In 2016, there was interest in lithium because the Tesla Megafactory was being built in Nevada.
In Nevada, lithium has been extracted from brine in Silver Peak, Nevada since 1966. Exploration for new lithium sources have focused on brine sites that are in closed basins surrounded by volcanics. The San Emidio Desert, may have a lithium brine deposit that is economically viable.
San Emidio Desert
Nevada Energy Metals has some maps of lithium prospects and states that previous operators reported lithium in sediments averaging 250 ppm. Nevada Energy Metals quotes Moore J.N. 1997. That reference is not being found, but there is J. N. Moore 1979.
In 2011, The Lithium Corporation staked 1600 acres of claims in the San Emidio Valley. The site states that the "Map Position" is "294000E 4475000N". These figures are in the UTM coordinate system, the full coordinates are "11T 294000E 4475000N", which earthpoint.us converts to 40.4001440°, -119.4274283°.
Black Rock Desert
In February 2023, Fuse Battery Metals announce their plan to purchase 108 claims from Malcolm J. Bell. The center of the Lithium Springs prospect is at about 40° 40' 33" N, 119° 19' 52"W. Fuse Battery Metals named the prospect "Lithium Springs". The basin is fed from springs with lithium values of up to 3.5 ppm. These values lower than commercially viable lithium brines, but they do indicate a possible sort for concentration via evaporation within the basin.
In January, 2017, an article in the Reno Gazette Journal stated that in 2015, Nevada Energy Metals staked 199 claims in the southwest arm of the Black Rock Desert. Nevada Energy Metals is one of about 25 companies that about 10,500 lithium claims from 2015 until 2017.
In December, 2016, Nevada Energy Metals reported that it collected 88 samples in the southwest arm of the Black Rock Desert and that 73 samples has more than 100ppm of Lithium. Nevada Energy Metals believe that this shows that lithium has been deposited in the area and is available for extraction. Nevada Energy Metals reported that the Great Boiling Spring had 3.1ppm Lithium and although that level is not sufficient to produce lithium brines, the level is a possible source for concentration by natural processes. The 2016 sampling program collect surface samples every 200 meters on lines that were separated by 400 meters. Lithium values in the samples were from 82.8 to 520 parts per million and the media was 182 ppm.
Some of the claims are in the San Emidio Desert, which technically is part of the Black Rock Desert.
- Washoe County does not encompass much of the Black Rock Desert, the county line about 5 miles north of Gerlach.
- To track down mining claims in Washoe County, there are the following methods:
- Lists a number of claims by Nevada Energy Metals
- Some of the claim names begin with SED, which is possibly San Emidio Desert.
- Some of the claim names begin with GRN
- GRN119 (NMC1124534) is at 32N 23E 011 SE, which is located at 40.6480697, -119.3699817, which is about about a mile north east of town.
- Washoe County Online Records Search
In 2003, the BLM wrote: "Lithium: Based on the anomalous occurrences of lithium noted in the east arm of the Black Rock Desert and north of Gerlach on the playa (Nash 1996) it is believed that the South Playa Area has medium potential. Volcanic rocks and related sediments near calderas ring fractures and moat sediments are also of medium potential other volcanic rocks are considered low potential. These types of rocks occur in the Lahontan cutthroat trout Area"
Nash 1996 does not say anything about anomalous occurrences. Nash 1996 states:
"Geologic setting: Lithium-rich clay minerals (hectorite) form by diagenesis or hydrothermal alteration of volcanic glass. Optimum conditions are created where alteration is within a closed basin formed by block faults or caldera ring faults. At McDermitt caldera, highest concentrations of lithium are in caldera moat-filling volcaniclastic sedimentary rocks. Lithium is postulated to be leached during alteration and concentrated in the basin, eventually becoming incorporated in hectorite. Age is Tertiary to Recent."
"Another setting for lithium deposits is possible in the WSRA: Li-rich playa brines. These are known from playas elsewhere in Nevada (as near Silver Peak) and are a major by-product source of lithium at Searles Lake, CA."
"We have insufficient information to evaluate this potential environment that possibly would pertain to playas in the western and southwestern parts of the study area (Black Rock Desert, Humboldt, and Carson sinks)"
"Economic factors: The volcanic-dominated basins possibly would produce by-products such as Hg, U, zeolites, and clays. However, such by-products can contaminate Li-rich clays and limit their applications. Despite Li concentrations as high as 0.68 percent, technology for large-scale extraction of Li from hectorite has not been developed. A large production facility would need to be close to good transportation facilities for either Li-clay or a Li-salt produced at site."
"Assessment: The permissive tract is Tertiary volcanic rocks, as for diatomite and clay deposits. The more favorable areas would have normal or ring faults to create grabens or caldera moats and to focus alteration and solutions; intrusive plugs along those 12 bounding faults drive fluid flow. The McDermitt caldera is the best structural setting for these deposits; other postulated calderas in the WSRA do not have well developed moats. References: Asher-Bolinder, 1991; Rytuba and Glanzman, 1979"
Miller 1993 states: "Lithium. Three samples taken by Bohannon and Meier (1976, p. 6) from the Black Rock Desert contained a maximum of 120 ppm and an average of 94 ppm lithium. Lithium content of 30 samples taken by Olson (1985, p. 9, 16) in the Black Rock Desert WSA was from 20 to 60 ppm. Selected samples analyzed for lithium during the 1992 study were consistent with these earlier analyses. Maximum lithium in a hot-spring environment was 62 ppm (sample ETMM035) taken from alluvium at the LuckyKelso prospect @I. 1, no. 31), at Soldier Meadow."
Bohannon states "The purpose of the sampling program was to determine if areas of anomalous lithium could be recognized by reconnaissance surface sampling. The results, however, have been indeterminate because most large lithium deposits occur at depth and appear to be formed when deeply buried. Many may not manifest themselves at the surface at all . Nonetheless, the data derived during the surface sampling program will be presented in this report."
Bohannon states that there were three samples taken, the high was 120ppm the low was 7 ppm and the average was 94ppm. At Smoke Creek, the high was 74 ppm, the low was 43 ppm, the average was 62 ppm and there were 4 samples taken. At Winnemucca Lake, the high was 100 ppm, the low was 81 ppm, the average was 89 ppm and there were 4 samples taken.
- Umbral Energy, "Gerlach Nevada Lithium Brine Prospect," Website, retrieved 02-Jun-2016 (archive.org).
- Nevada Energy Metals, "San Emidio Li Project," Website, retrieved 02-Jun-2016, (archive.org).
- J. N. Moore, "Geology Map of the San Emidio Geothermal Area," 1979.
- The Lithium Corporation, "San Emidio Project," Website, retrieved 04-Jun-2016, (archive.org)
- "Fuse Battery Metals Expands its Land Holdings by Adding a Lithium Exploration Project in Nevada," February 17, 2023. Press release.
- "Geothermal resources of the western arm of the Black Rock Desert, northwestern Nevada: Part I, geology and geophysics," Open-File Report 81-918, Donald H. Schaefer, Alan H. Welch, Douglas K. Mauzer. 1983.
- Jenny Kane, "Mining company claims 4,000 acres in Black Rock Desert, January 9, 2017, Reno Gazette Journal.
- Nevada Energy Metals, "Soil Survey Results Prompts Claim Block Expansion at Black Rock Desert, Nevada. (archive.org)."
- BLM, "Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area and Associated Wilderness, and Other Contiguous Lands in Nevada, Resource Management Plan: Environmental Impact Statement, Volume 1," 2003.
- J. T. Nash, "Resource Assessment of the US Bureau of Land Management's Winnemucca District and Surprise Resource Area Northwest Nevada and Northeast California Resource of Industrial Rock and Minerals," USGS Open File Rept 95 271, 1996.
- Miller, "Minerals in the Emigrant Trail Study Area," 1993
- U.S. Bureau of Mines Open-File Report, ML 7-93, p. 84.
- Bohannon, R.G., and Meier, A.L., 1976, Lithium in sediments and rocks in Nevada," U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 76-567, 17 p.
- Asher-Bolinder, Sigrid, 1991, Descriptive model of lithium in smectites of closed basins, in Oriss, G.J., and Bliss, J.D., eds., Some industrial mineral deposit models: descriptive deposit models,: U. S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 91-11A, p. 9-10.
- Rytuba, J.J., and Glanzman, R.G., 1979, Relation of mercury, uranium, and lithium deposits to the McDermitt caldera complex, Nevada-Oregon, in Ridge, J.D., ed., Papers on mineral deposits of western North America: Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Report 33, p. 109-117.