The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that it will loan $700 million to mining company Ioneer to develop lithium reserves found in Nevada.
As the U.S. “battery belt” continues to develop, the demand for raw lithium to produce batteries has rapidly increased. Nowhere has this been better seen than in the price of raw lithium, which has skyrocketed over the past few months and has, in turn, contributed to the elevated prices of electric vehicles. Now, a new source of lithium, found within the state of Nevada, will be developed by the mining company Ioneer, with help from a $700 million loan from the Department of Energy.
The lithium project, called the Rhyolite Ridge project, is located in Esmeralda County, Nevada, situated between Reno and Las Vegas. According to Ioneer, it is “the largest known lithium and boron deposit in North America. Simply put, the resources on-site have the potential to immediately make a positive environmental and economic impact locally, nationally, and globally.” The mine is expected to produce enough lithium for 370,000 EVs annually after reaching full extraction and production. Ioneer has not specified when construction or production will begin, as the timeframe highly depends on the final permitting process.
As noted in reporting by Reuters, this loan would be the first in DOE history that would be directed at the development of lithium production in the United States. Still, it is far from the only investment DOE is making into making electric vehicles more affordable overall. Earlier this week, the DOE announced a $42 million package directed specifically at making electric vehicles more affordable over the coming years.
The $42 million package includes funding for 12 projects to improve EV technology and make vehicles more affordable for average Americans. These projects are directed at everything from improving battery energy density, improving cold weather performance, reducing the cost of production, and much more.
“Electric vehicle sales in America have tripled since the start of this Administration, and by addressing battery efficiency, resiliency, and affordability, the projects announced today will make EVs attractive to even more drivers,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This is a win-win for our efforts to fight climate change and power America’s clean transportation future with technologies produced by researchers and scientists right here at home.”
As electric vehicles continue to grow in popularity, not only in the United States but globally, more lithium projects are expected and necessary to feed the market. Hopefully, through diligent work from the mining companies, the DOE, and the EPA, these projects can feed that demand and can do so safely and efficiently.
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