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Enel, Vulcan Energy mulling lithium mining in Italy

Enel, Vulcan Energy mulling lithium mining in Italy thumbnail

Enel and Vulcan Energy are looking at the potential for lithium mining at a site near Rome.

Enel Green Power (EGP), a unit of Italian energy giant Enel, has revealed that it will partner with Australia-based Vulcan Energy Resources to consider lithium extraction at a site in Cesano Romano, in the Latium region of central Italy.

The site is located 20 km north of Rome and is 50%-owned by EGP and Vulcan Energy Italy, the Italian subsidiary of the Australian lithium company. They secured a research permit from the local authorities earlier this year.

“The collaboration involves a phased approach, which in a first scoping study phase will consist of assessing the potential of Vulcan’s ‘Cesano’ license, a site that covers an area of 11.5 square kilometers, just a few kilometers away from Rome,” Enel said. “The partners intend to examine the prospects for further developments in geothermal lithium, starting from the area under exam but not excluding further collaborations in Italy and abroad.”

Vulcan Energy said the site hosts a single geothermal well that yields two “hot brine” samples containing high average lithium-in-brine.

Vulcan’s in-house geological team in Germany will be collaborating with Italian geologists and local stakeholders to collate and assess historical data, verify the lithium content and assess the brine for potential lithium project development,” the company said. “If successful, the Cesano project could provide a source of strategic, sustainable lithium in Italy for Europe’s battery and automotive market, and become a possible future additive to Vulcan’s zero-carbon lithium business.”

In Germany, Vulcan Energy is working on scaling up its zero-carbon lithium project, which aims to produce geothermal energy and battery- grade lithium hydroxide by pumping geothermal brine from deep in the earth at a site in the Upper Rhine Valley. Once the heated brine has been used to produce energy, it will be processed into high-purity lithium hydroxide monohydrate at another facility.

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The company has demonstrated the production of LHM exceeding minimum quality specifications for the battery industry. And in June, it secured a site outside of Frankfurt, Germany, for its planned commercial processing facility. It said it hopes to begin large-scale production at some point in 2024.

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