Transforming lithium mining through AI

Lithium Mining and AI

NovaceneAI has partnered with Lithium Americas, a North America-based lithium mining company, to create better efficiencies and reduce its environmental footprint.

Every day, people rely on lithium.

They need it to power their hybrid and electric vehicles. They use it to recharge their cellphones and laptops. Some even depend on it for their mental health, as it is used as an ingredient in certain psychiatric medications.

According to the US Geological Survey, lithium is also “expected to play a key role in efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions that are responsible for global warming.” Lithium-ion batteries, for example, are important for storing renewable energy like solar power and wind power.

While there’s no doubt lithium will be key to combating global warming, companies are facing challenges to mine it more sustainably and efficiently. Lithium Americas, however, has discovered an innovative way to conduct their work – and has partnered with NovaceneAI to take a more sustainable and efficient approach through AI.

Seeking a new, data-driven solution

Lithium Americas is committed to maximizing the concentration of lithium found in underground brine water, also known as brines.

However, it’s not always a sustainable process.

“It can be a very energy-intensive process to drill, pump, and process lithium,” explains Deevyanshu Bhatia, a strategy analyst for Lithium Americas. 

When lithium is mined, he says it is pumped out of the ground and emptied into ponds where the water evaporates over time – leaving a brine with high concentrations of lithium. 

The problem, Bhatia says, is that nobody really knows the exact lithium concentration of the brines that are pumped from all the wells. If there was a way to predict the lithium concentration, it could save a lot of water and energy.

In addition to seeking a more efficient and sustainable process for mining lithium, the company needed a better process to analyze important data that helps inform their mining decisions.

“We want to see which variables affect our lithium production,” explains Luis Gibbons, head of Lithium Exploration and Project Development for Lithium Americas in Argentina. “Right now, that work is done by different engineers who try to sort out which variables need to be looked at. This involves hours and hours of processing data on Excel sheets.”

When Gibbons and Bhatia approached NovaceneAI, they were looking for an AI-based solution to help them maximize efficiencies in their data analytics, and create a more sustainable process to lithium mining.

“Using AI, machine learning, and any new technology in lithium is a brand-new concept,” says Bhatia. “Working with NovaceneAI appealed to us. They had experience in the mining industry and brought a lot of flexibility to their approach.”

Maximizing efficiencies, minimizing environmental impact

Bhatia says that NovaceneAI’s AI solution will help the company mine lithium more efficiently – but also more sustainably. 

AI can reduce the environmental impact using less water and energy, he explains.

“This AI solution will allow us develop a system where we can predict and know how much lithium concentration is in the brine that we’re pumping out,” he says. “A predictive model, which combines all the wells, will help to maximize lithium concentrations – which in turn will reduce energy and water consumption.”

Bhatia adds NovaceneAI’s AI solution will allow the company to track the different variables that impact its lithium production and efficiencies – saving its engineering team hours of processing data on Excel sheets to obtain this information.

“NovaceneAI really brings a data science aspect to our business,” he says. “Without having the data science and AI aspect, we would have tried our best. But there are things we would not have been able to do ourselves.” 

Marcelo Bursztein, Founder and CEO of NovaceneAI, says that the partnership aligns with NovaceneAI’s ability and expertise to extract insights from unstructured data – and can help Lithium Americas uncover the information it needs to conduct their mining operations more efficiently and sustainably. 

He says that this project illustrates AI’s incredible role in creating a more sustainable future. 

“We are very excited about this partnership,” Bursztein says. “It makes us feel like we’re on the right side of history, and we can be part of helping move towards a sustainable future in a responsible way.”

Beck Langstone, AI Solutions Analyst at NovaceneAI, adds that the company is well-positioned to help Lithium Americas take a more sustainable approach to the lithium mining process.  

“We have really wonderful engineers and creative minds that are great at solving problems like this,” she says, adding that the team recently completed a similar project in Newfoundland

AI: the future of sustainable mining

Gibbons says this project is just the beginning of incredible advancements being made in the mining industry, and that AI has the potential to improve other aspects of the industry.

“We are just starting with the production side – but there are so many other applications we can look at,” Gibbons says. “There are lots of other opportunities in the future, and this is just the beginning.”

Bhatia adds that the partnership with NovaceneAI will help Lithium Americas fulfill its goal of maximizing its efficiencies while minimizing its impact on the environment.

“AI has given us a solution to a problem we haven’t been able to solve before,” he says. “This solution has allowed us to become more efficient – and that efficiency means we can be greener, and better guardians of the planet.”