General Motors to partner on Salton Sea lithium production for electric vehicle batteries

Source: Desert Sun

Batteries are and will remain one of the largest cost drivers of electric vehicles. Lithium is a key battery material used in the cathodes and electrolytes of GM electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV. Lithium will become even more important in battery use as GM explores lithium metal batteries with a protected anode.

Most lithium used in lithium-ion batteries is currently mined and processed outside of the U.S. While electric vehicle advocates say lithium and other materials are critical to reducing greenhouse gases, some environmentalists worry about further degradation of air pollution in an already heavily polluted area with high rates of asthma, as well as possible damage to wildlife and habitat. The Salton Sea lithium projects, some of which have operated for years, also sit not far from a major earthquake fault. 

Legislators representing the region see it as a huge win for an area long plagued by high unemployment and low wages, but say health concerns must also be addressed.

Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, chair of the Assembly committee on California’s lithium economy, said in a statement that the Salton Sea area has the capacity to meet a third of global demand for the soft, silvery white metal, and with this first major investment, can quickly "take center stage in the future of our domestic lithium supply chain."

“Our efforts to galvanize a thriving, robust lithium economy in our Salton Sea region is becoming a reality more and more each day."

But in response to questions about adding to air pollution from lithium production, Garcia told CalMatters earlier this year that, “one of the main principles is to do no harm."