The Dangers of Lithium Mining
Lithium is a white powder that is essential for the manufacture of electric car batteries. In 2021, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), global production is close to 100,000 metric tons, a figure 20% higher than in 2020. Global consumption in 2021 is estimated to be 93,000 metric tons. This is due to strong growth in global demand, particularly because of the accelerated production of EV batteries required for the energy transition.
Many countries are beginning to develop their own lithium mining industry, as the number of mining projects has increased in recent years in several countries. As the need for lithium batteries increases, the mining and processing of lithium can increase the health and safety risks of plant workers and those mining the metal.
As the need for lithium batteries increases, the mining and processing of lithium can increase the health and safety risks of plant workers and those mining the metal. Naturally, lithium is a soft, silver-grayish-white substance (yellow when exposed to oxygen) metal that is odorless.
Without protection, lithium can severely irritate and burn the skin and eyes. Inhaling unsafe concentrations of the substance can first begin to irritate the nose and throat, eventually leading to lung irritation. Higher levels of exposure can lead to loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. Soon, exposure can result in fluid build-up in the lungs, headaches, muscle weakness, confusion, seizures and more serious symptoms. Lithium is highly reactive and corrosive when in flammable and moist environments.
Otis Instruments offers the OI-6900 Explosion Proof Dual Battery Powered WireFree Sensor Assembly, a wireless, dual battery-powered assembly that uses an electrochemical, PID or low-power infrared sensor element to detect a variety of toxic or combustible gases.
The OI-6900 offers non-intrusive calibration, allowing the device to remain Class I, Division 1, Groups C and D certified, while adjustments are made in the field. It continuously monitors the gas level of the surrounding environment and reports once a minute, the reporting rate will increase to once every five seconds when the detected gas is above the Background Gas Set-point. This set-point is adjustable to account for sites that may have a constant low level of gas always present. The display screen always shows the present gas concentration.
This gas detection solution is one of several great options offered by Otis Instruments for lithium mining companies wanting to maintain environmental regulations while also keeping their workers safe. Otis Instruments offers a variety of Wired and WireFree easy-to-use, robust and configurable gas detectors. Made in the USA, our high-quality products are capable of detecting both toxic and non-toxic gases for diverse applications. If you would like more information about gas detection solutions for your application, lithium mining production, or have a question for us, contact our team today.