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Lithium Mining – Nevada’s New Green

Western Lithium Reno

Yep, did that one on purpose…I love catchy double-meaning titles, don’t you?

Well, Nevada needs the money kind of green, as in taxes, revenue and jobs, and there’s likely room for there being some of the movement known as “green,” too. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find a way to establish another actual industry for Nevada? While at the same time supporting one of the existing ones?

Lithium has long been a source for battery production. In fact, the chances of you yourself using some lithium in a battery is almost assured. Have an iPod? A cell phone? A laptop?  Thinking larger, how about hybrid or electric vehicles that are becoming so popular and important?   That’s just the beginning.  There’s already some interest in making Nevada a lithium mining hub, which would beg for new, green sources of power gathering (such as solar), which then would naturally need a way to hold such power… batteries?  Gold and silver production are already one of Nevada’s great products and active industries, perhaps lithium mining would fit right in.

According to this article in the New York Times, some developers would like to bill Nevada as the next place to really consider for some lithium mining, all while using new techniques to extract lithium from the earth.   Western Lithium,  which has an office here in Reno, is already drumming up some business interest and capital for the project.  Named King’s Valley (at the extreme middle-north end of the state), years of lithium mining and production there could open Nevada up to an entirely new industry.   One hurdle, the capital to be raised is quite lofty ($250M), because this new process to extract the lithium, which as to do with heating clay and making the lithium water-leachable,  is quite expensive–hopefully not too expensive in the current economic climate.   More locally though, perhaps more importantly to those here, this project’s location will mean even more to Northern Nevada for jobs and other potential.

The other issue they’re going to face is  on Capitol Hill.  Like most new mining operations, there are miles of red tape, permits, and process one must go through in order to get something like this going.   There’s a lot of people out there that don’t like mining or view it as solely destructive, that could hinder an already arduous task to get to production with all the politics, people, ideals, and other speed bumps.   Hopefully they find a few friends over there in Washington D.C.

If the hurdles can be cleared, we (as Nevada AND the USA) could be on the forefront of production, competing with China, Chile and Argentina–and doing something our country isn’t doing a lot of by comparison to other countries:  making something.  90% of the world’s lithium is supplied from outside North America, too.   Lithium demand and prices are both high, and this could be a gold rush without the gold.  Especially if those at Western Lithium and us Nevadans play our cards right.  I think the biggest selling point to naysayers and politically is the less environmentally-invasive mining techniques–this could keep the political, possibly pointless, obstructions to a minimum.   The Kings Valley project holds the fifth largest known lithium deposit in the world… no small potatoes.   This means good things for “green,”  job seekers, and tax revenue for the state.

For Nevada, this, again, could provide a HUGE opportunity.  California has Silicon Valley, Detroit has Motor City, Texas has oil– I can easily see Nevada being Battery Alley.   Or something to that degree.  They just need to get started with mining at Kings Valley in 2014, which isn’t far away.

A hopeful possibility, I wish the King’s Valley project, Western Lithium and all who are working towards it the best of luck:  you have my support!

(information courtesy Western Lithium and the New York Times – image courtesy WLC)