With volatile pricing and limited domestic supply, access to high-grade lithium keeps EV makers up at night. In a critical elements’ version of musical chairs, U.S. automakers are scrambling to align with lithium miners before the “music” stops.
Ford Motors was first to grab a chair with its pioneering lithium offtake agreement with Ioneer Ltd. in July 2022, with Ioneer to supply lithium carbonate from its Rhyolite Ridge lithium claystone project in Nevada.
The tempo of the music has further intensified with Lithium America’s “nuptials” to GM following the recent announcement of a $650 million investment to fund the company’s fully permitted claystone lithium deposit at Thacker Pass in Nevada.
While the American EV industry currently imports virtually all of its lithium, the passage of the historic Inflation Reduction Act is expected to address this shortcoming by boosting lithium mining in the U.S.
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Amid the national transition to more renewable sources of energy, Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo’s economic development office has released an updated five-year strategic plan focused on expanding the state’s electric vehicle production, technological innovation and new infrastructure. Gov. Lombardo’s plan includes making Nevada the “lithium capital of North America.”
Boasting rich, high quality lithium claystone reserves, Nevada is poised to become the lithium capital of North America. Our company, American Lithium Corp, which is already on the radar of EV makers, is developing the TLC lithium claystone project in Nevada. TLC is one of the largest deposits in the state and one of the most advanced in the country with 8.83 million metric tons of lithium carbonate equivalent in the measured and indicated resources category, plus 1.86 million metric tons of LCE in the inferred resources category.
Additionally, a recent Preliminary Economic Assessment exhibits strong economics, with a long mine life and the opportunity to provide a meaningful contribution to the country’s domestic lithium output. An initial blueprint for the mine, by way of a pre-feasibility study, is already underway. It is also important to note that no endangered animal species or vegetation are impacted by our sustainable mining approach. We also sit well above the water table and have secured our own private water supplies and intend to recycle and re-use our water supplies whenever possible.
With claystone exploration representing an entirely new means of extracting lithium from vast untapped claystone-hosted supplies in the U.S., the Lithium Americas and Ioneer deals — as well as the State of Nevada and the U.S. Department of Energy’s financial commitment — clearly demonstrate the viability of lithium-bearing clays as a lithium source.
The United States holds about 8 million metric tons of lithium in reserve, ranking it among the top five countries in the world, reports the USGS. Yet only a fraction of the world’s supply is produced at one solitary lithium brine mine in Nevada called Silver Peak, run by Albemarle Corp.
A significant mining industry report from the International Energy Agency signaled that 50 new lithium mines need to come online before the end of the decade. As such, there is an urgency to secure long-term supplies from geopolitically safe countries, such as the United States. The war in Ukraine is a stark reminder of what happens when the supply of energy and other critical commodities is “in the hands” of unstable or unfriendly regimes.
Accordingly, the U.S. has a heightened need to source as much sustainable, “home-made” lithium and other critical minerals as quickly as possible, particularly given the fact that lithium mining in the U.S. is estimated to account for less than 1% of the lithium mined annually across the world.
Nevada’s lithium mining boom, which will play a significant role in bringing new mines online, will play a starring role in the harkening in of America’s shift to a secure, sustainable new energy paradigm.