Thacker Pass, Nev. Photo: Courtesy Lithium Americas

The Electric: The New ‘Elephants’—GM Grabs the Biggest Lithium Deposit in the U.S.

Photo: Thacker Pass, Nev. Photo: Courtesy Lithium Americas

For a century, the world’s oil drillers fought for rights to what they called “elephants,” supergiant oil fields in the Middle East, Central Asia and the U.S., because just one of them could make a company fabulously wealthy. Now global auto companies are scrambling for the new elephants—giant lithium deposits, which are emerging as a key to success in the emerging age of electric vehicles.

In a coup announced Tuesday, General Motors pushed aside more than 50 rivals and won rights to up to 15 years of production from one of the new elephants—Thacker Pass, Nev., the largest known lithium deposit in the U.S. If all goes well, Vancouver mining company Lithium Americas, which has rights to the mine, will sell GM enough lithium this decade to supply around 1 million EVs a year.

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