The key ingredient to millions of EVs is buried under a former volcano — but there’s still a lot we don’t know – by Justine Calma (The Verge – August 30, 2023)

The company constructing a controversial new lithium mine to supply GM’s electric vehicles knows where it wants to drill next based on new research it published today.

Lithium Americas broke ground on its mine at Thacker Pass in Nevada after facing fierce opposition from Native American tribes, environmental advocates, and local ranchers. But that mine is just one slice of the McDermitt Caldera, the remnants of a supervolcano that’s now believed to hold one of the biggest lithium deposits in the world.

There’s lithium spread across the caldera’s 600 square miles — split between Nevada and Oregon. Thacker Pass is near the southern rim, where especially high-grade materials have been found. What Lithium Americas is after is a clay mineral called illite, which has double the concentration of lithium as the smectite that’s more commonly found throughout the caldera.

How that illite got there is a big mystery that, if solved, could help figure out where the world’s best lithium reserves might be hidden. Lithium Americas says it has the answer, which it published in a paper in the journal Science Advances today.

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