Geologists have uncovered what they believe could be the world’s largest lithium deposit inside an ancient supervolcano along the Nevada-Oregon border in the US.
Clay containing up to 40 million metric tons of the precious metal was identified throughout the 28-mile-long McDermitt Caldera – nearly double what has been found in Bolivia’s salt flats that have long held the record for the most lithium deposits.
While the amount of lithium is based on estimates – no drilling has taken place – scientists have found high concentrations of lithium in the caldera since the 1970s.
As of 2022, the average battery-grade lithium carbonate price was $37,000 per metric ton, meaning the volcano is potentially sitting on $1.48 trillion worth of the precious metal.
Canada-based Lithium Americas Corporation plans to begin mining as early as 2026, mine the region for the next 40 years, and then backfill the pit. However, the plan has been criticized due to the environmental impact of mining and claims that the site is on sacred Native American land.
Lithium is a critical component for batteries that power everything from smartphones to electric vehicles and solar panels – and China has dominated the market for decades because 90 percent of the metal mined is refined in the nation