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Ma’aden extracts lithium from seawater

Ma’aden has successfully extracted lithium from seawater, the CEO of the Saudi Arabian company told Reuters.

“We are actually producing lithium from seawater now,” Robert Wilt said, without giving further details.

According to Wilt, however, it is still a pilot project and not yet at commercially viable levels.

Investments in the battery industry are a key pillar of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 program to diversify the economy away from oil dependency and transform the country into an EV hub.

Saudi Arabia’s national oil giant Aramco is also attempting to extract lithium from brine in its oilfields. However, Wilt says Aramco’s efforts are so far separate from Ma’aden’s.

“We are both working on parallel paths: Ma’aden on extracting lithium from seawater and Aramco from brines where lithium has a higher concentration,” he said.

“There are ongoing discussions about how we can join forces,” he added.

According to the executive, the miner is also looking overseas for interests in copper, lithium, iron ore, and nickel.

In December, Manara acquired a 10% stake in Brazil’s $26 billion copper and nickel miner Vale Base Metals.

“We like things in East Asia through Africa because we are potentially a centralized processing hub,” Wilt said.

Wilt, who is vice chairman of Manara Minerals, also said that the company was not looking at acquiring the diamond business De Beers.

Anglo American has considered selling off its less profitable businesses like De Beers as it fends off BHP Group’s $43 billion takeover offer.

“The kingdom does not need diamonds for its downstream development,” Wilt said. “Manara’s mandate is industrial metals that fuel downstream growth.”

Manara Minerals is a joint venture between Ma’aden and Saudi Arabia’s $925 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), to invest in mining assets abroad.

Ma’aden, the kingdom’s flagship mining company, is 67% owned by the PIF.

(With files from Reuters)

Source: MINING.COM – Read More