A mine that could become the second largest lithium mine in the U.S. received endorsement from the Biden administration this week.
The Department of Energy will provide mining company Ioneer with a conditional loan of up to $700 million to develop the Rio Lightridge Lithium Boron Project in Esmeralda County, Nevada, according to an announcement reported by Bloomberg.
Once operational, the plant is expected to produce enough lithium to power approximately 370,000 electric vehicles annually.
Ioneer already has supply deals with automakers such as Ford and Toyota, but lithium production is likely to start in 2026.
The Biden administration provided funding through the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Automobile Manufacturing Loan Program.
In order to receive funding, Ioneer must obtain all necessary permits from relevant state and federal agencies.
The Center for Biodiversity opposes the project, citing it as a threat to the region’s endangered wildflower, the team buckwheat.
The U.S. Department of the Interior has yet to approve it, for the same reason. The Department of Energy announced that Ioneer has modified plans for the site to avoid direct impact on the nuclear plant.
However, it should be noted that extraction of lithium requires a lot of water.
But the mineral is essential to many of the technologies needed for the world to transition to an emissions-free future. Furthermore, lithium supply is expected to fall below global demand in 2030.
That shortfall makes it difficult to meet the Biden administration’s goal of having half the cars sold in the United States electric by the end of the decade.
Leave a Reply