Green River Star -

Our View: Lithium ore may be our future


Elon Musk probably didn’t make a lot of friends in the energy industry when he recently unveiled his company’s new line of residential and commercial batteries.

The Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO’s Powerwall batteries solve a critical problem for people wanting to remove themselves from the power grid using residential solar and wind generators; the problem of what to do when the wind stops and when the sun goes down.

So far, preorders of the Powerwall batteries have outperformed their projections, selling out through the middle of next year. In preparation for increased demand, Tesla Motors is building a $5 billion manufacturing plant in the Nevada desert that will include a section dedicated to lithium-ion batteries.

Couple this with companies like Uber, Google and allegedly Apple racing to create self-driving electric cars means oil and gas as a primary means of fuel will lose demand and likely lose value. One research paper from Columbia University suggests the change from gas to electric vehicle could start as early as 2020, with electrically powered, driverless vehicles dominating American roads by as soon as 2040.

For those wanting to thank Obama for the so-called “war on coal” they’re thanking the wrong party. For coal and oil, their decline won’t ultimately be from increasing regulations, but by the continual progress of technology.

In Sweetwater County, this could be cause for some concern as the county heavily depends on minerals as a source of funding. However, Sweetwater County can made the transition from oil and gas to electric generation through its vast lithium resources.

Companies have already expressed interest in the deposits east of Rock Springs, which are said to be large enough to supply world demand for roughly 700 years. Supposing recovery methods would be economic enough, companies could shift to lithium supplied from Sweetwater County for use in batteries for the coming surge of electric vehicles and devices.

Admittedly, we’re not saying this will happen overnight. Yet, the pieces are in place for the transition to occur. Trona isn’t threatened the way oil and coal are. If Sweetwater County isn’t able to sell itself as the source for lithium, it won’t be just the county and its residents that will suffer. The entire state could see severe shortfalls in the next several decades.

Until battery technology improves, the demand for lithium will only increase, lithium Sweetwater County can readily supply. Both Wyoming and Sweetwater County should start moving towards exploiting that resource east of Rock Springs. If not, we may get left in the dust.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2017