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Lithium is a highly reactive alkali metal, and occurs in nature only in ionic form. It is an important new energy metal, and is used for a wide variety of applications, from batteries to industrial refrigeration systems. The most common way to obtain lithium is from brines. These vary in lithium content, and evaporation rate.

In China, Tianqi Lithium is one of the largest lithium producers. In 2018, the company produced almost 50,000 tpy of LCE. However, it intends to increase its total LCE production capacity to 58,800 tpy by 2019.

In addition to the evaporation of brines, lithium is also extracted through a process known as ion exchange. This method involves the stepwise displacement of lithium chloride in water with different concentrations of LiCl.

A second method uses a sorption-desorption module of four columns. This method is designed to increase the purity of lithium carbonate to 99.9%. To achieve this, the degree of abrasion of the sorbent is reduced to 7-10%.

Several lithium deposits exist in the world. The Mount Marion Mine, Pilgangoora Mine, and Greenbushes Mine in Western Australia, for example, have been able to produce significant feedstock. New projects in southern Africa are expected to be able to produce a substantial amount of lithium feedstock.

Lithium can be processed into various chemicals, including lithium chloride and butyl lithium. The latter can be used as a thickener in grease. Other applications include humidity control and industrial refrigeration systems.

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