We will be supplying a critical material in Europe’s electric vehicle supply chain, without the cost and carbon-intensity of long-distance transport. Our customers will have the reassurance of a product that is mined and processed according to European standards.

Key principles behind our mining concept and process design are to minimise waste, to repurpose and “upcycle” existing infrastructure, and continuously to look for ways to manage our environmental footprint.

  • Process design seeks to minimise waste products
  • Mining waste can be used to re-fill 90% of the mined-out space
  • Potential to repurpose existing Altenberg mine waste facilities.
  • Full compliance with European Water Framework Directive around groundwater, surface water and mine water
  • Every effort will be made to optimise water recirculation and process water recovery
  • The process makes limited use of water, especially compared with brine producers
  • No toxic waste: Testing confirms our process does not give off toxic by-products like arsenic, cadmium or lead
  • Reagents used in processing are non-toxic
  • Water leaching instead of acid leaching means cleaner waste
  • Located close to end market, no long-distance transport
  • Underground ore transport via electric haulage is less energy intensive
  • The roasting stage will be the most CO2 intensive step in the production process. We continue to work on ways to improve the project’s CO2 efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

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.

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.

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.

Highlights of the March 2024 operational update

Exploring the implications of a larger total resource and a more efficient processing route backed by Metso of Finland. ...

Highlights of the revised mineral resource estimate

The Zinnwald deposit is now the EU's second-largest hard-rock lithium resource. What does this mean for the project? ...

Zinnwald Lithium & Metso Advance Joint Testwork Programme

With a vision to build a world-leading integrated lithium hydroxide operation that adheres to the highest environmental standards, Zinnwald Lithium ...

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