October 20, 2021
The U.S. Department of Energy released goals outlining the importance of domestic supply chains for minerals and metals like lithium. In the news for its use in electric vehicles, lithium is also crucial in a defense capacity, and has been for a long time. Lithium batteries are found in nearly every weapon system used by the U.S. Department of Defense, particularly for portable equipment. Lithium-ion batteries provide more energy for less weight, essential for a soldier carrying between 15-25 pounds of batteries alone.
Fortunately, lithium is available here in the U.S. Ioneer is one developer, and it is behind the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in Esmeralda County, Nevada. This is the largest known lithium and boron deposit in North America. It will produce around 24 thousand tons per year of lithium carbonate. In addition, Rhyolite Ridge will produce around 192 thousand tons per year of borates that are used for vehicle and body armor, as well as permanent magnets used in military applications. Domestically producing these inputs for our defense capabilities is essential to meet defense missions, and the materials are here ready to be mined.