Acording to PressTV, Iran’s state-run television network, a deposit in the western province of Hamedan holds about 8.5 million metric tonnes of lithium ore, according to a senior official in the country’s Ministry of Industry, Mining and Trade (MIMT).
The discovery was made in the western province of Hamedan, and more of these lithium ore deposits are anticipated to be located shortly, according to Ebrahimali Molabeigi, who heads MIMT’s exploration department, PressTV said.
If accurate, this finding would significantly improve Iran’s economy, which has suffered for years as a result of American sanctions and embargoes. Given the importance of lithium in the production of batteries, any shift away from fossil fuels is anticipated to rely substantially on lithium. This is Iran’s first discovery of lithium.
The following are the greatest known lithium resources in the world (excluding Iran), according to the US Geological Survey: Bolivia has 21 million tonnes, Argentina has 20, Chile has 11, Australia has 7,9, and China has 6,8 million tonnes. In the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir, India recently discovered 5.9 million tonnes of inferred lithium deposits.
Nowadays, lithium may be found in practically any electronic equipment that uses a rechargeable battery, from cell phones to electric vehicles (EVs).
Anode, cathode, separator, electrolyte, and two current collectors make up a battery (positive and negative).
Aqueous electrolyte solutions are used in lithium-ion batteries, where ions move back and forth between the cathode (positive electrode made of lithium) and anode (negative electrode often made of graphite), causing the electrons to be recharged and discharged.
Even potential lithium-ion battery substitutes, such the solid-state lithium-metal battery from QuantumScape Inc., still need lithium. This is mainly because lithium is lighter than other metals (such nickel, which is used in conventional batteries) and has greater electrochemical potential.
Given the growing environmental issues associated with internal combustion engines and the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) as an alternative, lithium has become particularly valuable. All electric vehicles currently use lithium in their battery packs, and demand is expected to increase significantly over the next few decades.
According to a 2020 World Bank research on the transition to clean energy, to fulfil the rising demand for clean energy technology, production of minerals including graphite, lithium, and cobalt could increase by approximately 500% by 2050.
Iran’s relations with the West have been tense ever since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which culminated in the fall of the Western-friendly Pahlavi monarchy and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran under Ayatollah Khomeini.
When 52 American diplomats and citizens were held hostage for 444 days after some radical students seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, the US imposed the first sanctions. Sanctions were removed in 1981, but were reinstated in reaction to Iran’s “support for international terrorist” actions.
Since then, the nation has been subject to a range of sanctions from the US, the EU, and the UN, with the severity of each one varying depending on the state of world politics.
The Iranian economy and its people have suffered as a result of these sanctions, which have been used to attempt and influence Iran’s domestic policies, such as its contentious uranium enrichment programme, over the years. These have made it difficult for Iran to engage in the global economy, resulting in a wide range of ongoing shortages, from food and consumer products to technology.
The alleged discovery of lithium ore will be extremely beneficial in this situation. In a statement to the press on Friday, Mohammad Hadi Ahmadi, a representative of the MIMT, praised the precious metal’s incredible export potential and its prospective application by numerous local Iranian companies.
Yet, Iran won’t instantly benefit from this revelation. The lithium deposits were found in Qahavand Plain, Hamadan, and Ahmadi estimates that it will take roughly four years to ready the mines for operation. The deposits span a five to six square kilometre region.
It is important to note that neither the prospecting stage nor any technical details about the reserves have been disclosed in Iran’s official declarations. While it is possible that Iran has found lithium ore reserves, the full importance of the discovery cannot be determined until more details regarding the reserves are made public.
Resources are classified using the three key factors determining their recoverability as per the United Nations Framework for Classification for Reserves and Resources of Solid Fuels and Mineral Commodities (UNFC 1997):
The most recent discovery made by India was given the classification G4, which suggests that it was the result of a reconnaissance investigation rather than more in-depth feasibility and economic viability analyses.
According to the UNFC, “Reconnaissance study identifies areas of enhanced mineral potential on a regional scale based primarily on results of regional geological studies, regional geological mapping, airborne and indirect methods, preliminary field inspection, as well as geological inference and extrapolation. The objective is to identify mineralized areas worthy of further investigation towards deposit identification.”
Iran’s discovery is probably also in this classification stage. If so, more research is needed to determine the reserves’ commercial feasibility as well as the best way to set up a mining operation. This will be difficult, especially given the economic sanctions Iran is subject to.