FACT CHECK: Is This A Photo Of A Lithium Mine?
An image shared on Facebook purportedly shows a lithium mine.
The image shows a gold mine in Australia. Most lithium is not obtained through mining.
Approximately 86 million tons of lithium resources have been identified around the world, including 7.9 million in the U.S., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. An image shared on Facebook more than 440 times claims to show a lithium mine located near a populated area.
“This is a LIUTHIUM mine. One of several hundred spread around the world,” the captions reads. The post goes on to state that “tens of thousands of gallons” of diesel fuel are burned in order to mine the element.
The photo does not show a lithium mine, however. Mining.com and CNBC both shared photos of the same site and identified it as the Fimiston Open Pit gold mine, also known as the “super-pit,” in Kalgoorlie, Australia.
“The Super Pit is a gold-only operation,” Cannings Purple Investor Relations Director Peter Kingler, who works with the pit’s owner Northern Star Resources, told Check Your Fact in an email. “To the best of my knowledge there has not been any lithium production since the Super Pit was created about 40 years ago. Western Australia is home to several hard-rock lithium mines that feature open pits, which may be the cause of the confusion.”
There are no credible news reports suggesting that lithium has begun turning up in the mine. (RELATED: Did Ocasio-Cortez Tweet About Electric Cars During Hurricane Dorian?)
Colorado School of Mines Mining Engineering Department head Dr. Merritt Enders previously told Check Your Fact via email in May 2022 that “most lithium is processed in brine” and that only “some hard rock lithium deposits are mined using surface mining methods.”
“Much of the world’s lithium comes from brine operations where no mining is done,” Global Lithium LLC founder and Global Lithium Podcast host Joe Lowry said in an email to Check Your Fact. “There are less than 10 hard rock lithium mines (ex China) in commercial operation and they don’t all use the same equipment.”
A lithium plant, the Mount Marion Lithium Project, is located approximately 40 kilometers southwest of Kalgoorlie, according to Mining-Technology. An image of the project, as seen on MineralResources, shows a vastly different location than the one in the Facebook photo.