The mineral lithium has been highlighted by Energy and Resource Minister Megan Woods as a potentially “strategic” metal for the country, much needed by the emerging electric vehicle demand around the world.
A recent GNS Science study commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment revealed lithium potential in the central North Island and the Hohonu Range on the West Coast of the South Island, nickel-cobalt potential in Nelson-Tasman-Marlborough and Southland regions, with potential for other rare earth elements (REE) on the West Coast.
“We now have a sound base to inform decisions on these strategic minerals which are widely used for energy storage in electric vehicles and other low emission technologies.
The study into lithium, REE and nickel-cobalt were released yesterday at the inaugural Minerals Forum in Queenstown, which attracted about 280 delegates.
REE's are at the forefront of new green technology, with China being largest supplier but having restricted exports during the past two years, sending prices skyrocketing.
Dr Woods also said there was “sky-rocketing demandaaa’ around the world for the minerals used in “clean-tech” and which could aid our transition to a low carbon economy.
“That (mineral) demand represents a real economic opportunity for New Zealand,'' Dr Woods told delegates.
She said innovative techniques were used to create three maps of potential REE prospectivity using geochemistry, geophysics, rock analyses and cutting-edge data interpretation methods; the first of their kind produced in NZ.
“The study has identified areas of potential while also ruling out other areas,” Dr Wood added.
*Simon Hartley is senior business reporter and assistant chief reporter for the Otago Daily Times.
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