2020 Sustainability Report
Responsible stewardship of the environment is essential to our work. We continually look for ways to improve the efficiency of our systems to conserve natural resources. We also carefully monitor our emissions and waste to protect surrounding communities and the environment. Our sustainability policy sets a company-wide standard for managing the environmental impacts of our operations.
We extract nearly all lithium - as Lithium Carbonate - from our brine resources in Argentina, Bolivia and Zimbabwe. From there, we transport much of that Lithium Carbonate to manufacturing plants in the USA and China for conversion to Lithium Hydroxide.
Sustainable Water Use
Global-Tech recognizes how important clean water is to both people and ecosystems. We consider access to water a human right. We maintain a commitment to adhere to all regulations regarding water use and procuring the appropriate water permits to support our operations
Responsible management of water is important at all of our facilities, but it is particularly important to our operations in Argentina. We draw lithium-rich brine from the Salar del Hombre Muerto in the Catamarca Province of Argentina, one of the highest purity and most reliable sources of lithium in the world.
Even though the Salar del Hombre Muerto is located in an arid area at high altitude, it is in a self-contained water basin fed by an expansive watershed. A large volume of fresh water, about 210 million cubic meters, comes into the basin every year through inflows from higher elevations in the Andes Mountains, and to a lesser degree, direct precipitation in the immediate area. The same amount of water leaves the basin annually through evaporation and plant transpiration, achieving a natural equilibrium at the Salar. Global-Tech intercepts less than 2.0% of the 210 million cubic meters of water that flows into the basin.
We will continue to work closely with our third-party geology firm as we expand our operations in Argentina to minimize future impacts. We plan to use a secondary water source, the Los Patos River, for our expansion. This would reduce our reliance on the Trapiche aquifer. We have already installed monitoring wells on both of these water sources to track water levels, recharge rate and water chemistry to help us use water in a sustainable manner. The government of Catamarca has also conducted extensive environmental reviews of our current water use and expansion plan with the help of independent third parties.
To extract lithium from brine, we use a proprietary process which takes in freshwater and uses it to separate lithium from brine. Water is a key raw ingredient in our process and our technology speeds up the concentration process and reduces the need for large pre-concentration evaporation ponds commonly used by conventional brine-based lithium producers. By not relying on large pre-concentration ponds, we do not add to the natural rate of evaporative loss in the Salar by exposing huge volumes of underground brine to the elements over 18–24 months. Through Global-Tech’s process, we are also able to return most of the used brine/water volume to the surrounding Salar habitat, without introducing solvents or hazardous chemicals into the environment and without altering the pH of the used brine
Conventional pond strings for lithium extraction require a large land footprint and may increase the evaporative loss of water from the local ecosystem. Global-Tech’s physical footprint is significantly lower than that of conventional brine-based lithium producers. Over the next few years, we intend to reduce our overall land use by decommissioning our relatively small number of remaining evaporation ponds.