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Western Lithium proceeding with clay mine: Lithium market continues to develop

WINNEMUCCA — For now, there’s not much going on at the Western Lithium mine site located 60 miles north of Winnemucca, but the future of electric batteries dependent on lithium is promising, and the current use of hectorite organoclays in directional drilling is even more promising.

Western Lithium President Jay Chmelauskas explained the electric car industry is in transition from earlier technology of nickel-metal hybrid batteries to ones dependent on lithium. He explained the change occurred first in small-scale electronics, such as computers and cordless tools.

“There has been nice growth in lithium demand market over the last several years,” Chmelauskas said. “With an 8 percent annual growth in lithium demand based on small-scale electronics alone.”

The benefits have since made their way into electric cars.

Lithium batteries are seen as positive for the auto industry due to the fact they have higher energy density and therefore better performance, Chmelauskas explained. Lithium batteries have three times the energy density, the battery is one-third the size, and can go three times further.

Companies such as Tesla offer all electric vehicles utilizing lithium batteries, with 100 pounds of lithium in the battery.

“We have been placing our demand expectation on this new demand from the electrification of automobiles,” Chmelauskas said.

Consumers are satisfied with their electric cars — himself included — and as demand has increased prices have begun dropping, which may increase demand even more in the long run — a positive development.
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