The US Department of Energy will be providing a $28.4 million grant to expand the Silver Peak lithium production facility operated by the Chemetall Foote subsidiary of Rockwood Holdings. The funding grant represents 50 percent of the estimated project development upgrading costs.
By Dave Brown - Exclusive to LithiumInvestingNews.com The US Department of Energy ( DOE) will be providing a $28.4 million grant to expand the Silver Peak lithium production facility operated by the Chemetall Foote subsidiary of Rockwood Holdings (NYSE: ROC). The funding grant represents 50 percent of the estimated project development upgrading costs. The DOE grant is partially being used to install a geothermal power plant which the company expects will make the operation self-sufficient for electric power. The company believes that the reduced energy costs will increase the global competitiveness of the operation and that the combination of solar and geothermal energy should supply more than 98 percent of the energy requirements at the site. In the next few months the project expectations include the addition of a well drilling program that will double the capacity of its lithium carbonate production. The Silver Peak plant, which is currently the only operating domestic lithium resource in the US, extracts lithium salts by brine evaporation in the Clayton Valley. The brine is pumped from salt-rich aquifers beneath the desert and evaporated in large ponds on the desert surface. The concentrated brine is then pumped to a production plant where it is converted into lithium carbonate, the basic raw material for lithium compounds. Lithium investors will already be aware that there is growing consensus that energy storage is the next big investment opportunity because cost-efficient storage can significantly improve the profit potential and reliability of every alternative power technology. While some observers remain critical of potential system costs and safety risks, this most recent grant from the DOE to Rockwood seems to underscore a bullish investment thesis and indicates a further commitment to clean technology and alternative fuel sources that the current administration is demonstrating.