The Ford Motor Company and EnergySource Minerals (ESM) reached an agreement for lithium produced at facilities located at the Salton Sea.
ESM will supply Ford with lithium hydroxide produced at ESM's Project ATLiS™, located in Imperial Valley. Project ATLiS is expected to be operational in 2025, the company announced.
As highlighted in News Channel 3 Angela Chen's special series on the Salton Sea, ESM owns one of the 11 geothermal plants around the Salton Sea. The company plans to produce lithium by April 2024.
"One of the single best locations, one of the largest geothermal reservoirs in the world is right at the Salton Sea," Jonathan Weisgall, Vice President of Government Relations for Berkshire Hathaway Energy, told Angela in 2021.
Ford's deal comes as car companies seek to meet President Biden's nationwide goal of 50 percent electric vehicle sales by 2030, as well as California's mandate to phase out gas-powered vehicles by 2035.
Project ATLiS is expected to produce approximately 20,000 metric tons of lithium annually, which the company says will quadruple the current U.S. supply of domestic lithium and is enough material to build around 500,000 EVs for the auto industry per year.
"We are delighted to announce this contract with Ford Motor Company," said Eric Spomer, CEO of EnergySource Minerals. "The domestic supply chain for EVs in the United States is taking shape, literally from the ground up. Ford is embracing a domestic, sustainable standard for EV manufacturing, and we are proud to play a part in building America's clean energy supply chain."
Lisa Drake, Ford's vice president of EV Industrialization, Model e, added, "We are working with promising companies such as ESM to help support our ability to scale EV production and make EVs more accessible for customers over time. The work we are doing with ESM is key to growing our access to minerals such as lithium, which is essential to Ford's EV growth."
Ford is the latest company to look to the Salton Sea for lithium. This comes as experts say the lake 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.
In July 2021, General Motors reached a deal to make a multi-million dollar investment to develop low-cost lithium at Controlled Thermal Resources Hell's Kitchen project. In Nov 2022, GM invested an additional $500,000 for restoration efforts at the lake.
Nearly a year later, EV manufacturer Stellantis reached a 10-year-old agreement with CTR to supply up to 25,000 metric tons per year of lithium hydroxide which would support its U.S. product offensive.
News Channel 3 Morning Anchor Angela Chen has been covering the issues surrounding the Salton Sea for years, including the environmental and health aspects of the looming ecological disaster.
- Part 1: Paradise Lost - Angela looks back at the history of the Salton Sea. Find out its connection to Spanish explorers, and how it went from one of the most popular destinations to abandoned and on the verge of disaster
- Check Out 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 lake
- Part 3: A Lake Languished - Angela look 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