Largest lithium deposit in the world. Could a supervolcano spark an electricity revolution?

Super volcano caldera McDermidt May be the richest source of lithium in the world. Lithium is important for the production of batteries, for example, used in electric cars. However, plans to mine the new deposit are raising concerns among indigenous tribes and conservationists who want to protect the rare species that inhabit the region.

Lithium is one today The most valuable things in the world. The growing demand for lithium-ion batteries, driven largely by electric cars, is expected to grow by approximately 2040. Humanity requires about one million tons of this raw material per year.

Many scientists, conservationists, ranchers and First Nations people are concerned about the US government’s recent decision to approve the Thacker Pass lithium mine in McDermidt Caldera. Holy land Many are indigenous and inhabit valuable wildlife habitats.

Currently Australia is the largest producer of lithium, which extracts 52 percent of the world production of raw materials. However, global lithium mining is still far from expected demand. Apart from Australia, the three largest producers, which include Chile and China, extract a total of only 95,000. tons of metal. Worldwide – over 100,000.

That’s why there is a big A global search for new sources of raw materials. Previous estimates put the Earth at around 88 million tons of lithium, but extracting only a quarter of these resources is economically feasible. Launching a lithium mine will take at least several years.

The discovery of a new, very rich deposit in the United States was a remarkable advance.

According to experts from Lithium Nevada, the University of Oregon and the New Zealand research institute GNS Science, it erupted about 16 million years ago. The ancient supervolcano, today known as the McDermit Caldera, hot magma seeped through fissures and fissures in the Earth and enriched the clay soil with lithium. According to a recent study, the southern edge of the caldera, including the Thacker Pass High concentrations of lithium in the world.

“If early estimates are to be believed, this is a very significant lithium deposit,” geologist Anouk Borst of KU Leuven told Science Direct. “This could change the global dynamics of lithium in terms of lithium price, security of supply. And geopolitics.”

Currently, the US is largely dependent on China for lithium production. If all goes as planned, the Thacker Pass lithium mine will be the second largest mine of its type in the United States.

But environmentalists are alarmed A major downside could be the global rush to extract more lithium Impact on nature and people. Lithium production operations can destroy ecosystems, deplete groundwater and produce large amounts of waste.

Hence, the plan to set up a new mine in the US raises concerns among local residents. Farmers fear the project would lower groundwater levels, and an environmental review by the U.S. Department of the Interior revealed the possibility. Threats to native pronghorn antelope, sage-grouse and golden eaglesThese are sacred birds to local Native Americans.

Thacker Pass, also known as Beehee Muhoo, is the traditional home of many First Nations who hunt deer, tend cherry orchards and gather plants used to make traditional medicines.

“We understand that we must all be involved in the fight against climate change,” the residents wrote in a statement. “However, the fight against climate change cannot be used as another excuse to destroy our homeland. We cannot protect the environment by destroying it.”

In 2022, the average price of lithium used in batteries will reach PLN 37,000. hole Per ton, the resources in the extinct volcano’s caldera could be worth nearly one and a half trillion dollars.

Canadian company Lithium Americas Corporation plans to launch Metal extraction already in 2026 Carry on the work for the next ones 40 years.

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