4 mins read 18 Aug 2022

Fleet Space helps discover critical lithium deposits in the NT

Fleet Space Technologies has successfully trialled a new technology to find critical lithium deposits in a non-invasive manner, by using sensors that transmit data to satellites.

Core Lithium’s Finniss Lithium Project in the NT. Credit: Core Lithium

Last week, Fleet Space successfully completed a trial using its Exosphere communications system to faster and non-invasively find critical lithium deposits.

Introduced in Q1 2022, Exosphere is Fleet’s new system that discovers natural resources in the ground up to 100 times faster than traditional methods. The system uses wireless sensors called Geodes which can be placed into the ground by hand, and map seismic waves from the Earth’s subsurface by recording ambient noise via a process called Ambient Noise Tomography (ANT). The Geodes then process this data, reduce its size, and transmit it to Fleet’s Alpha constellation of low-powered small satellites. The satellites then transmit the data to ground stations for the client.

Fleet’s new product promises to address some important global issues.  “We created ExoSphere to provide a sustainable, faster and more economically viable alternative to current exploration practices. This work is vital to enabling the dramatic increase in critical mineral discoveries required to support the global transition to clean-air mobility and more sustainable industrial practices,” says Matt Pearson, Co-Founder of Fleet Space Technologies.

The Geodes, part of Fleet’s Exosphere system. Credit: Fleet Space

Collaborating with Core Lithium

Since the inception of Exosphere, the private space company has been working with some of the world’s leading exploration companies. Most recently, the system has been used to detect lithium in the Northern Territory (NT).

The work was commissioned by Australia’s newest lithium miner, Core Lithium, at its Finniss Lithium Project. Located just south of Darwin Port in Australia's Northern Territory, the Finniss Project covers over 500 square kilometres and lies within one of the most prospective areas for lithium in the NT: the Bynoe Pegmatite Field. The purpose of the project is to provide the globe with high-grade, high-quality lithium suitable for lithium batteries which are used to power electric vehicles and renewable energy storage.

The Bynoe Pegmatite Field, where Fleet placed its Geodes and conducted the survey. Credit: Core Lithium

Unearthing new lithium deposits

Using Exosphere, Fleet demonstrated a way for the mining company to locate lithium-containing pegmatite bodies onsite. The results were verified by comparing it with pre-existing data which had been obtained by drilling over 500m into the ground. In a statement to the ASX, Core Lithium described the results of the trial as “an outstanding success”, noting an excellent correlation with the pre-existing data. In addition, a number of previously unknown targets have emerged from the Fleet trial.

“Our mission to discover the high grade lithium required to support the world’s rapid transition to electric vehicles (EVs) has been enhanced by the results generated through ExoSphere… We are excited by the prospect of doing further work with Exosphere,” says Andy Bennett, Exploration Manager of Core Lithium.

Fleet has a track record of working with mining companies, which represent an important industry for Australia. “We are proud to work with the most progressive explorers in the world realising the transformative potential of this technology,” says Matt Pearson.

3D visualisation of Exosphere's survey results - processed and delivered to the client in a matter of days. Credit: Fleet Space.

The economic and environmental significance of lithium

The trial is highly promising for many reasons. The mining industry is another step closer to finding minerals in the ground using a method that is less environmentally destructive and much quicker than normal methods. Usually, ANT takes 6-12 months to return a conclusive result. However, using Exosphere, these 3D visualisations of the Earth’s subsurface are accessible to view and export anywhere on Earth in real-time in only four days. 

Fleet’s innovative applications of its Internet of Things (IoT) technology have tapped into a highly profitable market. ExoSphere can support the discovery of additional energy transition minerals in excess of $13 trillion, a figure stated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as required to meet global net zero targets to enable the transition of vehicles to clean-air powertrains.

Fleet co-founders Matt Pearson and Flavia Tata Nadini stand beside a satellite from their new Alpha constellation, which is set to revolutionise how industry uses the Internet of Things. Credit: Fleet Space

“ExoSphere is supporting the world’s transition to more sustainable practices by speeding up vital mineral discoveries more than one hundred-fold. We are proud to enable this critical step in mining to provide better access to the resources we need to make a better future for humanity,” says Pearson.

With Fleet’s help, the mining company has the potential to boost Australia’s lithium market and meet the urgent global demand for sustainable electric technologies, such as electric vehicles. For Fleet itself, this application of cutting-edge communications technology could attract the attention of mining companies not only in Australia, but also worldwide.