Lithium Companies Fight Over Water in the Arid Great Basin

In the Nevada valley that is one of the most significant domestic sources of a key element for the energy transition, one company controls the groundwater needed to mine it, another is fighting for a share of it and others are lining up at the tap.

Over the past few decades, the United States has imported most of its lithium from Chile and Argentina, but there’s one major domestic source of the mineral—Nevada. Clayton Valley, a remote basin in the nation’s driest state, is home to the Silver Peak mine, where lithium is extracted in gridded ponds that turn neon blue as they recover one of Earth’s lightest elements through solar evaporation.