Groundbreaking launches construction on large-scale direct lithium extraction plant

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California Construction News staff writer

California’s inaugural large-scale direct lithium extraction plant is under construction near the Salton Sea, led by Australia-based Controlled Thermal Resources Holdings Inc. The $1.85 billion initiative aims to establish a comprehensive lithium and renewable power facility in the Imperial Valley.

The groundbreaking marked on Jan. 30 launched the initial phase of the ambitious “Lithium Valley Campus,” a multi-billion-dollar clean energy hub.

“Today, we are laying the groundwork for a sustainable battery materials and clean energy campus, bridging the gap between upstream, midstream, and downstream activities, setting new standards for battery supply chain integration in the U.S.,” said Rod Colwell, CEO of CTR.

The Lithium Valley Campus is a plan to consolidate industries crucial to battery manufacturing, revolutionizing the fragmented and carbon-intensive battery supply chain. This initiative is expected to generate about 480 union construction jobs and, in the long run, numerous clean energy jobs in the community.

The groundbreaking event followed a report from the Department of Energy and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory confirming the Salton Sea Geothermal Field in California as one of the world’s largest lithium brine resources, with the potential to support the production of 382 million electric vehicle batteries.

Governor Newsom highlighted the significance of the project, stating, “California is building faster to make our communities cleaner and greener. With this project, we can deliver clean power to hundreds of thousands of homes and create good-paying jobs.”

In July, Newsom endorsed a set of bills to expedite critical infrastructure projects across California, aiming to advance the state’s clean electric grid, enhance water supply, and modernize transportation. The objective is to streamline permitting processes, reduce bureaucratic hurdles, and allow state agencies to employ innovative project delivery methods.

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