Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla Inc. acquired the right to mine lithium in Nevada after abandoning the idea of buying a local company, Bloomberg reports, citing knowledgeable sources.
According to them, in recent months the automaker has been negotiating with Cypress Development Corp., which is trying to extract lithium from clay deposits in southwestern Nevada, but the parties have not agreed.
Tesla then focused on starting to mine lithium in the state on its own, in accordance with the plan that the head of the company Elon Musk presented last week.
Tesla did not respond to agency requests for comment. Cypress declined to comment on the talks with the automaker.
Bloomberg notes that the production of lithium from clay has until now been considered a difficult and costly process, and no company has been able to establish commercial production. However, self-mining of lithium is central to Tesla's plan to reduce battery costs by 50% and produce an affordable $ 25,000 electric vehicle.
Musk told investors last week that Tesla has gained access to 10,000 acres of lithium-rich clay deposits in Nevada and plans to use a new, "highly sustainable" way to mine the metal. Instead of using large volumes of water and evaporation, which is traditional for lithium production, the company expects to extract lithium using a new process using table salt.
This will ensure low costs and minimal impact on the environment, Musk said. However, this technology, which has never been used to produce lithium before, is questioning some analysts. "Lithium has never been commercially produced from clay," says Chris Berry, president of House Mountain Partners, a consultancy for battery metal manufacturers and investors.