As the world moves towards clean technologies such as electric vehicles, AusIMM’s Lithium, Battery and Energy Metals Conference in September will showcase how the mining industry is responding to growing battery demand and driving the energy transition.
For the fourth consecutive year, AusIMM and Murdoch University will host the Lithium, Battery and Energy Metals Conference from September 1-2, 2021 at Optus Stadium in Perth, Western Australia.
The conference will also be held online via AusIMM’s virtual platform.
More than 250 industry professionals are expected to attend the event, which will focus on the future of the lithium and the battery metals industries, trends in lithium extraction techniques and the impact of COVID-19 on commodities.
As the trusted voice for professionals working across the minerals value chain, AusIMM understands that lithium, battery and energy metals are essential commodities for modern life. Innovation, best practice and the highest standards of technical, social and environmental performance are critical enablers for development in this rapidly-evolving sector.
For AusIMM chief executive officer Stephen Durkin, the conference is a vital forum for uniting professionals in leading the way for the industry and broader community.
“AusIMM is proud to be continuing our legacy of leadership in relation to lithium, battery and energy metals. These commodities are fundamental not only to the future of the resources sector, but to the enduring social and economic benefits we deliver worldwide,” Durkin says.
“Sustainable, responsible development is vital here. By connecting leaders across whole value chain, the Lithium, Battery and Energy Metals Conference helps advance best practice and support a strong, sustainable sector.”
This year’s line-up of guest speakers includes representatives from lithium and battery metals mining companies, including Vulcan Energy Resources founder and chief executive officer Francis Wedin, Pilbara Minerals managing director and chief executive officer Ken Brinsden and IGO chief operating officer Matt Dusci.
Vulcan Energy is planning to produce lithium hydroxide from its geothermal-lithium project in the Upper Rhine Valley in Germany. The company plans to enter production in 2024 as the world’s first zero carbon lithium company.
Chief executive Wedin says the company has cracked the code for its trademarked Zero Carbon Lithium project.
“Vulcan was formed to be a zero carbon lithium company,” he tells Australian Mining.
“We started from the ground up to design a process to produce lithium with net zero greenhouse gas emissions and without fossil fuels.”
Wedin will discuss sustainable lithium processing techniques at the Lithium, Battery and Energy Metals Conference, including its own lithium extraction process, which uses the renewable heat from geothermal brine to power the extraction of lithium, with excess renewable energy sold to the grid.
“What we’re doing is we’re developing a combined geothermal renewable energy and lithium brine project,” Wedin says.
“So, we have a geothermal brine which is hosted in the subsurface of the Upper Rhine Valley, which produces geothermal energy from this brine.
“The key to this is using geothermal heat and renewable power to drive the lithium extraction process.”
As lithium production ramps up, Wedin says countries like Australia should aim to crack down on carbon emissions from battery raw materials in response to demands from electric vehicle makers to produce zero carbon vehicles.
“Australia needs to work hard to eliminate net carbon emissions in battery raw materials production, which is becoming more important for the consumer,” he says.
“Original equipment manufacturers in Europe and across the world have increasingly pledged to produce net zero carbon electric vehicles, prioritising battery raw material sources that have low or zero carbon footprint.”
According to Wedin, AusIMM’s Lithium, Battery and Energy Metals Conference bridges the gap between academia and mining companies, allowing them to network to help develop new initiatives and technologies.
“AusIMM is a very respected institution. It’s a good forum for these two areas to meet,” he says.
“Australia is very blessed with its resources. We need to stay ahead of the curve for the future in terms of technologies for extraction, processing and recycling and to maintain a technological edge to ensure Australia remains competitive.
“We’re interested in new battery technologies as well and we’ll be listening with a keen ear.”
Looking at the future of lithium, Wedin says demand is likely to outstrip supply over the next five to 10 years.
And while Vulcan Energy’s current focus is on Europe, the ASX-listed company believes that Australia is well placed to deliver low-cost production of lithium and battery metals.
“Australia is positioned to become a low-cost producer for decades,” Wedin says. “It has a very well set up regulatory system and workforce for lithium and other battery materials. It is very well positioned to ride the wave of lithium and battery metals, provided it can keep up with global demands for net zero carbon production.”
For more information on the conference, visit the Lithium, Battery and Energy Metals Conference website https://www.ausimm.com/conferences-and-events/lithium.
This article appeared in the July edition of Australian Mining.