World’s largest lithium deposit found in Nevada

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A world-beating deposit of lithium has been found in a volcanic crater along the Nevada–Oregon border, according to a new analysis. The deposit is estimated to contain 20 to 40 million tonnes of lithium metal, which is notably larger than the lithium deposits found beneath a Bolivian salt flat, previously considered the largest deposit in the world.

The lithium-rich claystone was formed when a lake in the crater was exposed to a hot, alkaline brine, rich in lithium and potassium. The brine transformed smectite clay, which is more common than illite, into illite, which is a mineral that contains more lithium.

The lithium-rich claystone is located in the Thacker Pass area of the McDermitt caldera. The company Lithium Americas Corporation plans to begin mining the deposit in 2026.

The large lithium deposit could help to meet the growing demand for lithium, which is used in electric vehicles and other battery technologies. The United States currently imports most of its lithium, so the discovery of this domestic source could help to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign imports.

Anouk Borst, a geologist at KU Leuven University and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, says the discovery is “a very, very significant deposit of lithium.” She adds that it “could change the dynamics of lithium globally, in terms of price, security of supply and geopolitics.”

Christopher Henry, emeritus professor of geology at the University of Nevada in Reno, agrees that the discovery is significant. He says that the United States has been searching for additional lithium deposits, and the discovery of this one could help to meet the growing demand for the metal.

The sources for this piece include an article in ChemistryWorld.

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