The Nikkei reports that Itochu Corp. is participating in a project to extract lithium from the produced water from geothermal power generation at a site in California.
Itochu has taken a roughly 20% stake in Simbol Mining Corp., a company founded in 2007 to produce commodity minerals and metals—specifically lithium, manganese, and zinc—from geothermal, oil and gas, and other brines. Itochu has obtained exclusive sales rights for Asia, except for India, according to the report.
The lithium will be produced at geothermal power facilities near the Salton Sea in the Imperial Valley region of Southern California. The lithium will be extracted from water geothermally heated underground and used for power generation. The lithium will be ready for shipment after undergoing dehydration and concentration processes.
The project will target annual production of 16,000 tons, or nearly 20% of the current global output, after three to four years.
Itochu is also an investor in Li-ion battery manufacturer Ener1. (Earlier post.)