Lithium Mine 150 Miles From Tesla Gigafactory May Break Ground

JUL 4 2018 BY VANJA KLJAIC 34

Tesla could find itself neighboring one of the largest concentrated supplies of lithium carbonate in the world less than ten years from now

Breaking the 7,000 per week production levels for the Model 3, Model S and Model X might not be the only great news Tesla is about to receive. A plan is brewing to build a massive Lithium Carbohydrate mine, located just 150 miles (241 kilometers) north of Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.

If opened, this mine would headline the growth in the world’s Lithium Carbonate supply by more than 15% as early as 2022 – when compared to 2018 numbers – and continue to build up to an increase of over 20% by year 2026, massively enhancing the available quantity of this much-coveted mineral for the battery industry.

Tesla Gigafactory

The Tesla Gigafactory

Currently, estimates made by scientists in the early 2010s show that any given high-quality lithium-ion battery would be expected to require 4.4-6.6lbs (2-3 kilograms) of lithium carbonate per kWh of final capacity. In some cases, the absolute physical minimum to create 1 kWh of capacity may be closer to just 0.88lbs (0.4 kilograms). Currently, Tesla’s Gigafactory has set a 35 GWh production goal for 2018, meaning that this single factory will need between 60,000 and 85,000 tons of lithium carbonate annually, just to satisfy their own battery production needs alone.

Behind the study for this new Lithium Carbonate mine is a company known as Lithium Americas, who conservatively estimate the groundbreaking ceremony in their prospective Northern Nevada Li2COmine could be made as early as the end of 2020. They have also stated that they would aim to push the annual production rate to an impressive 30,000 metric tons of the basic Li-ion battery raw material in just 21 months after that. The company aims to double the output to 60,000 metric tons in just six years, which would then be set as the maximum annual lithium carbonate output for the mine in question.

Global Lithium-Ion raw material production is peaking to all-time highs

Right now, the entire global supply of lithium carbonate is expected to peak at ~250,000 tons in 2018, coming after an impressive year-on-year production growth of a 21.5% when compared to 2016. Additionally, just the demands set by Tesla Motors this year alone could easily consume at least 25-30% of the entire global production levels, necessitating a new source of raw materials and this mine could just be the answer to that problem.

Below you’ll find a rather good visualization of how Lithium Carbonate is mined to produce EV battery packs.

Source: Teslarati

Categories: Tesla

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34 Comments on "Lithium Mine 150 Miles From Tesla Gigafactory May Break Ground"

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William

I wonder if the Tesla Model Y will have its Panasonic batteries lithium sourced from this “gigafactory adjacent ” mine in 2021?

esto perpetua

Lets see how long it will take for the environmentalists to start protests and endless lawsuits to cancel the project or at least delay it 10-20 years like they always do. Or will this time destroying the earth will be OK in order to save the planet?

Nix

You didn’t watch the video, did you?

esto perpetua

I didn’t but, yea right, as if reason and reality matter to these nuts.

Paul Smith

What earth is being destroyed? This mine does much more to save the earth.

menorman

This is Nevada, not California…

Pushmi-Pullyu

I suggest you learn something about how lithium is “mined”, or rather extracted, before commenting again on the subject.

Hint: It doesn’t actually involve digging or earth-moving at all.

TM

It looks like the water usage is really high, so you never know what the environmental impact study will reveal. But this location appears to be in the middle of a fairly barren area, so as long as the water supply isn’t negatively impacted, it seems like this is an ideal location. Now, refining the evaporated compounds is another story – I’d like to see a similar video as to how that is done.

Very nice in depth write up on lithium extraction:
http://www.mining.com/web/lithium-supply-demand-story/

Some patents on the purification process.
http://www.patentsencyclopedia.com/app/20130101484
https://patents.google.com/patent/US6048507

I haven’t been able to find a layman’s description of the process, which hopefully would make it easier to understand the complications and byproducts of the refinement process than the above listed patents.

Heisenberght 3.0

Thank you for the link to mining.com

Referring to the possible “technological breakthrough” in brine refinement which is currently explored by POSCO and Energi Corporation I guess they are referring to reverse osmosis. While being more complicated and prone to problems with membrane degradation or “clogging” of membranes than a simple evaporation process this might significantly enhance the purification process. Let’s hope for some development on the membranes front.

We will see which technology Lithium Americas will deploy. I guess they will stick to simple evaporation.

All in all it will depend on climate and energy cost as well as the possibillity to seperate by-products or impurities directly by using a system of membranes with appropiate membranes.

Really nice to see that there are even more things to keep in mind when it comes to falling battery prices…

MDEV

Let’s see how long it takes to Trumpism to declare EVs unconstitutional.

philip d

They must be conflicted though because EVs ARE capable of running on “beautiful clean coal”.

BroncoBet

So, they mine the Lithium carbonate then send it to China to have them use their coal power, refine it to a high quality Li2CO3? Then send it back across the ocean to Nevada,ot are they considering processing it in the US?

Heisenberght 3.0

One would guess that it might be the plan to use solar power which is quite abundant in Nevada to refine. At least to me that would make more sense…

jm

Great way to redeploy those rail assets currently used to haul coal. Um . . . . I meant “clean” coal.

MarkP

Tesla can plan solar operated mining. Solar rail. Solar refining. To shut the critics up.

Ron M

I’m confused I thought Lithium Carbonate was silvery in color and salt is white so what’s in the railcar. If there drilling holes in the earth and extracting lithium to put in ponds to let the sun evaporate the water in sounds a lot less harmful to the environment than strip mining or coal mining. Also with the amount of sun isolating the lithium electrolytically could be down using solar panels to provide the power. It’s interesting the little I know about it makes me thing the finding it is harder the extracting it. Disclaimer and I really don’t know much about it.

Leeper

Looks like coal to me.

menorman

Yes, I guess IEVs couldn’t find a rights-free image of a lithium mine (or anything else that evaporates in large ponds), so looks like they ran with coal.

Ambulator

Not all lithium is mined from evaporites. From the looks of the ore it’s coming from rocks (spodumene?).

I would worry about the miners eventually getting priced out of the market.

Pushmi-Pullyu

“Not all lithium is mined from evaporites.”

By far the vast majority is extracted that way. (Is that really “mining”?)

Do you have some reason for thinking this particular lithium extraction company won’t be using the usual process?

Ambulator

As was pointed out by others, the color of the ore is wrong. Evaporite ore looks like salt, spodumene ore looks like rocks.

Outside of South America, mining lithium from rocks is more common.

Ambulator

Ah, I found it. The primary minerals are hectorite and illite (no, I’ve never heard of either before). This is said to be unusual.

This is the old Kings Valley deposit, which I guess they renamed just to confuse people. It is very large.

David

The author seems to be flipping between US tons and metric tons. Why not pick one unit of measure and stick with it?

Pushmi-Pullyu

Interesting that the photo in the article shows railroad cars full of ore.

Is Tesla ever going to install the railroad spur line it talked about when it signed the original development deal with the State of Nevada? Without that spur line, it will be kinda hard to ship anything to or from Gigafactory 1 by rail! 😉

Pushmi-Pullyu

@staff:

“A plan is brewing to build a massive Lithium Carbohydrate mine…”

The correct term “lithium carbonate” was used several times in the article, including the main sub-heading under the title.

You might want to correct this typo.

#GrammarNazi

Mister G

DIG BABY DIG republicans should be elated LOL CONNECT THE DOTS ON CLEAN AIR WAKE UP FOLKS thanks co2.earth

Guy Bedau

Not to nitpik but its misleading to have the headline say “…to break ground soon” only to read in the second paragraph the groundbreaking is planned for 2 years off. Sounds too much like click bait hype, lets wait a year and see what the plans look like then…

Steven Loveday

There was no intention to be misleading. I adjusted the wording for clarity. Thank you for pointing it out.

Heisenberght 3.0

It’s great to see that there seems to be a possibility to source some raw material needed for battery production in close proximity of the Gigafactory. Let’s hope this turns into reality ASAP.

While 2020 might seem quite a while at first sight, it’s still a nice thing to know that there is yet another pathway for getting lower battery prices in about 2 years.

Nevada should push really hard to make it as easy as possible for Lithium Americas to build that mine.

I know too few about Lithium mining (and am not able to watch any videos due to bandwith limitation… dammit it’s 2018…) but I guess there is quite some potential to automate much of that process. Given that all of that happens in a quite unpopulated area autonomous transportation preferably rail would be an option. I can see the alien dreadnought reaching out to source it’s nutrients.

Heisenberght 3.0