Some researchers have found in the US, in the McDermitt Caldera, on the border between Nevada and Oregon, what could be the largest lithium reserve in the world. According to the study published in Science Advances, the deposit could contain between 20 and 40 million tons of lithium, almost double that discovered this summer in Bolivia.
Last June, Paul A. Jacobson, chief financial officer of General Motors, sounded the alarm, raising the imminent risk of a shortage of lithium for the production of electric vehicles. Today, production of this material in the United States is stuck at 1% on a global scale, although authorities estimate that 12% of the world's deposits may be found on US soil.
Germany, the Czech Republic, Spain and Portugal are the countries in the bloc where it is estimated there are the most interesting reserves. Although none of these can compete so far with the one discovered in the McDermitt Caldera.
The largest lithium deposit in the world found in the USA
Currently, almost all lithium production is concentrated in four countries: Australia (47%), Chile (30%), China (15%) and Argentina (5%). The United States can count on good relations with Canberra, while the European Union recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Chile.
Geologist Anouk Borst told: "This discovery could change the dynamics of lithium globally, in terms of price, security of supply and geopolitics. The United States would have its own supply of lithium and industries would be less afraid of supply shortages." Lithium is the chemical element in the periodic table of elements that has atomic number 3 and symbol Li.
It is the second element of the first group, but it is the first of the metallic elements and the progenitor of the alkali metals. Among them, the ionization energy and electron affinity of lithium are the highest; consequently, it also has the highest electronegativity, but the value is among the lowest for metallic elements.
Lithium is a soft, ductile and malleable metal, silvery white in colour, but when in contact with air and humidity it oxidises very easily, progressively darkening. It is also the lightest of metals, with a density about half that of water.
Due to its high reactivity and like other alkali metals, lithium is not found in nature in its elemental state. It is mainly used in heat-conducting alloys, in batteries and as a component in compounds of pharmaceutical interest.