Potentially the world's largest lithium deposit has been found in a US volcano

midian182

Posts: 9,738   +121
Staff member
What just happened? What is likely to be the world's largest deposit of lithium has been discovered in a volcano crater along the Nevada-Oregon border. It's estimated that the McDermitt Caldera holds between 20 million and 40 million metric tons, which would be larger than the current 21-million-ton record-holding deposit beneath the salt flats of Bolivia.

Located in the 28-mile-long and 22-mile-wide McDermitt Caldera, the discovery of the deposit will be a massive boost to the United States' lithium reserves, which have been estimated at just one million metric tons. Most of the world's major deposits are in countries outside of North America, such as Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, China and Australia. It could also encourage more US investment in electric cars and will alleviate fears over lithium shortages – it's thought that a million metric tons of lithium will be needed by 2024.

"It could change the dynamics of lithium globally, in terms of price, security of supply and geopolitics," Belgian geologist Anouk Borst told Chemistry World. "The US would have its own supply of lithium and industries would be less scared about supply shortages."

The size of the deposit still has to be confirmed, but Lithium Americas Corporation says it expects to start mining the supply in 2026.

Experts from Lithium Nevada, the University of Oregon, and New Zealand research institute GNS Science have said that when the supervolcano erupted around 16 million years ago, the magma that burst through the ground enriched the clay soil with lithium.

A type of clay, called illite, was found near the southern side of the caldera that is highly concentrated with lithium. It's likely the result of another resurgence of magma after the caldera's ancient lake had dried out, replacing lithium-smectite in lake sediment with an even richer lithium-illite claybed, writes Science Alert.

Not everyone is celebrating the discovery, especially the Native American tribes who say the land is sacred. There are also potential dangers to native wildlife, and researchers are worried that the project will cause groundwater levels to drop to dangerous levels. Even NASA has spoken out against mining in the area. The space agency has been using Nevada's Railroad Valley lakebed since 1993 to accurately gauge the time it takes for satellite signals to travel to Earth and back, allowing it to calibrate the satellites.

Permalink to story.

 
The big question is, can lithium be recovered and reused as a recyclable, or will we just squander it like all of the other minerals? Time to start thinking this out way up front while we still have the chance ....
 
While it's nice that we found it, we need to stop trying to use lithium for everything. Yeah, it's great in cars and smartphones, but in applications like grid energy storage it's wasteful. In applications where weight and size are not an object, things like sodium or zinc batteries are better. Just think of the side of a hotwater heater or a furnace that just sits in a place in someones home. If you want to make something that's as cheap as dirt you should make it from dirt. If we can make them cheap enough, things like a "house battery" could be looked at as an appliance and something that's just part of a home. Yeah, it might be the size of a refrigerator but are you going to care if it sits in the garage it's whole life?
 
The big question is, can lithium be recovered and reused as a recyclable
Yes, absolutely. However, as things currently stand, it's still cheaper to mine and process lithium than it is to recycle it -- lithium-ion batteries aren't easy to disassemble and turn into reusable materials (far more so than with lead-acid or alkaline batteries, for example), hence why so few of them are recycled. Given the rapid growth in EVs, though, the impetus for doing it will improve.
 
In a volcano, in america.

in one of if not the most dangerous places possible, in a country. that makes healthcare a hassle, a country ran off of greed.

whatever cosmic powers run this show called life really have a morbid sense of humor.
 
We can't drill our own oil because oil is bad.
But perfectly ok to mine minerals for batteries
IMO, most of the industry is aware of the issues in both cases.
As far as batteries go, I don't think it will be much longer before more environmentally friendly options are commercialized. The industry is well aware of the issues with lithium.
 
At least the lithium doesn't escape and go into the atmosphere to cook our planet and pollute our air. So probably the lesser of the evils.
No, it just creates tons of toxic runoff that gets pumped into our drinking water and oceans.

But hey, you didnt release CO2, so its fine, right? Right? We can plant trees to clean the water right?
Lithium doesn’t come from Africa, Cobalt does, and this is already phased out of modern EV battery chemistry…
Only if LiPo4 batteries are used, which is FAR from universal in EVs. Or grid batteries. Or home batteries.
 
Not to worry...I'm sure the enviro-nuts are already working to figure out a way to get Brandon to put that are off limits as well.
 
Can't mine it, it is bad for the planet. Besides, there is a better plan. Let China mine all lithium and then jack the price making EVs super expensive while our fighters for green earth will make gasoline super expensive.
I call this a win win for all.
 
Hasn't anyone worked out the ultimate plan the green people have is to go back to the stone age? Living in caves and underground. It's either that or extermination of mankind.
 
We can't drill our own oil because oil is bad.
But perfectly ok to mine minerals for batteries
This again. We are drilling a ton of oil:
https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/09/business/oil-production-biden-trump/index.html

Also, once again, oil is not bad.
Burning oil is bad.

Please don't make folks have to tell you again.

Not to worry...I'm sure the enviro-nuts are already working to figure out a way to get Brandon to put that are off limits as well.

You mean like Dark Brandon with oil?

https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/09/business/oil-production-biden-trump/index.html
 
Last edited:
This again. We are drilling a ton of oil:
https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/09/business/oil-production-biden-trump/index.html

Also, once again, oil is not bad.
Burning oil is bad.

Please don't make folks have to tell you again.



You mean like Dark Brandon with oil?

https://www.cnn.com/2023/08/09/business/oil-production-biden-trump/index.html
There's nothing like a wing-nut spouting authoritarianism and spreading BS, isn't there? But, we both know the wing-nuts like spouting BS just to hear themselves talk, don't we? 🤣

Ah, if only there were a way to educate the ignorant before they succumbed to Dunning-Kruger :)
 
Lithium doesn’t come from Africa, Cobalt does, and this is already phased out of modern EV battery chemistry…

And furthermore, it's rather simplistic to think that when we stop using African cobalt the people there will say "ah well, no more cobalt sales, better free all the slave children and send them off to school". The problem is slavery, not cobalt - or lithium. They'll swap them over to mining gold, or diamonds, or making shoes. I do admit I have no good solution to the problem.
 
Back