February 23, 2024
Raul Flores holds up a bit of lithium at Imperial Valley Neighborhood Faculty whereas explaining to his classmates how it’s extracted and refined. (Philip Salata/inewsource)

Earlier than Raul Flores held “white gold” in his fingertips, he’d tried his hand at different Imperial Valley jobs. He labored as a correction officer within the state jail, he grew medjool dates on ten acres of land and he ultimately landed a job on the geothermal vegetation across the Salton Sea.

Then he acquired wind that underneath his ft lay sufficient lithium to provide roughly a 3rd of the world’s demand, and he knew that was a recreation changer.

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“Lithium equals future,” mentioned Flores, holding a gleaming chunk of lithium chloride between his fingertips so his classmates may get a greater look. 

The crystal in his arms made concrete one thing that has eluded him and the opposite college students, all a part of Imperial Valley Faculty’s inaugural class of aspiring lithium trade staff: 

The promise of a greater future.

The 49ers soccer jersey Flores wore harkened again to a different period when folks pinned their hopes and desires on minerals within the earth. 

Might this be the subsequent gold rush?

A key metallic in batteries that energy electrical vehicles and computer systems, lithium has spiked in worth during the last decade as international demand for the “white gold” has skyrocketed. 

The large, untapped repository in Imperial Valley – price $500 billion by some estimates – may assist make america a brand new — and key — participant within the trade worldwide. That’s as a result of virtually all the world’s provide is mined and refined overseas. 

Chile sits on the vast majority of the world’s untapped reserves, mines in Australia present greater than half of the world’s provide, and China produces over half of the world’s batteries. The U.S. is barely on the chart.

Within the Imperial Valley, firms working geothermal energy vegetation on the Salton Sea have identified for years that the brine they’ve been pumping from reservoirs deep within the floor incorporates lithium, however the know-how to extract it and the demand haven’t existed till not too long ago. Right now, each exist. Virtually.

Learn the complete article on inewsource.org.

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