An ancient supervolcano along the Nevada-Oregon border contains what could be the world’s largest single deposit of lithium. The findings could reshape the West’s supply of the critical metal — and might even change the geopolitical game with China.
Researchers from Lithium Americas Corporation, GNS Science, and Oregon State University published their findings in the Journal for Science Advances on Aug. 31. They found the McDermitt Caldera, a caldera measuring 28 miles long and 22 miles wide, on the Nevada-Oregon border, contains around 20 to 40 million metric tons of lithium – a figure that would dwarf deposits in Australia and Chile.
Commenting on the findings is Anouk Borst, a geologist at KU Leuven University and the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren, Belgium, who told Chemistry World that the McDermitt Caldera deposit “could change the dynamics of lithium globally, in terms of price, security of supply and geopolitics.”
Data from the United States Geological Survey, presented by Visual Capitalist Bruno Venditti, shows the US lags behind the world in terms of lithium production.
Even though the US has the third largest reserves.
If you can believe it, the US only has one producing lithium mine – Silver Peak – in Nevada (about halfway between Las Vegas and Carson City) – while worldwide demand is surging due to the government-forced clean energy transition. We noted in July that Exxon Mobil Corp. was in the beginning stages of possibly becoming a ‘lithium kingpin.’
Thomas Benson, a geologist with Lithium Americas Corporation and co-author of the new study, expects mining operations at the McDermitt Caldera to begin in early 2026.
Lithium prices have been on a rollercoaster of a ride since Coivd. Battery-grade lithium carbonate prices in China (priced in dollars) were as low as $5,850 per ton in the summer of 2020 and jumped as much as 1,200% through the peak of $80,000 in early 2022. Prices have since collapsed to $30,000.
Daily Mail pointed out, “As of 2022, the average battery-grade lithium carbonate price was $37,000 per metric ton, meaning the volcano is potentially sitting on $1.48 trillion worth of the precious metal.”
McDermitt Caldera positions Nevada as possibly the epicenter of the ‘green energy white gold rush’ amid a massive push by the Biden administration to force people to drive electric vehicles — all because they say there’s a ‘climate emergency.’