Vulcan confirmed as largest JORC compliant Lithium resource in Europe

by Leena Thomas
Image: Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd

Vulcan Energy Resources Ltd. (ASX: VUL) announced the completion of the maiden Mineral Resource Estimate for its Ortenau licence within the Vulcan Lithium Project, in the Upper Rhine Valley of South-West Germany.

The company reported a total Inferred Mineral Resource of 13.2 Mt of contained Lithium Carbonate Equivalent, at a lithium brine grade of 181 mg/l Li.

This makes Vulcan the largest JORC-compliant Lithium Resource in Europe by a considerable margin, and a globally significant lithium brine resource.

The company noted that the Maiden Mineral Resource Estimate was calculated on just one of the five licence areas within the Vulcan Project, where majority of exploration licence areas remain as future upside.

VUL said that the resource being incorporated into Scoping Study, due Q1 2020.

Massive demand anticipated for battery quality lithium hydroxide

There is an unprecedented ramping up of lithium-ion and associated cathode production in Europe. Forecasts show that the European Union (EU) is set to require the equivalent of the entire current global battery quality lithium demand by the mid-2020s, with 2023 being the main inflection point.

There is currently zero EU production of battery-quality lithium hydroxide, let alone a CO2-neutral product. A severe battery-quality lithium chemical supply shortfall is thus developing in the EU.

In the 2010s, China experienced the world’s highest growth in lithium-ion battery production for electric vehicles. It caused a lithium supply shortage & 300% lithium price spike. In the 2020s, the same is forecast to happen in Europe, on a larger scale.

Vulcan Zero-Carbon Lithium project

VUL’s Vulcan Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project is aiming to be Europe’s and the world’s first Zero Carbon Lithium™ project.

It aims to do achieve this by producing battery-quality lithium hydroxide from hot, sub-surface geothermal brines pumped from wells, with a renewable energy by-product fulfilling all processing energy needs.

The project is strategically located, within a region well-serviced by local industrial activity, at the heart of the European auto and lithium-ion battery manufacturing industry, just 60km from Stuttgart. The burgeoning European battery manufacturing industry is forecast to be the world’s second largest, with currently zero domestic supply of battery grade lithium products.

JORC 2012 MRE for Vulcan project

The company had recently conducted the maiden Vulcan lithium-brine resource estimation in consideration of, and in accordance with JORC (2012) at the Vulcan Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project.

VUL reported that statistical analysis, three-dimensional (3-D) modelling and resource estimation was prepared by APEX and Mr. Eccles, M.Sc. P. Geol. of APEX reviewed all work and takes responsibility for the maiden resource estimation. The workflow implemented for the calculation of the Vulcan lithium-brine resource estimations was completed using the commercial mine planning software MICROMINE.

VUL said that only one of the five Vulcan Project licences (Ortenau) was assessed for the resource modelling and estimation.

Maiden MRE confirm Vulcan as largest, globally significant project

The company announced that the Inferred Mineral Resource Estimate for the brine has been calculated at 13.2 Mt of contained LCE, at a lithium brine grade of 181 mg/l Li, average porosity of 9.5% and lower cutoff of 100 mg/l Li.

The company said that this compares favourably to Europe’s other JORC-compliant lithium resources. This includes the likes of European Metals’ Cinovec, at 7.17 Mt LCE, Rio Tinto’s Jadar, at 6.24 Mt LCE, Infinity Lithium’s San Jose at 1.68 Mt LCE, and Savannah Resources’ Barroso at 0.71 Mt LCE, all hard-rock projects.

Next steps

The Company reported that it is concluding a Scoping Study at the Vulcan Zero Carbon Lithium™ project, on track for completion Q1 2020, and is targeting initial commercial production by 2023.

The company noted that with COP25 announcing Climate Emergency “at the point of no return”, Vulcan seems to be poised for leading the industry with its Zero Carbon Lithium™ Project.

Management statements

VUL’s Managing Director, Dr. Francis Wedin commented: “Vulcan’s Maiden Mineral Resource Estimate, on just one of the licence areas within the Vulcan Project, elevates us into becoming a globally significant lithium project.

It also shows the potential for the Vulcan Project to be a primary source for the burgeoning European battery industry’s lithium hydroxide needs, via a low-impact, Zero Carbon Lithium™ process powered by and sourced from geothermal wells.

This comes at an opportune time, as we enter a period where Europe is forecast to dwarf China’s growth in demand for lithium hydroxide in Europe as part of the transition to electric vehicles, but with currently only high carbon emission sources of lithium hydroxide available to cathode and battery manufacturers.”