Traditionally, conventional extraction methods have used large surfaces of the salt flats, producing a strong impact on communities and the environment, affecting the fragile ecosystem of arid areas in their flora, fauna and the communities that surround them. Traditional sources where lithium is extracted, are hard rock deposits, such as spodumene and the brine, often located under the riverbeds of dry lakes, which are underground reservoirs with high concentrations of salt, which include lithium, potassium and sodium. Although the hard rock mines are known for producing higher purity lithium, the associated processing costs is substantially higher than those for extracting lithium form the brine, which increases the price.
As a way of solving this situation, in 1992 Dr. John Burba created and patented the technology known as “Selective Absorption”, which was implemented between 1994 and 1998 in the north of Argentina and it has been used successfully for over 20 years. The technology used by Sorcia, is characteristic because it uses selective absorption to recover the lithium chloride from the high salinity brine. The resulting residual brine, with all its chemical components, such as magnesium, calcium, among others, is reinjected into the salt flat, and does not produce any kind of rejection on the surface of the salt flat, nor does it pollute the brine in any way whatsoever as it is reinjected with the same chemical composition that the brine had at the moment of the extraction process. This maintains the hydrological equilibrium of the salt flat, preventing many of the problems associated with solar evaporation, among them the reduction of aquifers, which affects the flora and fauna of the salt flats. Unlike other extraction methods, the technology of Sorcia does not use the fresh water that can be found in the area surrounding the salt flats, but instead uses the industrial water that is previously transported to the processing location at the salt flat.