Vulcan has acquired direct access to lithium-enriched brine at the operating Insheim geothermal plant and Insheim exploitation licence via a binding memorandum of understanding with German utility Pfalzwerke geofuture GmbH.
The Insheim geothermal plant is currently pumping hot, high-flow, lithium-enriched brine from aquifer depths of >2,980m to the surface for power generation. Pfalzwerke geofuture is not processing or extracting lithium as part of the power generation circuit before the reinjecting the brine back down into the reservoir and the MoU grants Vulcan an initial collaboration period that allows access to the Insheim Licence brine and data, with a pathway to construct a lithium extraction demonstration plant at Insheim in the future.
The agreement marks a material milestone for Vulcan as the company has obtained access (and a pathway to co-production lithium rights) to lithium-enriched brine from within the deep aquifer underlying the Insheim Exploitation Licence.
The Insheim Licence is 19km2 and brings Vulcan's total land position in the Upper Rhine Graben to 807.19km2 (80,719 hectares). A total of seven cross-sectional slices of interpreted geology from the surface to basement spaced approximately 1km apart were used to create a 3D subsurface stratigraphic model. The original cross-sections were derived from GeORG, a publicly available digital geological atlas of geothermal information. The sub-surface model for the Insheim Licence was validated against 2D seismic profiles and geothermal well data provided by Pfalzwerke geofuture.
Using the commercial mine planning software MicroMine (v 18.0), a resource domain area consisting of the Lower Triassic Buntsandstein and Permocarboniferous Rotliegend groups (Permo-Triassic strata) were wireframed as the main aquifer domain for the Insheim resource.
The Permo-Triassic strata, which has an average thickness of 438m, corresponds with Insheim production well perforation windows in which the well currently derives brine for geothermal power production. The Insheim Licence Permo-Triassic aquifer domain, or resource area, was clipped to the boundaries of the Insheim Licence. The Insheim Permo-Triassic aquifer domain was used to define the Insheim Licence aquifer volume.
"With Vulcan's maiden indicated mineral resource estimate at Insheim, we are continuing to advance our Zero Carbon Lithium project at a rapid rate," said managing director, Francis Wedin. "The use of data from producing wells at Insheim allows for increased confidence in the resource category used. It increases the size of the JORC lithium resource at the Vulcan project, already easily the largest in Europe, and increasingly highlights the potential for it to be the primary source for the European battery industry's lithium hydroxide needs, via a low-impact, Zero Carbon Lithium process powered by and sourced from geothermal wells.
"The supply-demand dynamic is compelling: European lithium-ion battery production is the fastest growing in the world, with new capacity plans announced regularly, but this market has zero local supply of battery-quality lithium hydroxide."
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