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EV manufacturer reaches agreement to buy lithium produced at the Salton Sea

Geothermal Plant at Salton Sea
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Geothermal Plant at Salton Sea

Stellantis reached an agreement with Controlled Thermal Resources' Hell's Kitchen project to buy lithium produced at the Salton Sea to supply its North American electric vehicle production.

The 10-year-old agreement will see the CTR supply up to 25,000 metric tons per year of lithium hydroxide, the companies announced. The supply will support Stellantis' U.S. product offensive of over 25 all-new battery electric vehicle (BEV) launches and 50% BEV sales planned by 2030.

CTR is an Australian-based company that's building an entirely new geothermal and lithium plant near the Salton Sea from the ground up.

Check Out: Leaders urge public participation in Salton Sea lithium extraction planning

The Salton Sea

The company will produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide and lithium carbonate along with geothermal energy in the area with a resource production capacity in excess of 300,000 metric tons per year.

The Hell's Kitchen project recovers lithium from geothermal brines utilizing renewable energy and steam to produce battery grade lithium products in an integrated, closed-loop process, eliminating the need for evaporation brine ponds, open pit mines, and fossil-fueled processing.

“In the fight against global warming, bolstering our battery electric vehicle supply chain to support our bold electrification ambitions is absolutely critical,” said Carlos Tavares, Stellantis CEO. “Ensuring we have a robust, competitive, and low-carbon lithium supply from various partners around the world will enable us to meet our aggressive electric vehicle production plans in a responsible manner.”

More: This California desert could hold the key to powering all of America’s electric cars

Last year, CTR struck a deal with General Motors to supply its future electric car batteries from lithium at the Salton Sea.

The Salton Sea alone has the estimated potential to provide 40 percent of the lithium used by the world, which would make it the largest source in the world.

News Channel 3 Morning Anchor Angela Chen went in-depth on the potential of lithium in the region and how extrication will work in her award-winning special series "Troubled Water: The Salton Sea Project"

"The geothermal brine at the Salton Sea is unique in the world," said Jonathan Weisgall, Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs for Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

The potential is there, but companies are still a ways off from seeing actual mass lithium production.

"If this is a baseball game, we're still in the first inning, but we're pretty confident we're gonna win this game," said Weisgall.

The earliest we could see lithium production would be by CTR in early 2024.

CTR isn't the only company in the mix looking to produce lithium in the Salton Sea.

Energy Source, which owns one of the 11 geothermal plants around the Salton Sea, also plans to produce lithium by April of 2024. Berkshire Hathaway, which owns the other 10 geothermal plants under the subsidiary Cal Energy, plans to produce lithium on a mass scale by 2027. 

Last year, Garcia passed AB 1657 creating a Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction in California (Lithium Valley Commission) to bring together industry experts and community stakeholders to review, analyze, and report recommendations to advance lithium extraction opportunities.

A final report is due to the California State Legislature by October 1, 2022.

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage on the future of the Salton Sea.

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Troubled Waters: The Salton Sea Project is a special four-part series in which News Channel 3 morning anchor Angela Chen takes a look at the history, ongoing issues, and the fight for the future of the Salton Sea.

Click here to visit our Salton Sea Project section to learn more about the special report

  • Part 1: Paradise Lost - Angela looks back at the history of the Salton Sea. Find out it's connection to Spanish explorers, and how it went from one of the most popular destination to abandoned and on the verge of disaster
  • Part 2: Toxic Exposure - Angela goes in-depth on the history of toxic outbreaks at the Salton Sea and its connection to the current health issues of those who live near the lak
  • Part 3: A Lake Languished - Angela looks at the millions spent over the years to save the Salton Sea and why there is so little progress to show for it
  • Part 4: Salton Sea Plea - There are massive environmental problems at the Salton Sea, but after decades of neglect, could the lake's unique location be part of the solution in saving it? Angela highlights the movement happening to save the lake

Jesus Reyes

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