The chemical element lithium is classed as an alkali metal. It was discovered in 1817 by Johan Arfvedson.
Lithium is soft and silvery white and it is the least dense of the metals. It is highly reactive and does not occur freely in nature.
Freshly cut surfaces oxidize rapidly in air to form a black oxide coating. It is the only common metal that reacts with nitrogen at room temperature, forming lithium nitride.
Lithium burns with a crimson flame, but when the metal burns sufficiently well, the flame becomes a brilliant white.
Lithium has a high specific heat capacity and it exists as a liquid over a wide temperature range.
USES OF LITHIUM
Pure lithium metal is used in rechargeable lithium ion batteries and the metal is used as an alloy with aluminum, copper, manganese, and cadmium to make high performance aircraft parts.
Lithium also has various nuclear applications, for example as a coolant in nuclear breeder reactors and a source of tritium, which is formed by bombarding lithium with neutrons.
Lithium carbonate is used as a mood-stabilizing drug.
Lithium chloride and bromide are used as desiccants.
Lithium stearate is used as an all-purpose and high-temperature lubricant.
SOURCES OF LITHIUM
Currently, the supply of lithium globally is mostly extracted from brines and hard-rock deposits.
Brines: There are three types of lithium brine deposits: continental, geothermal and oil field. The most common are continental saline desert basins (also known as salt lakes, salt flats or salars). They are located in areas with geothermal activity and are made up of sand, minerals with brine and saline water with a high concentration of dissolved salts. A playa is a type of brine deposit whose surface is composed mostly of silts and clays.
Hard Rock Deposits: This is where conventional mining techniques are used to produce lithium from pegmatites and Hecorite Clays. This usually takes years to accomplish and the odds of an economic deposit remain surprisingly low.
Vanadium was discovered in 1801 by the Spanish scientist Andres Manuel del Rio.
Vanadium compounds are all toxic. Toxicity tends to increase with oxidation state.
The first commercial use of vanadium steel was the chassis of the Ford Model T.
Vanadium is paramagnetic.
The abundance of vanadium in the Earth’s crust is 50 parts per million.
The abundance of vanadium in seawater is 0.18 parts per billion.
Vanadium(V) oxide (V2O5) is used as a catalyst in the Contact Process to manufacture sulfuric acid.
USES OF VANADIUM
The main use of vanadium is in alloys, especially with steel.
Vanadium is used in nuclear applications, for producing rust-resistant spring and high-speed tool steels, and as a carbide stabilizer in making steels. 85% of all the vanadium produced goes into steel, 10% goes into alloys of titanium and 5% into all other uses.
-A small amount of vanadium adds strength, toughness, and heat resistance.
-Titanium-aluminum-vanadium alloy is used in jet engines and for high-speed aircraft.
-Vanadium-gallium tape is used in superconducting magnets.
-Vanadium pentoxide is used in ceramics and as a catalyst for the production of sulfuric acid.
-Vanadium “redox flow” batteries
SOURCES OF VANADIUM
Vanadium occurs in many minerals in minute quantities. It is not mined from any specific mineral, but rather obtained as a by-product from other mining processes. Vanadium is mined from magnetite concentrations in layered mafic igneous rocks, mainly in South Africa, and from sandstone uranium deposits in Russia, China and the USA. It is also obtained from crude oil and bitumen from a leaching extraction process, where it occurs in small amounts.
Cobalt was first isolated by Swedish chemist George Brandt in 1735. He showed it was the presence of the element cobalt that caused the blue color in glass, not bismuth as previously thought.
Cobalt is a hard, grey metal that looks much like iron and nickle. It is ductile but only moderately malleable. Ductile means capable of being drawn into thin wires, malleable means capable of being hammered into thin sheets.
Cobalt is one of only three naturally occurring magnetic metals. The other two are iron and nickle. The magnetic properties of cobalt are even more obvious in alloys. An alloy is made by melting and mixing two or more metals. The mixture has properties different from those of the individual metals.
USES OF COBALT
Cobalt, like iron, can be magnetised and so is used to make magnets. It is alloyed with aluminium and nickel to make particularly powerful magnets.
Other alloys of cobalt are used in jet turbines and gas turbine generators, where high-temperature strength is important.
Cobalt metal is sometimes used in electroplating because of its attractive appearance, hardness and resistance to corrosion.
Cobalt salts have been used for centuries to produce brilliant blue colours in paint, porcelain, glass, pottery and enamels.
Radioactive cobalt-60 is used to treat cancer and, in some countries, to irradiate food to preserve it.
SOURCES OF COBALT
There are many natural sources of cobalt compounds, and these are mined extensively for a wide range of uses in today’s medical and industrial sectors. Cobalt, unlike gold, platinum and silver, is never found in its elemental metallic form since it is reasonably reactive.
Cobalt itself is not a particularly rare metal and can be found distributed widely not only on land, but also underwater in the Earth’s crust. Consequently, it is often found in compounds with other metals mineralized in the ground. The most common minerals from which cobalt can be profitably extracted are called Cobaltite and Erythrite.
Cobaltite is a mineral found abundantly in Australia, Canada, Russia and Norway. It consists of cobalt, arsenic and sulphur, but may also contain traces of iron and nickel. Cobaltite is typically found deep in the ground, and hence must be mined to a distance of approximately fifty metres underground. While superficially remote, this position is very favourable considering arsenic is a very poisonous element which must be handled carefully and cautiously.
Lithcor has through various area sampling been able to indicate a variety of other notable and economic minerals available and will actively pursue these in conjunction with the primary focused mineral extraction in the future.