German-focused lithium play Vulcan Energy Resources (ASX: VUL) has released a maiden JORC resource and a “positive” pre-feasibility study (PFS) that shows its project will have a zero-carbon footprint.
The maiden reserve totals 1.12 million tonnes at 181 milligrams per litre of lithium carbonate.
The company has a large lithium-rich geothermal brine project in the Upper Rhine Valley of Germany, and its plan is to produce both geothermal energy and lithium hydroxide from the same deep brine resource.
Vulcan’s aim continues to be production of the world’s first premium, battery quality zero carbon lithium hydroxide by harnessing renewable geothermal energy — and without using evaporation, mining or fossil fuels.
Managing director Francis Wedin says the project will also produce geothermal energy that will be highly profitable as well as environmentally friendly.
No compromise on environmental standards
That and the zero-carbon lithium output can meet European needs and standards.
“There doesn’t need to be a compromise on the ethical and environmental sourcing of battery raw materials for Europe’s current rapid transition to electric vehicles and renewable energy storage,” Dr Wedin added.
The PFS shows a positive, post-tax net present value of €2.25 billion (A$3.52 billion).
The starting cost for geothermal wells and plant is estimated to cost €226 million (A$353.5 million) and the first stage direct lithium extraction and central lithium plants will together cost €474 million (A$741 million).
“Sensitivity analysis shows robust project economics,” the company says.
Geothermal energy has had support recently from the German parliament and the project will be supported by a favourable feed-in tariff.
Vulcan’s focus for 2021 is the definitive feasibility study as well as obtaining permitting, test-work on lithium extraction and advancing negotiations with potential European offtake partners.
Supplying Europe’s EV transition
The company owns Europe’s largest JORC-compliant lithium resource.
The project is located in what Vulcan describes as the heart of the European lithium-ion battery industry.
Vulcan plans to address the present situation where Europe is almost totally dependent on imports for its lithium hydroxide supply, mostly from China.
This comes at a time when Europe has the fastest growing market for lithium-ion batteries and for electric vehicles.
“Vulcan has a resource which can satisfy Europe’s need for the electric vehicle transition, from a zero-carbon source, for many years to come,” the company states.