Changing names and ownerships together with differing reserve estimates for the same deposits by different authorities reduce the reliabilities of the estimates contained in this paper. Hopefully, a more accurate estimate will emerge in time.
Major known pegmatites are Jiajika now owned by Sichuan Mineral Industry (480,000 Li), Maerkang (reserves variously reported at 80,000 and 225,000 tonnes Li) owned by Sichuan Ni and Co, , Daoxian (125,000 tonnes) and Lushi (9,000 tonnes) owned by Sterling Group Ventures and Sichuan Dexin’s mine at Jumehuan (50,000 tonnes). Reserve information in respect of other deposits including Ningdu, Kokotay is not available.
A conservative estimate of Chinese pegmatite reserves in 750,000 tonnes and many of these sources provide feed for chemical production.
Located in the Qaidam Basin in Qinghai Province are approximately 33 saline lakes. The first to be developed was Chaeran, one of a complex of nine lakes and is now the principal source of potash in China. The company, Qinghai Salt Lake Potash Co. has recently announced plans to recover lithium from the bitterns from the potash operation. The grade and tonnage of the bitterns are not known. Production of lithium from other lakes in the area was delayed because of the technical problems associated with brines with magnesium/lithium ratios as high as between 40 and 60/1. However, CITIC is now coming on stream at the Taijanaier Lakes where reserves are stated to total 940,000 tonnes Li.
Figures as high as 3.3 million tonnes of lithium have been quoted for the reserves of the Qaidam Basin as a whole but specific reserve data is lacking.
A larger number of saline lakes exist on the Tibetan Plateau.
At Zhabuye (also known as Chabyer?) Salt Lake production started in 2005 from a brine grading 0.12%Li. The company claims a reserve of 1.53 million tonnes Li (8.3 million tonnes of carbonate) but other sources say that the tonnage is significantly lower.
Sterling Group Ventures estimate reserves at Dangxiongscuo (DXC) Salt Lake, which they intend developing as 170,000 tonnes Li.
A total brine reserve of 2.6 million tonnes is estimated for China but it seems probable that this figure could increase substantially with more information.