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Discovery of $540 billion worth of 'white gold' sitting beneath giant lake could change the future

Poppy Bilderbeck

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Discovery of $540 billion worth of 'white gold' sitting beneath giant lake could change the future

Featured Image Credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images / Robert Alexander/Getty Images

This is what the discovery of $540 billion 'white gold' under a lake could mean for the US and the rest of the world.

I detested science lessons and dropped them as swiftly as I could aged 16; alas, if I'd known it could've led to me stumbling across a whopping $540 billion 'white gold' mine, perhaps I'd have clawed on a little longer - hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Instead, a team of researchers taking part in a study funded by the Department of Energy (DOE) investigated the lithium reservoir lying underneath the Salton Sea in southern California.

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And here's what the staggering amount of lithium they discovered could mean for the future of the US and the rest of the globe too.

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It was already known there was a lithium reservoir underneath the Salton Sea, however, the study was launched in a bid to figure out just how much 'white gold' lay beneath - lithium known as white gold due to it's 'soft, silvery-white look,' according to Carbon Credits.

Lithium is 'the key metal used in manufacturing rechargeable batteries,' Carbon Credits continues. "Not just for EVs but for many other devices like laptops and mobile phones. EV carmakers prefer lithium-ion batteries as they're lightweight and can be quickly recharged," it's website states.

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But just how much lithium did the team find? And what does it mean for California, the US and the rest of the world?

Lithium is used in rechargeable batteries. Credit: Getty Images/ MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP
Lithium is used in rechargeable batteries. Credit: Getty Images/ MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP

Well, through drilling down beneath the lake, the team of scientists has confirmed a staggering four million tons of lithium is present. And they believe this could rise to a whopping 18 million tons.

LA Times climate journalist Sammy Roth told KJZZ Radio, as quoted by Indy 100: "They found that there's potentially enough lithium down there to supply batteries for 382 million electric vehicles, which is more, more vehicles than there are on the road in the United States today. So, if we could get all that lithium, that'd be huge."

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Geochemistry professor at the University of California, Riverside, Michael MKibben, also revealed: "This is one of the largest lithium brine deposits in the world. This could make the United States completely self-sufficient in lithium and stop importing it through China."

However, as always, it's not all quite as simple as that.

Scientists knew there was a lithium reservoir there, just not quite how much of the chemical element is actually present. Credit: Getty Images/ Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register
Scientists knew there was a lithium reservoir there, just not quite how much of the chemical element is actually present. Credit: Getty Images/ Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register

Extracting the lithium from underneath the lake is no easy feat.

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The lithium reservoir lies around 1,500 feet below the earth's surface, and the drilling to retrieve it would require a hefty water supply from the Colorado River - which is also heavily relied on by the residents in the surrounding area.

Topics: News, Money, US News, World News, Science, China, Technology

Poppy Bilderbeck
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