Lithium. It forms everywhere under dry desert lake beds in basins around the world. Many people aren’t aware of it, but there is a new gold rush abound. I’m from Nevada, and there are many junior miners popping up all over the state trying to lay claim to the briny liquid below the surface that might have enough lithium concentration to be refined into lithium carbonate, the raw material needed to build lithium batteries. With the TESLA Giga factory opening up shop soon, many wonder if there is really enough lithium in the world currently to meet the demand of a factory that plans to pump out more batteries than any predecessor before it .
But the race isn’t only here at home, the Chinese are both mining and buying up lithium placer claims all over the place, with a heavy concentration in Australia. The main source of Lithium in China lies in a landlocked area at a staggering elevation of 14,400 feet, very close to Lhasa in Tibet. For those that have not experienced what it feels like to be at elevations higher than 10,000 feet, it can be very difficult on the body for some. I personally experience some light-headedness when getting up that high, but when you combine it with the extreme dry conditions in the Tibet area, it can be deadly.
The moisture is sucked out of your lungs quickly as the powerful sun beats down on your head, not many clouds in site in the unforgiving heights of the Tibetan plateau. You can imagine what the lithium miners go through to mine this brine in these types of environments, similar to the ones that are currently being mined out in Bolivia and other high and dry elevations of South America. This is why areas like Nevada and Australia are becoming such a huge value to the world of lithium mining; most of the world’s mines cannot sustain a large crew of miners and engineers working at 100% output around the clock due to the environmental factors.
The biggest Chinese M&A miner would be Tianqi, who has focused on lithium assets in Australia and assuredly has its eyes set on Nevada where a Chinese competitor is attempting to build a similar operation to Tesla in Southern Nevada. I was never personally convinced about the power of lithium until two things, #1, I had a ride in a Tesla model S and #2, I purchased an EGO lawnmower. The acceleration of the model S was amazing, definitely on par with any muscle cars I’ve felt. Then came the EGO lawnmower, which makes little noise and absolutely shredded through a large ultra thick lawn. I was flabbergasted and immediately convinced that this is the most feasible way to store and transport energy going into the future. I’m sure glad I live in Nevada. The future looks bright.