Characterizing Lithium enriched brines as mineral resources and reserves
Daniel s. Weber, Senior HydrogeologisT, Montgomery and Associates
Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
2650 East 40th Avenue
Denver, CO 80205
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2650 east 40th Avenue
Denver, CO 80205
Unlike traditional mineral resources that are solid deposits, brine mineral resources are fluid deposits of variable density and mobility. Typically, mineral enriched brines are hosted in porous- and fractured-rock aquifers comprised of continental-derived deposits ranging from clastic, volcanic, and evaporitic rocks. Brine aquifers enriched with lithium are commonly found in closed hydrologic basins characterized by small amounts of precipitation, large rates of evaporation, associated salt flats (salars) and playa lakes, and active or historical geothermal activity. Compared to hard rock deposits, the density and mobility of brine deposits present challenges with respect to exploration, characterization, and quantification.
National standards and best practice guidelines for technical reporting of lithium brine mineral deposits require defining key variables such as brine volume and grade, aquifer geometry, hydrogeologic unit, effective porosity, specific yield, flow rate, and recoverability for quantifying brine mineral resources and reserves and for assessing reasonable prospects for economic extraction. Conversion from a mineral resource status to a mineral reserve requires satisfying several modifying factors ranging from the feasibility of proposed mining methods and processing strategies, to economic and market forecasting, to environmental permitting and social license of the project.
Production wells completed in lithium enriched brine aquifers are generally the preferred mining method for extraction of brine for mineral processing. The technical reporting terms of “Drainable” and “Extractable” brine mineral resource are used for evaluating and advancing project status to a mineral reserve. Ultimately, in a hydrogeologic context, the mineral resource and reserve estimate is supported by drilling and sampling results, aquifer testing, geologic block modeling, and flow and transport numerical modeling methods.
Daniel S. Weber, Senior Hydrogeologist, Montgomery and Associates, Denver, CO
Daniel Weber is a senior hydrogeologist with Montgomery & Associates in Denver, Colorado. He has worked for Montgomery & Associates for 30 years and is a licensed professional geologist. Dan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from Bradley University and a Master of Science degree in hydrology and water resources from the University of Arizona. He has worked in the field of mining hydrogeology and mine-water management throughout his career and currently is involved in projects assessing brine-mineral resources and reserves for international mining clients.