US lithium clay projects secure backing despite extraction hurdles – by Henry Lazenby (Northern Miner – June 20, 2024)

Global mining news

The United States’ great hope for domestic lithium supply could lie in the massive-scale, long-life sediment-hosted deposits in its southwestern region. And even with tricky metallurgy to overcome and higher price tags than brine or hard rock deposits, experts say that with federal backing, these operations could become the continent’s energy transition backbone.

Most of the country’s sediment-hosted lithium projects are in Nevada. Projects like Lithium Americas’ (TSX: LAC; NYSE: LAC) Thacker Pass, Ioneer’s (NASDAQ: IONR; ASX: INR) Rhyolite Ridge, and Century Lithium’s (TSXV: LCE) Clayton Valley have big potential that’s drawing strategic investment.

Lithium clay projects are particularly important for North America as a domestic source of the mineral, which is critical for the energy transition and the growing demand for electric vehicles (EVs), according to Allan Pedersen, principal analyst for lithium with Wood Mackenzie.

“The metallurgy of extracting lithium from clay (sediments) is more complex and less proven than from brine or hard rock sources,” Pedersen said in an interview. “Despite their complexity and high capex, these projects are crucial for ensuring a stable, secure supply of lithium, reducing dependency on foreign sources, and supporting the broader goals of national security and economic growth.”

For the rest of this article: