May 17, 2020

Resource assement of Penobsquis potash mine commissioned

Potash mines
Penobsquis Potash mine
Dale Benton
2 min
Resource assement of Penobquis potash mine commissioned
A resource assessment of the levels of potash remaining in a Canadian mine has been announced, following its closure last year.

The Penobsquis potash m...

A resource assessment of the levels of potash remaining in a Canadian mine has been announced, following its closure last year.

The Penobsquis potash mine, owned by PotashCorp, was shut down in November last year and now the New Brunswick Department of Energy and Mines says it will commission a resource assessment to determine how much potash remains at the site. The report will also explore what potential there is for future mining of potash should the price of potash rise to a profitable level.

A third part consultant will be brought in to carry out the resource assessment.

"As responsible managers of our province's resources, we have an obligation to review and fully understand what, if any, potential resource remains in the Penobsquis potash deposit," said Energy and Mines Minister Donald Arseneault.

It is expected to take up to three months for the full assessment to be completed.

Director of PotashCorp’s communications, Randy Burton, believes the closure and subsequent assessment is the way forward.

"The mine's not economic now and hasn't been for some time, and it's an expensive proposition to continue pumping it out,"

"So this is obviously part of the process of closing the mine, and that's what this environmental impact assessment is all about, to determine the conditions under which it'll be discontinued and operations wrapped up."

Following the report findings, the mine would then be flooded.

"We believe that some of the remaining ore would be accessible from the Picadilly mine if and when it were economic to mine," said Burton.

"It's not economic now and we don't foresee a time when it would be." He added.

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Jul 20, 2021

British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars

3 min
The ever-increasing need for electric vehicles is mounting pressure on British Lithium as the 2035 deadline inches closer

The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change. 

It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.

British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad. 

Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe 

After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company. 

“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”

Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector. 

Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial. 

Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production

“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”

The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction. 

Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably. 

“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.

“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”

Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK. 

“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”

Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.

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