While China has been aggressively buying lithium reserves throughout the world in a bid to become the dominant player in the global lithium mining sector, industry insiders think it’s time for the Asian nation to watch its back. This is thanks to recent news that scientists have discovered a lithium motherlode in the depths of California’s largest lake.
Estimated to be worth over $540 billion, the lithium reserves at the bottom of California’s Salton Sea could yield up to 18 million tons of processed battery-grade lithium. This would drive the United States to the forefront of the global lithium rush and ensure that it could be self-sufficient for decades when it comes to vital minerals.
The resource discovered by scientists is so massive that it has prompted California governor Gavin Newsom to compare the site to the petroleum wells of Saudi Arabia: massive reservoirs that could make a serious economic difference for both the United States and the rest of the world.
Indeed, developing the Salton Sea as a prime lithium extraction site will vastly reduce the country’s dependence on imports from the likes of China and Saudi Arabia when it comes to the battery-production and automotive industries. With lithium currently worth around $29,000 a ton, the site could also deliver a much-needed boost to the national economy.
Massive Funding Pays Off
Since the discovery and eventual development of potential lithium mines is of great importance to the US’ push towards the use of renewable energy sources, the Department of Energy has been funding several lithium exploration initiatives throughout the country, including the Salton Sea study.
A grant worth $14.9 million was awarded to Berkshire Hathaway Energy, one of corporate mogul Warren Buffett’s companies, to study the Salton Sea area and assess its viability for lithium mining. Currently, Berkshire Hathaway operates ten of the geothermal power plants in use within the area.