Zinnwald Lithium is committed to fostering long-term partnerships with the local community, organisations and authorities. The Altenberg region is an area of outstanding natural beauty that has increasingly become a home for local recreation and tourism.

We have a responsibility to ensure that our activities support the local economy and uphold the quality of life of the region.

Benefits to local economy

Estimated 400 jobs in first five years

Estimated €2 billion in taxes over the life of the project

Providing locally-sourced lithium hydroxide to German industry

Providing locally-sourced SOP fertiliser to local farming

Limiting local disruption

Underground mining 200m to 300m below ground will avoid noise disturbance

Potential to complete the pre-crushing stage underground

Ore transport via underground tunnel will avoid road traffic

Frequently Asked Questions

Two key benefits of the project are tax revenues and employment opportunities.

Taxes: We estimate that the project with generate over €2 billion in income taxes alone over its lifetime.

Employment: Each stage of the project will create new jobs. For example, the mining operation itself will need around 90 employees ranging from mining engineers, surveyors and geologists to truck drivers, mechanics and electricians. The chemical processing facility will also be a significant job creator, and we expect the overall project to create about 400 jobs in total.

The starting date for construction is dependent on financing and permitting. We are targeting to begin construction during 2025. Once started, the build is expected to take about two years.

Dependent on permitting and financing, we are currently targeting 2028 for the start of production.

A key advantage of underground mining is that it’s much less disruptive than open-pit mining.

Mining activity will take place 200 to 300 metres below the surface (for context: the Eiffel Tower is about 300m) and this will significantly limit the impact on people in the surrounding area . To further limit noise and dust, we are hoping to do the first stage of crushing the ore underground, which would help reduce disruption.

We do not use any toxic chemicals as reagents in our processing. The leach process, which dissolves the lithium into the leach liquor that goes into the chemical processing phase, is done with water rather than acid.

There will be two main types of waste: quartz sand and waste from the processing stage.

Quartz sand. In the initial processing stage, we crush the rock into sand before it goes into a magnetic separator that extracts the high-grade material. The leftover material is a type of sand equivalent to a building aggregate already being mined nearby for use in various construction industries.

Leach residue. The leaching stage produces a lithium-rich liquid which is the starting point for chemical processing (this is the final stage that produces the lithium hydroxide other saleable chemical by-products). This “leach liquor” needs to be purified, and the residue from that process becomes a non-toxic dry waste product. We are exploring opportunities to find commercial uses for this waste stream. Alternatively, being a benign material, it can be placed underground as backfill material.

The rock we are mining is mainly granite, which is non-toxic to start with, so the waste in the form of quartz sand is benign.

The waste in the form of leach residue is also non-toxic. We have pilot tested our process from start to finish using samples from the mine site, and toxic elements—notably arsenic, cadmium and lead, which are common problems in other forms of mining—were not detected. 

The Zinnwald Lithium mine will be a 30+ year project, so waste storage planning is crucial. We are currently exploring several options that could help minimise the impact on the surrounding area. In the meantime, here are some ways we’ve identified to reduce our footprint:

  1. Less waste to begin with: Our process is designed to minimise waste and produce as many useful by-products as possible.
  2. Recycling: waste in the form of quartz sand will be moved off site and sold to the construction industry to the extent possible.
  3. Putting waste back where it came from: we plan to use the so-called “Avoca” method which fills the excavated areas back up with waste material as we go. We estimate that up to 90% of the mined-out void can be backfilled like this. In addition to being an efficient form of storage, backfilling adds structural integrity and minimises any risk of any potential subsidence.
  4. Repurposing above-ground infrastructure: a nearby storage facility, previously used by the Altenberg mine, is partially empty and could potentially be used to store waste.

Two of the ways in which we are seeking to reduce our impact on road traffic are rail and underground transport. 

  1. Underground ore transport: When we move the ore out of the mine, the first 6km of the journey will happen underground. This stage involves the biggest volumes of material, so avoiding overland truck transport can make a big difference. 
  2. Rail transport: There is a rail line near to the mine site, so we are looking to build a railhead to connect the mine to the rail network. Among other things, this can be used to transport quartz sand, a bulky by-product of the process, to buyers in the construction industry. 

Zinnwald Lithium?

Zinnwald Lithium is seeking to build a world-leading, highly economic business that will uphold high environmental standards. Find out more about the investment case.

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