Rhyolite Ridge is located in a relatively remote location of Nevada, however, it is easily accessible from Reno, Las Vegas and California ports. Nevada is considered a first-rate mining friendly jurisdiction, with a large pool of skilled labour, and well-established infrastructure. Additionally, the Project’s location and proximity to the Pacific coast strategically positions ioneer for entrance into major U.S. and Asian end markets.
The global lithium market is expanding rapidly due to an increase in the use of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicle and energy storage applications. In recent years, the compound annual growth rate of lithium for battery applications was over 22% and is projected by Roskill to be more than 20% per year to 2028.
Electric vehicle sales are expected to escalate to over 25 million units by 2028, with China dominating global production.
Located in Nevada, near the west coast of the USA, Rhyolite Ridge is ideally positioned to supply the key geographic markets for lithium.
In the United States, there is currently only one small operating lithium mine in the country. Countries with the largest lithium reserves worldwide include:
- Chile – with the largest lithium reserves in the world at an estimated 7.5 million metric tonnes
- China – 3.2 million metric tonnes
- Australia – 2.7 million metric tonnes
- Argentina – 2 million metric tonnes
In 2018, the United States government declared lithium as critical to the economic and national security, emphasising the importance of a secure, stable and ethical supply chain for lithium and other battery minerals.
Benchmark Minerals Group predicts that U.S demand for lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide could exceed 344kt by 2025 with nearly no domestic supply.
As the lithium industry moves forward, it will become a strategically important industry central to the world’s economy and energy security. Every gigawatt hour ("GWh") of lithium-ion battery capacity requires approximately 800 tonnes of lithium carbonate.
A well-conceived long-term U.S. energy policy should support the development of a robust domestic lithium-ion battery manufacturing sector.
Tesla Motors Gigafactory 1 is located only 330km from Rhyolite Ridge and it is by far the largest planned lithium-ion battery manufacturing facility in North America. Production commenced in 2016 and is ramping up to a targeted annual output of 50GWh of batteries.
With its ideal geographic position, low-cost and large-scale operation, and battery grade reserve, Rhyolite Ridge is uniquely positioned to support the global surge in electric vehicles and energy storage with its lithium production.
A critical raw material used in more than 100 specialist applications globally. Boron is a high demand, low supply material.
Large-scale borate resources are very rare, with only two major suppliers of borates currently supplying 80% of the market – one in Turkey and one in the Mojave Desert in California, owned by Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto's open cut mine was started in 1957 and the reserves are diminishing. There are no announcements of any large expansions of existing producers and no new large-scale mines have been announced.
With only one major boron mine operating in North America, another domestic supplier would be welcomed by consumers to reduce their supply risk and increase competition in the domestic boron market.
China and North America are expected to continue being the two biggest borates markets over the forecast period, accounting for more than half of global demand. Rhyolite Ridge is ideally positioned to supply these markets and support the growing global demand for boron through increased competition and much-needed additional capacity in the market.