lithium company ionize It said on Friday it had secured a conditional commitment for a loan of up to $700 million from the Department of Energy as the United States seeks to develop new supply chains for materials considered critical to the energy transition.
Ioneer is developing the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project in Esmeralda County, Nevada. When fully operational, the company said, the site will produce enough lithium for 400,000 electric cars, while also producing boron.
The plant has not yet been put into operation, but Ioneer has already entered into purchase agreements with stronghold And Toyota. Some experts believe there simply won’t be enough lithium to meet the boom in demand fueled by electric vehicles, which means automakers are increasingly entering into agreements with upstream players to secure supplies.
Rhyolite Ridge is a joint venture with Sibanye-Stillwater mining company, which owns 50% of the project after investing $490 million in September 2021.
The process of permitting new lithium mines is extensive. Ioneer’s loan from the Department of Energy is contingent on several conditions, including that the company obtain all necessary permits. The company said in December that it was in the final stage of the federal licensing process. The Center for Biological Diversity opposed the project, saying it posed an “existential threat” to a rare wildflower.
If approved, the loan, made under the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, would be for Ioneer’s on-site lithium processing facility.
Esmeralda County is also home to Albemarle Silver Peak facility, which is currently the only operating lithium plant in the United States
The United States has plenty of lithium, but getting it out of the ground is expensive, and new projects often face opposition due to environmental concerns.
However, Friday’s announcement is the latest in a series of lithium companies announcing new or expanded US plants in the wake of the inflation-lowering law. The legislation provides support for lithium companies on the manufacturing side, with incentives for electric vehicle tax breaks tied to where the vehicle battery is produced.
Albemarle is in the process of reopening its Kings Mountain mine in North Carolina, while doubling production at its Silver Peak facility.
Lithium Piedmont Unveiling plans for a new lithium refining plant in Tennessee in September, W Americas Lithium It is developing the Thacker Pass mine in Nevada. The project was delayed for years allowing snags.