Anson Resources, an Australian minerals firm, recently announced that the Colorado River in the southeastern region of Utah in the United States has the potential to become one of the largest lithium deposits in North America. If properly tapped, the Colorado River deposit may yield up to 13,000 tons of lithium ore during the initial phase of operations. However, environmental and tribal groups in the area have been vocal regarding the development’s potential impact on the environment and the people of the area.
A Quick Backstory
Since 2017, Anson Resources has been keeping its eye on Utah after it reviewed environmental reports dating back to the 1960s which stated that lithium could be extracted from the brine pooling in the Paradox Formation, a basin within the Colorado Plateau that is considered a remnant of the ancient seas that flowed over the area in the prehistoric eras.
If given permission, the Australian firm plans to drill wells that could be as deep as 9,000 feet, using sun resin, a material that attaches itself to any lithium particles in the brine. The bonded particles will then be rinsed using fresh water from the Colorado River. Such a process would yield enough lithium to power up to 1.6 million new EVs and substantially boost the US domestic supply of critical minerals.
As a result, several government agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the National Park Service have sent the company letters voicing their concern regarding its water rights.
Together with several environmental groups protesting against the development, these agencies advised Anson officials that new appropriations within the area have been limited to roughly around the amount of water consumed by a single-family household or that used in the irrigation of one acre of agricultural land.
Anson Resources, as of press time, has yet to submit an evaluation on how much water it plans to use in its operations.