Italy's Iren and Australia's Altamin Join Hands in MoU for Lithium Retrieval
Italy's Iren and Australia's Altamin Join Hands in MoU for Lithium Retrieval

Italy's Iren and Australia's Altamin Join Hands in MoU for Lithium Retrieval

  • 08-Mar-2024 11:59 AM
  • Journalist: Patricia Jose Perez

Lithium, a pivotal component utilized in the production of batteries for smartphones and electric vehicles, presents a promising opportunity for extraction from geothermal brines—high-temperature saline waters abundant in salts. In a strategic move aimed at harnessing this potential, Italy's multi-utility Iren and Altamin, an Australian entity, have formalized a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore and exploit lithium recovery from geothermal projects in the vicinity of Rome.

The MoU, announced by both entities on Wednesday, underscores a joint commitment to delve into the viability and extraction methodologies for lithium from geothermal resources in the Lazio region. Altamin, with longstanding permits in the region dating back to the 1970s, has been actively engaged in assessing the feasibility of harnessing geothermal energy. Now, with the collaborative effort with Iren, the focus shifts towards tapping into the lithium potential inherent in these geothermal brines.

Geothermal brines, characterized by their elevated temperatures and high salt concentrations, offer a promising avenue for lithium extraction. Compared to conventional methods such as mining and evaporation in lithium ponds, extracting lithium from geothermal brines presents several advantages, including efficiency and environmental sustainability.

The significance of this collaboration extends beyond mere extraction; it aligns with broader strategic imperatives aimed at reducing reliance on foreign imports of lithium. Both the European Union and Italy currently face significant dependencies on lithium imports, predominantly sourced from countries such as Australia, Chile, and China. By capitalizing on domestic geothermal resources, the partnership between Iren and Altamin seeks to enhance self-sufficiency and bolster the regional supply chain for this critical raw material.

Furthermore, the collaboration with Altamin represents a pioneering initiative in Europe, bridging industrial requirements with principles of the circular economy. By integrating lithium recovery from geothermal brines into circular economy processes, the project aligns with broader sustainability goals, emphasizing resource efficiency and waste reduction.

The exploration of lithium recovery from geothermal brines represents a convergence of technological innovation, environmental stewardship, and economic opportunity. As global demand for lithium continues to escalate, driven by the burgeoning electric vehicle market and the proliferation of portable electronic devices, initiatives such as the Iren-Altamin collaboration offer a pathway towards diversifying and securing the lithium supply chain.

In essence, the MoU between Iren and Altamin heralds a new era of collaboration in the realm of lithium recovery, underscoring the transformative potential of geothermal resources in addressing critical supply chain challenges. As both entities embark on this journey, they pave the way for sustainable growth, innovation, and resilience in the lithium sector, positioning Europe at the forefront of the global lithium revolution.

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