Massive Lithium Deposit Worth $1.5 Billion Just Down the Road from Sunday River
Found just north of Plumbago Mountain in Newry, it's the richest known hard rock lithium deposit in the world.
I know you've heard of lithium. It's huge for batteries and is in all sorts of things that run our lives. The Maine Monitor says that this deposit in Maine has major resource potential. We're talking it's a hell of a find. They think there are about 11 million tons of ore worth around $1.5 billion and up to 36 feet in length. Some of the crystals with lithium are the biggest ever found. This was formed three miles underground during the cooling of granite magma, the crystals rose to the surface over hundreds of millions of years as the mountains above them crumbled and eroded. After all that it is now partially exposed, and the deposit has a higher percentage of lithium content by weight than any other in the world. Ka-ching.
Why is lithium so important?
First and foremost, lithium is very sought after because it's lightweight and can store lots of energy. It's important for batteries for electric vehicles and holds excess energy generated by wind turbines and solar panels. Demand for lithium-ion batteries is expected to grow by leaps and bounds by the end of the decade as we move away from fossil fuels!
Wait...this major find might never be mined? Why?
Mining laws in Maine passed in 2017 prohibit mining for metals in open pits of more than three acres, which would be the only way to cost-effectively extract lithium at Plumbago North. Lithium is considered a metal. So now what? You could go under the earth to extract it, but that would cost more than it's worth. The very restrictive mining laws in Maine are to protect the environment. We've had some bad experiences with mining and environmental damage. But lithium is a safer metal to extract than say iron. But it's still banned. So now what?
What do the property owners want to do?
Mary Freeman and her husband own the land. They are waiting to learn more about the reserves and talk to the Department of Environmental Protection before deciding what to do. They've prospected for gems in Oxford County for years, and hope to keep exploring this land. Open-pit mining, the only feasible way to extract the lithium creates a giant hole in the earth that never goes away. That's a big decision. It would be a huge boost for Maine's green initiatives...stay tuned. Thank you to the Maine Monitor for such a great story.