Raw materials for the solar future
SolarWorld’s lithium activities
SolarWorld Solicium GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary of SolarWorld AG, who has been exploring for lithium in Zinnwald, southern Saxony in Germany, since 2011. Currently, a feasibility study on the cost-effectiveness of excavating and preparing zinnwaldite, the mineral that contains lithium, as well as manufacturing lithium carbonate, is being performed together with the Technical University of Freiberg and other partners.
Lithium carbonate is one of the main source products in manufacturing lithium-ion batteries, which are high-performance batteries used in cell phones and laptops, in addition to supplying mobile energy in the electric and hybrid cars of the future. Lithium-ion batteries are also storage units for renewable energy sources – future-oriented and excellent examples of innovative technology.
Zinnwaldite is named after the region from which it is mined (Zinnwald, Germany) and it is a mineral containing lithium. The mineral is first extracted from the ore and then dressed or crushed in the subsequent stages of processing. The material is subjected to magnetic separation to separate the magnetic zinnwaldite from the non-magnetic raw ore, and it is enriched to a zinnwaldite concentration. This concentration is then roasted and leached by means of dilution in order to separate the lithium from the mineral. The lithium-rich solutions are further processed to lithium carbonate using chemicals, resulting in a white, inorganic powder. The customers of lithium carbonate are manufacturers of cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries.