Albemarle Corp has confirmed it will expand capacity at its lithium production facility in Silver Peak, Nevada, USA, and begin a program to evaluate clays and other available Nevada resources for commercial production of lithium.
Beginning in 2021, the company plans to invest $30-$50 million to double the current production at the Nevada site by 2025, making full use of its brine water rights. Additionally, the company plans to commence exploration of clay and evaluate technology that could accelerate the viability of lithium production from clay resources in the region this year.
The company explained: “As global demand for electric vehicles grows, North America automotive manufacturers are seeking to regionalise their supply chain for greater security and sustainability. Albemarle’s investment in Silver Peak, which produces lithium from brine extracted from the Clayton Valley basin, will support this increased demand for domestic supply of lithium.”
Eric Norris, Albemarle President, Lithium, said: “As a leader in the lithium industry, our priority is to optimise our world-class resources and production. This includes Silver Peak, a site uniquely positioned as the only lithium-producing resource in the United States.
“This investment in domestic capacity shows that we are committed to looking at the many ways in which Silver Peak can provide domestic support for the growing electric vehicle market.”
In addition to examining clay resources, Albemarle is seeking ways to optimise lithium extraction from its brine resources, including those in the Clayton Valley. Through a US Department of Energy-sponsored research project with Argonne National Laboratory, the company is investigating a process to streamline production of lithium hydroxide, which is principally used in electric vehicle batteries, from brine resources.
Albemarle’s domestic resources also include the historic 324 ha Kings Mountain, North Carolina, lithium site, which, it says, is one of the richest spodumene ore deposits in the world and home to the company’s global lithium technical centre and piloting operations, as well as lithium-containing brines in Arkansas.