Lithium Bars

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Lithium is a silvery-white metal with one of the lowest melting points and boiling points among solids at normal temperatures. It is also a critical ingredient in lithium-ion batteries. The chemical also has many uses in glass, ceramics, metallurgy and pharmaceuticals (U.S. Geological Survey, 2019). Its low density makes it a good material to float on water and it has excellent electrical conductivity. It also has the lowest melting point of all the elements that are solid at room temperature.

It’s difficult to sift through all of the information about lithium, but what is clear is that demand is growing quickly for this versatile metal. The lithium market is expected to grow at an annual rate of about 12%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The United States has extensive lithium reserves but produces less than 2% of the world’s supply, mostly from a single large-scale mine in Nevada. Most of the rest is extracted from salt flats in Argentina, Chile and China, where it is pumped up into brine and concentrated through evaporation.

The Freemans’ project is different because they plan to excavate the spodumene and sell it for its rock form, not for its metal content. That’s important because the state has strict mining regulations, and the Freemans are fighting a decision by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to classify their deposit as a metallic mineral and prohibit them from digging open pits. The couple has filed two appeals with the Board of Environmental Protection, an independent group that presides over DEP decisions, and in Kennebec County Superior Court.