Nevada Could Be Lithium Hot Spot
Source: Reno Gazette Journal, Steve Timko (2/8/11)
"Western Lithium to produce from 10,000 to 15,000 tons annually."
Western Lithium USA Corp. (TSX:WLC; OTCQX:WLCDF) is banking on increased interest in green fuels, especially electric cars, for its plans to mine lithium-rich clay near the Oregon line in northern Humboldt County.
The company may employ 100 to 150 people to produce 10,000 tons to 15,000 tons of lithium carbonate annually, said Dennis Bryan, senior vice president of development for Western Lithium.
Current worldwide lithium carbonate production is about 120,000 tons a year, with half to two-thirds of it produced by two companies in Chile and Argentina, Bryan said.
But Western Lithium expects production to quadruple in the next 10 years as more electric vehicles roll on the world's highways.
Bryan thinks the site in Kings Valley will be the fifth largest lithium mine in the world. The company believes there are 11 million tons of lithium carbonate to be produced from the new Nevada site.
The only other lithium mine in the United States is already in Nevada.Western Lithium has a clay deposit at its Kings Valley project in Humboldt County.
Bryan said the company is working now to perfect a technique to remove the lithium from clay, which is an uncommon way to mine the metal. The plan is to dig up the clay, cook it and then use water to leach out lithium sulfate. The company will add soda ash to that product and change it to lithium carbonate, the common way raw lithium is sold, he said.
That huge deposit of lithium was discovered in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Chevron Resources. "It's going to be easily mined," Bryan said. "It's all very close to the surface."