Gazprom to explore lithium production, processing

Feb. 4, 2022
Gazprom inked agreements to advance lithium production at Kovyktinskoye gas field in eastern Russia.

Gazprom has inked agreements to advance lithium production at Kovyktinskoye gas field in eastern Russia. The project is part of the operator’s strategy to provide the country’s industrial complex with domestically-produced rare metals and rare earth metals by 2030—a goal set by the Russian government.

Lithium is used in various industrial applications, including the manufacture of rechargeable batteries for electric devices and electric vehicles.

On the heels of an October 2021 memorandum of intent signed by Gazprom and Irkutsk Oil Co. to implement a joint project for production and processing of formation brines (saline groundwaters) from the field to obtain lithium compounds, an agreement of cooperation was signed this month by Alexey Miller, chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, and Denis Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

A tripartite action plan was signed by Gazprom, Irkutsk Oil, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation. The parties will cooperate in research and development activities aimed at creating domestic technologies, equipment, and materials required to implement the project, as well as drawing up proposals regarding state support.

Russia currently imports all the lithium consumed nationwide. As demand for lithium is expected to grow, development of domestic technological expertise in the field of lithium production is important, Miller said in a Feb. 3 release.

A feasibility study has been completed, and initial estimates suggest such a project may cover the bulk of domestic demand for lithium in the long run, Miller said.

Gazprom holds the subsurface use license of Kovyktinskoye. Recoverable gas reserves at the field are 1.8 trillion cu m. Kovyktinskoye serves as the basis for the Irkutsk gas production center and, together with Chayandinskoye field in Yakutia, forms the resource base for the Power of Siberia gas pipeline.