s brightest and best minds in the industry approach us wanting to work with us, saying that they did so because their current companies do not fit with their values. As a resources company, you will not only miss out on investors but also the best team and personnel now and in the future, if you do not dramatically change the way you operate. The world needs a lot of battery metals, starting today, but if you compromise on how you extract those metals, you do so at your peril.”
You can discover more about Dr Francis Wedin and Vulcan Energy at the Lithium and Battery Metals Conference 2021 in Perth and online, September 1 and 2.