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Revolutionising lithium exploration

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Global Mining Review,

Facilitating the energy transition will require a massive increase in the resourcing of critical minerals, essential components for renewable energy production and storage. The global demand for lithium is poised to skyrocket, driven primarily by the burgeoning electric vehicle industry. With a projected 40-fold increase in demand by 2050, the race is on to discover new sources of this critical resource.

Revolutionising lithium exploration

Example dataset highlighting layers within Globe (left to right); gravity data with Getech’s structural interpretation, paleogeographic reconstructions, drainage networks and DEM, precipitation minus evaporation.


According to the IEA’s latest critical minerals review, exploration spending for lithium increased by 90% in 2022, the highest growth rate among all energy transition minerals. Because of this, explorers are experiencing increasing pressure to find the precious resource. However, identifying promising sedimentary lithium reserves is a time-critical challenge, as it takes 5 to 10 years to develop and commission a mine.

In response to this, Getech’s team of expert geoscientists have devised an innovative mineral systems approach, leveraging its GlobeTM database to identify promising locations for lithium-rich sedimentary deposits.

The lithium boom

As the world shifts towards renewable energy to combat climate change, lithium has become the linchpin of the transition. Electrifying industries internationally will rely heavily on lithium-ion batteries. In 2020 alone, electric car batteries accounted for 34% of lithium demand, a figure expected to soar to 75% by 2030.

To meet this increase in demand, all available lithium resources must be exploited. Getech’s method of sedimentary lithium deposit exploration relies heavily on input from its Globe database, which contains nearly 40 000 geoscientifc data layers from the Permian to the Present Day. This approach combines structural elements, depositional systems, uplift events, digital elevation models, and palaeoclimate models to predict locations conducive to the accumulation of lithium-rich sedimentary deposits.

Understanding lithium formation

Mined either from brine or ore; sedimentary deposits account for approximately 8% of the known global lithium resources and are currently relatively under-explored. Similar to other mineral systems, the processes and elements required for non-marine formation of sedimentary lithium deposits are well understood and therefore sites for accumulation are predictable.

Understanding the formation of sedimentary lithium deposits is crucial for successfully locating potential economic mineral accumulation. Lithium, predominantly derived from brines, salars, and pegmatites, is found in clay deposits preserved in lacustrine sediments. Getech’s approach uses advanced analytical techniques and accounts for factors such as tectonic subsidence, lithium sources, and the interaction of basin-fill sediments with geothermal and hydrothermal fluids to define new covered search spaces for lithium.

The pathway forward

Combining data from Globe with its observations on how sedimentary lithium is formed, Getech has recently launched a newly developed ‘play map’. The play map highlights regions with favourability for sedimentary lithium accumulation across different geological stages.

These play maps are validated using known sedimentary lithium occurrences throughout the geological record to provide further confidence in the results, with the weighting of input parameters modified accordingly. Using this method, the favourability for sedimentary lithium accumulation at a given point on Earth through geological time from the Pleistocene to the start of the Permian can be determined.

Combining extensive global datasets with sophisticated analytics is crucial for guiding future exploration. As lithium demand continues to surge, securing its availability and affordability is key. Further refinement and regional studies promise to enhance exploration efforts and contribute to meeting the urgent demand for lithium in the clean energy revolution.

Harnessing its expansive database, bolstered by advanced AI and machine learning, alongside a deep geoscience proficiency, Getech now possesses a distinctive capability to pinpoint lithium in untapped areas, playing a pivotal role in advancing the energy transition.

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