Brine Lithium Harvesting Superior To Hard Rock Mining? You Decide

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Before launching into a comparison of hard rock lithium mining vs. harvesting lithium brines, it's important to point out that hard rock mining can be preferable to alternative methods, but usually only where hard rock mining is already entrenched in places like the Greenbushes mine located in south Western Australia... Also, I use the word, “lithium” loosely to describe lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide and other forms of lithium. Please see applicable disclosures at the bottom of this article.

Conventional wisdom suggests that hard rock lithium mining occupies a much larger environmental footprint, takes a longer time from exploration to production and is more expensive than brine harvesting methodologies. This alone makes old fashioned hard rock mining less and less popular around the globe. Materials like lithium are undergoing a paradigm shift, (a well regarded infographic sponsored by Dajin Resources Corp. (DJI.V) (DJIFF), created by Visual Capitalist describes this topic in depth). The case in favor of hard rock mining in most extractive industries is crumbling.

A number of annual reports from consulting groups point to, "resource nationalism" and a, "social license to operate" as substantial risk factors facing large-scale projects. As I hope to demonstrate, harvesting lithium brines is not only less expensive (possibly far less) it's more environmentally friendly, less energy intensive, reaches small commercial scale production faster, is preferred by locals, has more predictable op-ex and is easier to remediate at completion.

Hard Rock Mining

Starting at the early exploration stage, a geologist must begin spending time, energy and capital right away. Expensive and potentially many deep drill holes must be punched into the ground. After months of analyzing the drill data, if promising results are inferred, the best case scenario is more drilling. The goal is either a, "discovery," which could make the deposit appear economically viable. More likely, additional exploration dollars, drilling and dreaming is required. If the next drill campaign is successful (far from a sure thing) it might be followed by infill drilling to generate a resource estimate (not yet a, Preliminary Economic Assessment, "PEA").

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Disclosure: Dajin Resources (ticker DJI.V) (DJIFF​) more

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