No, lithium isn’t going to become “the new oil,” regardless of what the pandering pundits of the popular press say (it’s a raw material, not a fuel, and it’s one of the most abundant elements on Earth). However, there’s no question that demand for the light white stuff is growing quickly, and that much of the current supply comes from outside the US.
Tesla is believed to import much of the lithium it uses from Australia and South America. There are strong economic and environmental reasons to develop more domestic sources.
Fortunately, just a couple hundred miles north of Gigafactory 1, near the Oregon/Nevada border, there’s an area that some are calling Lithium Valley, which could contain a huge and easily exploitable trove of lithium. (This isn’t mere serendipity — one of the reasons Tesla chose Nevada as the site of the Gigafactory was the proximity to potential sources of lithium and other minerals.) Continue Reading →