10 Aug 2022, 12:13
Hannah Naylor

Local utilities to explore domestic lithium sourcing in Germany

Clean Energy Wire /

The local utilities Stadtwerke Speyer and Stadtwerke Schifferstadt are planning to investigate how to source lithium from below the Rhine River in western Germany. The mineral-rich thermal water in the subsoil of the Upper Rhine Valley offers both the opportunity to exploit geothermal energy for generating heat and electricity and also the ability to mine lithium, the companies said in a press release. Lithium is a mineral resource primarily used in electric vehicle and mobile device batteries. Its demand has risen sharply in recent months, exacerbated by the unstable geopolitical situation, and is expected to rise further, said Stefanie Seiler, mayor of the City of Speyer. “Up until now, lithium has largely been mined overseas and often under inhumane and environmentally harmful conditions,” she said. “It would therefore be a great gain if it were possible to mine the alkali metal in Germany […] In addition, this would make Germany and Europe less dependent on international imports.”

The exploration field for lithium, which is called “Materia”, has an area of around 150 square kilometres. A greater understanding of the geological subsurface structure of depths reaching a few kilometres must first be established in order to determine the safest and most effective drilling sites by summer 2023, said Gerd Baumann, deputy plant manager of Stadtwerke Schifferstadt.

The German-Australian company Vulcan Energy has similar plans and was granted five exploration licences in the Upper Rhine Plane at the beginning of the year, news outlet reports. In January there were doubts of profitability regarding the German Lithium GmbH’s plans to source lithium domestically, which was said to be causing slow progress.

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