Nevada's Silver Peak Lithium Mine Prepares To Ramp Up Production - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Nevada's Silver Peak Lithium Mine Prepares To Ramp Up Production

Posted: Updated:

Anyone who uses a smart phone, tablet, cordless power tool, or even an electric car knows the device would not operate without its battery.  The popularity of these gadgets is a big reason for growth in the lithium industry.

"The growth of lithium looks great," David Klanecky, Vice President of the Albemarle Corporation's Lithium Division said. "Batteries are going to be the major driver for us."

The only active lithium mine in North America is in Silver Peak, Nevada.  The tiny Esmerelda County town is about 30 miles west of Goldfield.  Albemarle extracts the area's lithium through the groundwater.

"We know how to extract lithium out of the brine here, and derivatize it into a highly valuable specialty material," Klanecky said.

The mine currently produces 3,500 metric tons of lithium per year, with the capability to produce 6,000 metric tons.  The mine intends to increase its production as the demand increases.

"It is a reflection of Nevada's commitment to emerging technologies, to advance manufacturing and renewable energy production and this is the mine that produces the raw materials."

The salty groundwater is pumped to the surface in the Clayton Valley, and captured in a series of ponds that cover 4,100 acres.  As the water evaporates, some of the salts and minerals settle on the ground and the lithium concentration gets higher.  After the water goes through the series of pools and the solution is at the right level, it is pumped to the processing plant.

"It's just a very natural process and we do that here, we do it in Chile and it's currently the state-of-the-art technology for lithium extraction from a brine resource," Karen Narwold, Chief Administrative Officer for Albemarle Corporation said.

The mine uses 20,000 acre-feet of water each year.  That is about the same as the annual average recharge in the aquifers.  As the water soaks into the ground, it also leaches more lithium from the soil that winds up in the groundwater.

"Ultimately, we will see the lithium concentrations dilute, over time, just because we are pulling it out but the water does recharge annually," Narwold said.

It takes 18-24 months from the time the water is pumped to the surface, until the lithium carbonate is produced.

"We have to keep the water flowing," John Mayes, Silver Peak Mine Plant Manager said. "Otherwise, we have a gap and then the plant would have to shut down. So, it's really a continuous process."

The lithium carbonate is shipped from the Silver Peak Mine to Kings Mountain, NC, where it is converted to lithium hydroxide.  From there, it is sold to Asian companies, who use it to produce cathodes, which are used to manufacture batteries and battery packs.

"Asia's got a 20-year head-start on a lot of countries right now because they've been really the founder of where lithium started," Klanecky said. "Especially, Japan and China and Korea."

While Tesla and Panasonic are making batteries and battery packs at the Gigafactory in Storey County, the lithium still has to go to Asia for cathode production, first.  The growth in Nevada tech companies is still good for the mining industry, which accounts for 28,927 jobs in the the Silver State, with an average annual salary of $96,998.  The Silver Peak Mine employs 80 full-time workers, and about 20 more contractors.

"This little town here in Silver Peak only has about 250 people living in it at one time, so we're pretty important," Mayes said.

Lithium is the choice for energy storage, and Klanecky expects that to continue for at least the next two decades as industry ion chemistry improves.  The largest growth is expected to come in the transportation and clean energy sectors.

  • NewsMore>>

  • Highway 267 Reopens after Multiple-Vehicle Crash in Truckee

    Highway 267 Reopens after Multiple-Vehicle Crash in Truckee

    Sunday, April 22 2018 11:30 PM EDT2018-04-23 03:30:18 GMT

    The Truckee Police Department says Highway 267 has reopened after a crash involving multiple vehicles closed the road for several hours Sunday.

    More >>

    The Truckee Police Department says Highway 267 has reopened after a crash involving multiple vehicles closed the road for several hours Sunday.

    More >>
  • Aces Snap Losing Streak

    Aces Snap Losing Streak

    Sunday, April 22 2018 9:40 PM EDT2018-04-23 01:40:25 GMT

    Troy Scribner and the Aces were victorious Sunday against the Fresno Grizzlies by a score of 9-4. Scribner went 5.1 innings and allowed three runs on five hits to pick up his first win of the season. Offensively, Reno tallied 16 hits, their most in 2018 and hit two home runs. Jack Reinheimer (3-for-3, 2 BB) and Marcus Littlewood (3-for-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI) finished with three hits to lead the charge. 

    More >>

    Troy Scribner and the Aces were victorious Sunday against the Fresno Grizzlies by a score of 9-4. Scribner went 5.1 innings and allowed three runs on five hits to pick up his first win of the season. Offensively, Reno tallied 16 hits, their most in 2018 and hit two home runs. Jack Reinheimer (3-for-3, 2 BB) and Marcus Littlewood (3-for-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI) finished with three hits to lead the charge. 

    More >>
  • Nevada Softball Gets Swept by Boise State

    Nevada Softball Gets Swept by Boise State

    Sunday, April 22 2018 9:37 PM EDT2018-04-23 01:37:35 GMT

    The Nevada softball team wrapped up its weekend series with Boise State on Sunday with an 8-4 loss to the Broncos as the Wolf Pack now sits at 19-21 on the season and 8-9 in Mountain West play. This marks the first time since the opening weekend of conference games that Nevada has lost a conference series. 

    More >>

    The Nevada softball team wrapped up its weekend series with Boise State on Sunday with an 8-4 loss to the Broncos as the Wolf Pack now sits at 19-21 on the season and 8-9 in Mountain West play. This marks the first time since the opening weekend of conference games that Nevada has lost a conference series. 

    More >>
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Sarkes Tarzian, Inc. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.