New study finds hidden lithium reserves in Australia

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Image credit: The University of Sydney

Researchers have mapped out potential reserves of lithium located across Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, opening up new possibilities for Australia’s lithium industry. 

Lithium is a valuable mineral with growing global demand for its applications in batteries, phones, laptops and electric vehicles. 

Australian exploration for the mineral is predominantly centred in Western Australia. 

However, the study published in the journal Earth System Science Data, revealed the potential of other Australian regions, including Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria, that display elevated predicted lithium densities. 

The study was led by researchers at the University of Sydney with co-authors from Geoscience Australia. 

Lead author Dr Wartini Ng, a postdoctoral research fellow in soil security from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, said the study paves the way for new possibilities in the Australian lithium industry and could also bring the country closer towards a low-carbon economy. 

“We’ve developed the first map of lithium in Australian soils which identifies areas with elevated concentrations,” said Professor Budiman Minasny, a senior study author and one of the leading international scientists in soil mapping and modelling. 

“The map agrees with existing mines and highlights areas that can be potential future lithium sources,” Minasny added. 

The study found the highest lithium concentrations near the Mount Marion deposit of Western Australia, with elevated concentrations across the central western region of Queensland, southern New South Wales, and parts of Victoria. 

The research team leveraged digital soil mapping techniques developed at the University of Sydney to gauge extractable lithium content present in soil samples collected across Australia.