A groundbreaking discovery of a lithium deposit along the Nevada–Oregon border could significantly impact the global lithium market, according to new research. The deposit, estimated to contain 20 to 40 million tonnes of lithium, is located in a volcanic crater formed around 16 million years ago and is larger than any previously known deposit. The lithium is found in an unusual claystone composed of the mineral illite, which contains 1.3% to 2.4% lithium—almost double the amount found in other lithium-bearing minerals. This discovery could alter global lithium dynamics, affecting price, supply security, and geopolitics. The company behind the discovery, Lithium Americas Corporation, expects to begin mining in 2026, using a process that separates lithium-bearing grains from larger minerals and extracts lithium through leaching. If successful, this could provide the U.S. with its own significant supply of lithium, alleviating concerns over supply shortages.
Photo Credit: Roberto Sorin