Tonopah Flats Lithium Project
About the Project
ABTC’s Tonopah Flats Lithium Project encompasses one of the largest known inferred lithium claystone resource deposits in the United States. Located in Big Smoky Valley near Tonopah, Nevada, the project includes 517 unpatented lode mining claims covering approximately 10,340 acres of land that is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). ABTC began geologic exploration on the project area in 2021, and the results of this successful exploration program led to the publication of our Inferred Resource report in February 2023.
ABTC has conducted geological mapping, sampling, drilling, geochemical analysis, and proprietary extraction trials to characterize these resources and quantify the performance of the lithium extraction and manufacturing operations. Our in-house developed processes utilize selective leach extraction (SLE) to provide a lower-cost, lower-impact solution in contrast to conventional lithium extraction methods.
One of the USA’s largest known lithium deposits, with 15.8 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent; classified as Inferred.
Co-funded by two Department of Energy grants.
Low-risk mining jurisdiction with supportive local government and infrastructure.
Lower-cost, lower-impact process to yield battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate product – the precursor to battery cathodes.
Advancing towards commercialization via planned field demonstrations and a future commercial-scale manufacturing facility.
Providing a secure domestic supply of the lithium, critical to enabling the path to electrification.
Unique Claystone Mineralogy
The area where ABTC Tonopah Flats Lithium Exploration Project is located is known for its unique lithium-rich sedimentary claystone resource, which has demonstrated to be amenable to a selective leaching process, enabling economically viable lithium recovery.
Our in-house developed extraction and purification technologies are uniquely suited to extract and purify battery metals, including lithium, from these sedimentary claystone deposits.
In-House Developed Extraction Processes Advance Sustainability
Our first-of-kind extraction and purification processes utilize selective leach extraction (SLE) and novel purification technologies, enabling a low-cost extraction of lithium from sedimentary claystone resources.
These technological advancements allow for significantly lower consumption of chemical reagents, lower levels of contaminants in the generated leach liquor, lower water consumption, and lower overall production costs.
This disruptive step-change reduction in environmental impact, compared to conventional processing methods, allows for significant positive economic and social impacts for the host region and surrounding areas, without the negative impacts experienced with conventional processing facilities.
A system of continuous iteration/improvement: At University of Nevada Reno’s Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR) incubator facilities, the ABTC R&D Lab team works to constantly improve our extraction process and advance alongside new technologies.
Government Funding and Support
In January 2021, ABTC received a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office to fund the demonstration and scaling of ABTC’s extraction technologies into a multi-ton per day field demonstration system.
In October 2022, we received an additional grant in the amount of $57M to design, construct, commission, and operate a $115M commercial-scale facility to demonstrate ABTC’s novel process for the manufacturing of battery-grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from Nevada-based lithium-bearing sedimentary resources. Our grant application received letters of support from local agencies and community organizations.
Surrounding Nevada jurisdictions, including Esmeralda and Nye Counties, are welcoming and supportive of sustainable, responsible mining and processing operations.
Providing a Domestic Resource for Critical Minerals
The demand for battery minerals is set to grow exponentially through 2030 – a demand that cannot be met by recycling alone.
Currently, the US produces less than 1% of critical materials and is reliant on foreign production of these materials, which comes with higher transportation costs and greater geopolitical risks to domestic battery supply chains.
Secure domestic resources for these materials are needed to decrease US dependence on foreign imports, increase their sustainability, and support national security.
Top Talent, Highly Experienced in the Field
With decades of experience in the field, our on-the-ground specialists bring a breadth of expertise in exploration, mining, geology, and the dynamics of the Nye-Esmeralda County area. They are committed to the effort of supplying a secure, domestic source of battery materials, while also elevating and advocating for the local community.
ABTC’s R&D lab team and engineering teams have been working closely together to advance ABTC’s novel processes and technologies and strengthen the maturation of our battery metals extraction technologies so that battery metal products can be manufactured to meet the demanding standards set forth in battery grade material specifications.
Supporting our Local Communities
ABTC’s Tonopah Flats Lithium Project will provide 50-125 jobs during construction and 50 or more jobs once completed and operational, creating new, skilled jobs for the Big Smoky Valley region workforce, and supporting regional economic development opportunities for the Nye-Esmeralda County area.
The project will foster local community improvements through an environment and equity focused micro-grants program.
Building off a current partnership in place with the University of Nevada, Reno, ABTC will work to expand STEM-based education experiences and increase student internship opportunities, to develop the next generation of diverse scientists and engineers that will continue to innovate and grow the industry.
ABTC has been an active employer and member in the community for years and is proud to have received support from the Tonopah Development Corporation, the Town of Tonopah, and the Southwest Central Regional Economic Development Authority (SWCREDA).
The Tonopah Flats Lithium Project is located primarily in Esmeralda County, approximately 5 miles west of the town of Tonopah, Nevada in Big Smoky Valley. Midway between Las Vegas and Reno, Tonopah is a historic mining town and provides access to infrastructure including electricity, water, and skilled labor. The surrounding infrastructure and local government are supportive of new mining projects and conducive to the success of scaling new mining facilities.
ABTC’s 3rd party contractor, RESPEC, published an SK-1300 Compliant Inferred Resource Report to quantify this lithium-bearing resource, containing specific recommendations on the steps that need to be taken in order to advance the resource from Inferred into the Measured and Indicated category. The report classifies these resources as Inferred and indicates that the project contains 15.8 million tons of economically accessible lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE), establishing ABTC’s Tonopah Flats Lithium Project as one of the largest known lithium claystone deposits in the United States. ABTC will continue developing Tonopah Flats from a resource to a potentially viable commercial reserve.
Primary Metals Manufacturing Facilities
Over the past few years, ABTC has been designing and optimizing its internally developed processing train for the manufacturing of battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from Nevada-based sedimentary claystone resources. The steps towards commercialization of our Tonopah Flats Lithium Exploration Project encompass three central focuses:
① Extraction Technology Optimization with Partner Companies
Use and application of our extraction technology with partner companies who have provided sedimentary claystone resource samples to refine, test, and validate its internally developed technologies for potential commercialization at other resource sites.
② Development of a Domestic Field Demonstration Site
Our primary resource development efforts are currently being scaled to a multi-ton per day field demonstration system through the support of a grant from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office Critical Materials Innovation program.
Following the completion of construction, the site will utilize our in-house developed extraction process including selective leaching and targeted purification of battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from this unique domestic claystone resource. This first-of-kind ABTC technology for selective extraction of lithium from claystone resources has demonstrated at bench scale to significantly reduce chemical reagent consumption and environmental impact.
③ Commercial-Scale Lithium Hydroxide Manufacturing Demonstration Grant
In October 2022, we received a federal grant in the amount of $57M as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to design, construct, commission, and operate a $115M commercial-scale facility to demonstrate ABTC’s novel process for the manufacturing of battery grade lithium hydroxide monohydrate from Nevada-based lithium-bearing sedimentary resources.
Building off the work completed under a previous grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), this grant will fund the construction of a 5,000 mt (metric tonnes) LiOH*H2O/year commercial processing plant to be operated at the resource site, with the capacity of the facility to subsequently be expanded to an anticipated 30,000 mt LiOH*H2O/year.