California’s Lithium Valley Could be Game Changer

January 30, 2022

Reuters:

General Motors Co (GM.N) is investing in a U.S. lithium project that could become the country’s largest by 2024, making the automaker one of the first to develop its own source of a battery metal crucial for the electrification of cars and trucks.

The deal, announced on Friday, comes as automakers around the world scramble for access to lithium and other electric vehicle (EV) metals as internal combustion engines are phased out.

Detroit-based GM said it will make a “multimillion-dollar investment” in and help develop Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) Ltd’s Hell’s Kitchen geothermal brine project near California’s Salton Sea, roughly 160 miles (258 km) southeast of Los Angeles.

“This will supply a sizeable amount of our lithium needs,” said Tim Grewe, GM’s director of electrification strategy.

The company declined to be more specific on its investment amount, but said the project’s lithium will be used to build EVs in the United States and that GM engineers and scientists will visit the site once pandemic-related travel restrictions end.

While other automakers, including China’s Great Wall Motor Co (601633.SS)and BYD (002594.SZ), have invested in lithium producers before, none appear to have taken such an aggressive step to be part of the production process, as GM is taking with CTR.

The move could spark other automakers to follow suit with similar partnerships, especially as demand for the metal is expected to outstrip supply by 20% within four years, according to industry consultant Benchmark Mineral Intelligence.

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