A new study by a team from the University of Sydney and Geoscience Australia has mapped the concentration and distribution of lithium across Australian soil, providing crucial insights for identifying potential reserves in the country. An open-access paper on the work is published in the journal Earth System Science Data.
Map showing predicted lithium concentrations in upper sediment (TOS) 0–10 cm and lower sediment (BOS) 60–80 cm with standard deviations for both. Ng et al.
Australia’s lithium exploration has predominantly centre din Western Australia, but this research indicates the potential of other Australian regions, including Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, that display elevated predicted lithium densities.
Senior study author Professor Budiman Minasny said that the findings could have significant implications for the lithium industry in Australia.
We’ve developed the first map of lithium in Australian soils which identifies areas with elevated concentrations. The map agrees with existing mines and highlights areas that can be potential future lithium sources.—Professor Minasny
The study indicates the highest lithium concentrations are found near the Mount Marion deposit of Western Australia, with elevated concentration across the central western region of Queensland, southern New South Wales and parts of Victoria.
The team used digital soil mapping techniques developed at the University of Sydney to gauge extractable lithium content present in soil samples collected across Australia.
The research paints a comprehensive overview of lithium distribution across the continent, which is influenced by a variety of environmental factors including climate, geology and vegetation.
Ng, W., Minasny, B., McBratney, A., de Caritat, P., and Wilford, J. (2023) “Digital soil mapping of lithium in Australia,” Earth Syst. Sci. Data, 15, 2465–2482 doi: 10.5194/essd-15-2465-2023