Living in a material world

IT IS little secret that the minerals mined are crucial to everyone’s ways of life. However, those minerals are harder to come by and other minerals are emerging. The challenge is in finding ways to extract them.

Living in a material world Living in a material world Living in a material world Living in a material world Living in a material world

Graphite rock.

The arrival of the latest tranche of electric cars and the growth of renewable energy has increased demand for lithium and other battery minerals such as nickel and cobalt.

Lithium, particularly in the spodumene form found most readily in Australia, is one metal conundrum hydrometallurgists are trying crack. The spodumene can be concentrated to about 6% and then the material is shipped - usually to China - for further processing.

The main way of extracting the metal at the moment is roasting - and three refineries are being set up in Western Australia's Kwinana industrial strip. However, there are hopes of somebody cracking the hydrometallurgical code and getting the metal out that way.

On the new minerals front, Rio Tinto has discovered jadarite in Serbia, a ...