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MOL will soon extract lithium from the underground waters of Pusztaföldvár (south-east Hungary). The alkali metal can be used in a wide range of applications, such as in battery production, glass manufacturing, and aerospace. Experts from MOL say that the water already brought to the surface during hydrocarbon extraction will be used to extract lithium, a process that will be circular and much more environmentally friendly than current mining methods around the world.

MOL revealed last week that the company is launching a pilot project for lithium extraction, reports Index. The site is Pusztaföldvár, a village in Békés County with a population of around 1,400. The water, brought to the surface during hydrocarbon extraction will be used, Archibald Schubert, MOL’s director of research and production, told the news portal.

He added that

lithium is a crucial raw material for the energy transition and is used in battery production, among many other applications.

The preparation of the so-called Lithium Project started in 2019 with the analysis of water samples. It was then that they realized that the Pusztaföldvár site was rich in alkali metal.

MOL has set itself the goal of a greener, more sustainable operation:

“Conventional technologies, still widely used worldwide, have a high environmental impact. Both opencast mining and distillation have significant disadvantages compared to the technology we are introducing here,” said Archibald Schubert, highlighting the drawbacks of the conventional technologies currently in use.

However, the state-of-the-art technology MOL is testing is the most environmentally friendly solution: it uses groundwater that is already mined for oil production in a gentle, circular way and spares the agricultural lands,”

he pointed out.

He added that “lithium is also vital from a national strategic point of view, as it is an essential component of future technologies – just think of car or mobile phone batteries. In addition, the fact that we do not have to rely exclusively on foreign sources, such as China, for alkali metals provides security of supply.”

However, there are still a lot of uncertainties surrounding the extraction of lithium in Hungary. For instance, the price of alkali metal on the world market is very volatile, and measurements are still ongoing, so we do not know exactly in what quantity and quality the metal is available to us, said Dávid Kapes, head of MOL’s research and production division of low carbon and new energies.

The expert thinks that it is therefore impossible to talk about the exact expected revenue, but they hope that Hungarian lithium will be commercially available within a few years.

Even test production costs billions of forints, and expansion could cost tens of billions, Dávid Kapes pointed out. “We are looking for new ways to use our oil industry experience to benefit a renewable energy and low-carbon world,” he added.

Even after considering the risks, MOL remains hopeful for domestic lithium extraction. They plan to complete the selection of suitable wells in Pusztaföldvár next year. This will be followed by the testing of several R&D (research and development) technologies, all operating on the same basic principle, in order to find the most suitable one for production. Their long-term plans include the production of up to several thousand tonnes of lithium per year, which will make them a major player in this market.

MOL Signs Authority Contract on Production Levels
MOL Signs Authority Contract on Production Levels

In addition to MOL Plc., the state has signed agreements with Magyar Horizont Ltd. and O&GD Central Ltd.Continue reading

Via Index, Featured image: Facebook/MOL

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