Las Vegas Tribune

Nevada lithium extraction and battery manufacturing facilities get $107M federal boost

Nevada lithium extraction and battery
manufacturing facilities get $107M
federal boost

By Jeniffer Solis
Nevada Current

New battery manufacturing facilities are coming to Nevada and will receive more than $100 million dollars of federal
funding, a move meant to fulfill the Biden Administration’s commitment to ensure that half of all new vehicle sales by 2030
are electric and to transition to a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.
Two Nevada companies specializing in mineral processing and extraction were awarded the funds as part of $2.8
billion in grants distributed by the U.S. Department of Energy. A total of 20 manufacturing and processing companies were
funded across 12 states.
One company, the American Battery Technology Company, plans to use the funding to construct a large-scale facility
in Tonopah that would demonstrate a novel process for manufacturing battery grade lithium from unconventional
landscapes. The company said the facility will show that their technique has a “low-cost and low-environmental impact
process for manufacturing lithium products.”
The second company that will receive funding is a project in Fernley by Lilac Solutions, which plans to demonstrate a
new extraction technique that could make it more commercially viable to pull lithium from domestic underground deposits
of brine water and ore.
Most domestic brine sites contain lithium at concentrations too low, and impurities at concentrations too high, to make
extraction commercially viable. Lilac claims their project will “demonstrate economical and environmentally friendly lithium
extraction from domestic lithium.”
The two projects would “support 300 new, good-paying jobs in Nevada and further boost the area’s growing economy,”
according to Nevada Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s office.
“Nevada’s clean-energy economy is booming, and I made sure the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included funding to
create even more good-paying jobs in this industry,” said Cortez Masto, who wrote letters of support for both companies.
“Nevada is leading the way in domestic battery manufacturing and recycling, and we’re perfectly positioned to turn these
investments into lasting economic growth, and expand our global competitiveness.”
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced the grants along with his American Battery Materials Initiative, an
effort meant to mobilize the U.S. government to secure a domestic supply of critical minerals for batteries used in electric
vehicles and electrification.
During a video presentation of the announcement, Biden said he believes these actions will improve the nation’s
energy independence, strengthen national security, and support “good-paying jobs” across the battery supply chain.
Electric vehicle sales have tripled since Biden took office, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Before Biden
took office, about 2 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. were electric. Today, more than 8 percent of vehicles sold in the
country are electric. The department also said investments in battery manufacturing have more than doubled compared to
2021 and are more than six times higher than in 2020.
The Biden administration said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS & Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction
Act, combined, will invest more than $135 billion to increase critical minerals sourcing and processing and battery
manufacturing.
“Producing advanced batteries and components here at home will accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels to

meet the strong demand for electric vehicles, creating more good-paying jobs across the country,” said U.S. Secretary of
Energy Jennifer Granholm in the presentation.
Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, including Cortez Masto, have stressed that more
domestic production of lithium, nickel, cobalt and rare earth minerals would be needed to increase use of electric vehicles.
Biden’s goal of making half of all U.S. vehicles electric by 2030, is unlikely if the nation fails to produce the minerals
needed for those vehicles’ batteries, say senators of both parties.
The U.S. only produces about 9 percent of the world’s battery cells, David Howell, a director with the U.S. Energy
Department’s Vehicle Technologies Office, told a Senate panel in April. A June 2021 White House report said domestic
battery manufacturing is “dependent on foreign sources for battery materials and precursors.”
Nevada is home to the only active lithium production facility in North America and has notable lithium deposits, with
several proposed projects currently under review by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
But those projects have attracted numerous lawsuits in Nevada from tribes fighting to protect sacred sites and
conservationists protecting rare species, highlighting the tension between developers, conservation groups, and rural
communities.
In February, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a rule to protect nearly a thousand acres of critical habitat for
a rare Nevada flower under threat by a proposed lithium mine on its only known habitat, complicating the mine’s future
development.
Another proposed lithium mine near the Oregon-Nevada border in an area known as Thacker Pass has faced several
lawsuits to halt construction and several Nevada-based tribes say the mine would desecrate a Paiute massacre site in the
area.
Conservationists have also strongly opposed the Thacker Pass lithium mine, which they believe could lead to failures
that could unleash toxic slurry into the state’s watershed. Other conservation groups say the planned lithium mine would
decimate a tiny rare Nevada springsnail whose only known habitat consists of 13 small isolated springs around Thacker
Pass in Humboldt County.

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