More Than Just Fool’s Gold: Scientists Uncover Hidden Treasure in Pyrite


Recent research led by West Virginia University explores new sources of lithium, such as mine tailings and drill cuttings, in light of the increased demand for this critical mineral, essential for lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and storing renewable energy. The findings reveal unexpectedly high concentrations of lithium in pyrite minerals within shale. This discovery could lead to sustainable mining practices that do not require new mines, emphasizing the potential for lithium-sulfur batteries and promoting environmentally friendly resource extraction.

There’s a reason airlines won’t let you put your laptop in your checked luggage; the lithium-ion battery poses a serious fire hazard. But why? Lithium is incredibly reactive.

For instance, pure lithium violently interacts with seemingly innocuous water, releasing heat and forming highly flammable hydrogen. This reactivity, however, is exactly why lithium makes a great material for batteries, and why it is a critical mineral for the green energy transition.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in electric vehicles. Plus, they can store energy produced by renewable resources like solar and wind.

The Increasing Demand for Lithium

In recent years, lithium demand has skyrocketed. Primary sources for lithium like pegmatites and volcanic clays are well understood, but finding other stores that are safe and economical to exploit would be helpful.

To that end, a team led by researchers from West Virginia University is exploring whether previous industrial operations (e.g., mine tailings or drill cuttings) could serve as a source of additional lithium without generating new waste materials.

Shailee Bhattacharya, a sedimentary geochemist and doctoral student working with Professor Shikha Sharma in the IsoBioGeM Lab at West Virginia University, will present the team’s findings next week during the European Geosciences Union (EGU) General Assembly 2024.

New Discoveries in Lithium Extraction

The study focuses on 15 middle-Devonian sedimentary rock samples from the Appalachian basin in the U.S. The team found plenty of lithium in pyrite minerals in shale, Bhattacharya said, “which is unheard of.”

Though the geologic literature lacked information on the intersection between lithium and sulfur-rich pyrite, the electrochemical and engineering world has already begun to look at how lithium-sulfur batteries could replace lithium-ion ones, Bhattacharya said. “I am trying to understand how lithium and pyrite could be associated with one another.”

As it turns out, organic-rich shale may show potential for higher lithium recovery as a result of that curious interaction between lithium and pyrite. However, whether the observations can be extrapolated beyond samples from the current study site is not known. “This is a well-specific study,” Bhattacharya cautioned. But, this work is promising because it hints at the possibility that certain shales could be a lithium source that doesn’t require new mines. “We can talk about sustainable energy without using a lot of energy resources,” she said.

Reference: “Potential lithium enrichment in pyrites from organic-rich shales” by Shailee Bhattacharya, Michael C. Dix, Shikha Sharma, Albert S. Wylie and Tom Wagner, 15 April 2024, EGU General Assembly 2024.
DOI: 10.5194/egusphere-egu24-369

18 Comments on "More Than Just Fool’s Gold: Scientists Uncover Hidden Treasure in Pyrite"

  1. Lithium production cost from Pyrite may exceed that of other source minerals. And CO² emission is higher than some other source minerals. Ultimately the Lithium production may boost Pyrite mining, which wouldn’t serve the purpose.

    • Natron Fiends | April 24, 2024 at 3:39 am | Reply

      I’ll just keep using my bonerieum. It’s really easy to apply. Ladies fo it for me all the time. Staying power is 10fold. Loadshare is explosive!

  2. Aliens are the answer for our energy needs 👽

  3. Asger Pedersen | April 17, 2024 at 4:13 pm | Reply

    Interesting information in litium batteries? From fullers gold!

    • I know it’s been in the past life or in the future life this information is being sent from a sole source of mind or ours telling people that the name of Fool’s Gold is not just Fool’s Gold for the last few years I’ve been studying geology and Alchemy questioning our nation’s geological surveyors things not being vain but no longer after a few days after me questioning some of the strangest things have happened I never heard of Antwerp

  4. Nuclear batteries are the answer.

  5. Fuller’s gold? 🤔 I’ve always260 heard it called fool’s gold referencing the fool that would mistake it for real gold. Learn sumpn new every day! 🌀🔋🌀🔋🌀🔋

  6. Oops! Where’d that 260 come from?

  7. Hassan Kaffoi | April 18, 2024 at 9:17 am | Reply

    What of chalcopyrite? Any Lithium in it?

  8. Leonard Hermary | April 18, 2024 at 12:04 pm | Reply

    I’ve truly looked that way myself. Now I know someone else has seen it through. Not s lot if idiots realize how it makes sense now that it is released for exploiting. And it’s fools gold not fullers.

  9. Tyrone Crossman | April 19, 2024 at 5:34 pm | Reply

    I am a business owner and investor all over the world I need to get all of my business products please okay.

  10. So fools gold soon not to be so much as fools gold 🤔🤑

  11. Godzilla the great | April 20, 2024 at 12:57 am | Reply

    Place comment here… I do not believe that I have read but 2 comments out of all of those that were written by anyone that has made it past 2nd grade grammar class.

  12. There could be several reasons why some people might make comments that others perceive as “dumb” in the comment section of an article:

    Lack of Understanding: Sometimes, people might not fully understand the content of the article and may make comments based on their limited understanding.
    Trolling: Some people intentionally post provocative or off-topic messages to derail the conversation or to get a reaction from others.
    Different Perspectives: What might seem “dumb” to one person might make sense to another. People have different perspectives and interpretations of the same information.
    Anonymity: The anonymity of the internet can sometimes make people more bold in their statements, leading them to say things they might not say in a face-to-face conversation.
    Emotional Response: Sometimes, people react emotionally to an article and post a comment without fully thinking it through.
    It’s important to make respectful and constructive conversations when interacting with others online.

  13. Thank you Frank. The art of writing concise ,informative opinions is something that many lack. If you want more in depth responses then another format is needed. Discovery are great blessings if explored and verified. I find them intresting . There will always be angry ignorant know it alls and they usually are the first to have an opinion. Your points are spot on and kind. Your responce is the most intelligent of the obes i saw.

    • I think your all a bunch of idiots and don’t try and psychoanalyze someone younble numb minded inadequate peabrain amoeba

  14. Pyrite has always had a beautiful look to it . I’m happy that it will help with slowing down on resource.And we should be thankful for the ones who are doing this hard and making things better for us all.Thank you

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