LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A new Nevada mine approved this week by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will produce vanadium, a critical mineral used in “long duration” batteries used in utility-grade energy storage.
When it goes into operation, the Gibellini Vanadium Mine outside of Eureka will produce nearly 10 million pounds of vanadium each year — roughly 60% of U.S. demand, according to a BLM news release.
The mine is expected to operate for about seven years and employ 120 people.
Vanadium batteries degrade less over time than the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, but they are not portable like the batteries in EVs. They use tanks of electrolytes dissolved in water and can be charged tens of thousands of times over decades. There’s no fire risk with vanadium flow batteries — VFBs — but they require cooler temperatures than lithium-ion batteries.
A more likely use of vanadium batteries is in storing electricity produced by solar farms, or in “off-grid” installations.
The BLM-approved Plan of Operations indicates the mine will run entirely on clean energy, including a solar array and battery storage system. “Haul trucks and other mine equipment will also be powered by electricity and will rely on clean energy generated by the solar array,” the news release said.
“Responsible development of critical minerals is central to the clean energy transition,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, BLM Director. “BLM is leading the way with efficient and collaborative permitting processes as we build a sustainable supply chain to power our clean energy future.”
The project, which received the green light from the BLM on Thursday, has been in the works since 2020. The site is near the southern end of the Fish Creek Range along the Eureka-Nye county line just southwest of Eureka.
Vanadium is the 20th-most abundant element in the earth’s crust, and it is mined mostly in China, South Africa and eastern Russia.