20-40 Million “Goldmine” Of Lithium Found In The U.S. And Could Completely Change The EV Battery Game
by Trisha Leigh
There’s always a race to have access to what powers the next generation of electronics, and right now, lithium is where its at.
Thanks to a recent find on the Nevada-Oregon border, the United States may be cashing in for decades to come.
This new study estimates that the McDermitt Caldera, a volcanic crater between Nevada and Oregon, might be home to 20-40 million metric tons of the substance.
Right now the largest known deposit, located in Bolivia’s salt flats, is about 23 million tons.
Geologist Anouk Borst, who was not involved in the study, is cautiously optimistic.
“If you believe their back-of-the-envelope estimation, this is a very, very significant deposit of lithium. It could change the dynamics of lithium globally, in terms of price, security of supply and geopolitics.”
While a majority of lithium deposits are located in brine, this one, in an area called Thacker Pass, would be found in clay.
The McDermitt caldera formed after a huge eruption around 16.4 million years ago. A lake eventually formed, leaving a layer of sediment over 600-feet deep – sediment called smectite that is spliced with lithium.
And that, the scientists say, was only the beginning.
More and more lithium is thought to have landed in the same spot after additional volcanic activity heated up the smectite and infused it with more lithium.
This resulted, the researchers believe, in a clay called illite that is uniquely lithium rich.
“They seem to have hit the sweet spot where the clays are preserved close to the surface, so they won’t have to extract as much rock, yet it hasn’t been weathered away yet.”
Illite would be easier to separate than some clays, and the fact that it’s concentrated in one spot would also make mining easier.
This is good news if you’re concerned about environmental factors like contaminated groundwater and the need for fossil fuels as far as extraction.