Innovations require lithium

There is a great global demand for lithium and there seems to be no end to it. Lithium, or more precisely powdery lithium carbonate, is required for manufacturing batteries for smart phones, laptops, two-wheeled vehicles and electric and hybrid cars, but the need for it will increase in the future: Olle Sirén, CEO of Keliber Oy, believes that soon lithium will be needed also for storing hydrogen and electricity. Keliber Oy is a company located in the municipality of Kaustinen in the Central Ostrobothnia region of Finland.

“Storing wind and solar energy requires lithium batteries.” One such innovation is a battery charged with solar energy for household electricity needs. Lithium boron compound, on the other hand, is required to store the hydrogen of fuel cells.

Keliber Oy knows lithium, because the company and its predecessors have studied lithium and the deposits in Central Ostrobothnia since the late 1950s. Now, after the reassurance provided by 257 drill holes and 21 kilometres of drill samples, the company is ready to start excavating. All they need is the necessary permits. Permit applications will be sent to authorities at the end of this year.

Production for 16 years

Keliber has three lithium deposits in Ostrobothnia, and GTK has surveyed them all. In total, they have an ore reserve of 4.5 million tonnes, which at the planned production capacity means production for 16.2 years.

“There is already a 500 square kilometre lithium province in Central Ostrobothnia, and it is likely that there are other deposits that have not been discovered yet. Hundreds of lithium ore rocks found in forests is an indication of this,” Olle Sirén explains.

If Keliber’s preliminary schedule holds, the company will start excavating for lithium in Syväjärvi in two years. Sirén believes that at that time, the price of the raw material will still be high in the international market.