VALE, Ore. (AP) — An Australian company has started drilling at a southeast Oregon site that could eventually host a large lithium mine.
Mineral exploration company Jindalee Resources Ltd. announced this week that it’s working to determine the extent of a lithium deposit in southern Malheur County, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
The company said in a news release that the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries has approved drilling of 39 holes to shore up Jindalee’s estimate of how much lithium exists there.
Jindalee has said the deposit west of the Oregon-Nevada border town of McDermitt is among the largest lithium deposits in the United States.
Bob Brinkmann with the state's Mineral Land Regulation and Reclamation office said this appears to be the first application received to explore for lithium in Oregon.
A request for comment by the media outlet from Jindalee has not been returned.
Lithium is an extremely lightweight metal seen as key to a global transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The element is a critical component of rechargeable batteries used to power electric vehicles and store power generated by things like wind and solar.
The Biden administration has said it wants to significantly increase the amount of lithium sourced and processed in the United States. Jindalee says the McDermitt Lithium Project has potential to do both.
A proposed lithium mine on the caldera in Nevada has been controversial for its potential ecological harm, desecration of a historic massacre site, and possible disruptions to ranching.