Codelco, the largest mining company in Chile, has strategically decided to diversify its activities to include lithium production in addition to its traditional copper and molybdenum mining. In order to achieve this aim, the company is assessing the feasibility of a new lithium mining project in the Salar de Maricunga, one of the largest salt flats in the country. Amphos 21 has been awarded a project to develop the required hydrogeological studies needed to explore the potential for lithium production.
The relevance of lithium as a strategic resource has enormously increased in recent years. The metal is primarily used in the batteries of electric vehicles and for energy storage systems. Globally, Chile is one of the primary producers of lithium, which is present in the many “salares” (or salt flats) across the country.
“The project will span over 24 months, during which activities will include borehole drilling, hydraulic tests and evaporation tests,” said Juan Castaño, Chief Executive Officer of Amphos 21 Chile. “Amphos 21 will also be responsible for the development of the conceptual and numerical models to describe the hydrogeological functioning of the Salar and the assessment of the lithium reserves. The outcome of the project will help our client to define the feasibility of the exploitation project from an environmental and economic perspective,” he added.
The first phase of the study will focus on fieldwork. More than 20 members of the Amphos 21 team will be involved in this, many of whom will be deployed to the Salar area to gather the information needed for the assessment of the lithium resources and the feasibility of the mining project.