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Harry Reid announces expansion of lithium mining in Silver Peak



harryreid1-150x150-5444163-3710910WASHINGTON, D.C.—Sen. Harry Reid joined Rockwood Holdings in announcing the expansion of its lithium production operation in Silver Peak. The expansion is being partially financed by $28.4 million in Recovery Act funding administered in a grant from the Department of Energy for the development of advanced batteries.

The Chemetall Foote operation, which is the only operating domestic lithium operation in the United States, is the main economic driver in Silver Peak.

“This is great news for the people of Silver Peak and Esmeralda County,” said Reid. “The expansion of this project further demonstrates Nevada’s commitment to renewable energy production and alternative power through advanced batteries. This development is especially important for rural communities where mining is a major employer. Chemetall’s model of using renewable energy to power the operation is an excellent example for other mining operations in the Silver State.”

“At Christmas last year the people of the town of Silver Peak had experienced only bad news. Long-time friends and co-workers were forced to leave due to layoffs; the economy was horrible. They felt hopeless and doomed to extinction,” said Esmeralda County Commissioner Nancy Boland.

“In my letter to constituents in Silver Peak I spoke to them about how important and abundant the natural resources here are for renewable energy. Shortly thereafter the town was alive with geothermal exploration drill rigs and Chemetall Foote slowly started to rehire and hire for new jobs. The expansion of the lithium operation will restore jobs and health to our community. I thank Senator Reid who heard of our distress and proactively supported our county to accomplish this expansion, which is important not only to Esmeralda County but also to our nation as a whole.”

“The recovery grant money and the support we received from Senator Reid have allowed us to increase the work we are doing in Silver Peak,” said Joe Dunn, operations manager for Chemetall Foote’s lithium mine in Nevada. “Using Nevada’s solar and geothermal resources to nearly completely power our operation, we are able to reduce energy costs and make the operation more efficient. Nevada is a rich source of this mineral and a welcoming state to the mining industry, so much of that has been the advocacy of Senator Reid.”

In the next few months, as the operation expands, Chemetall Foote will begin a well drilling program to double the capacity of its lithium carbonate production. The DOE grant will be used to install a geothermal power plant, in addition to existing use of the sun for solar evaporation, to make the operation self-sufficient for its electric power.

This means more jobs in renewable energy. As of last month, 20 new jobs have been created either at Chemetall Foote or contractors directly working on projects for the site. During the peak of construction in 2011 and 2012, the project will employ 50 additional people. At the conclusion of the project in 2013 the site will employ 50 people, doubling the number of employees from 2009.

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