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Scientists make ‘huge’ discovery worth $540 billion at the bottom of a huge lake

A “white gold” mine containing treasures worth $540 billion has been discovered at the bottom of a huge lake in Southern California.

The Salton Sea, the largest lake in the U.S. state, was studied by scientists as part of research funded by the Department of Energy.

The aim of the study was to find out how much lithium – also called “white gold” because of its white, sand-like appearance – was at the bottom of the huge body of water.

Amazingly, there was a lot of it – an incredible 18 million tons are said to be on the bottom of the lake. And this after scientists had already confirmed that there were four million tons of lithium in the lake, which had been discovered during a drilling operation.

The amount of lithium discovered in the lake is so large that it could be used to produce batteries for an incredible 382 million electric vehicles. This would make the USA overtake China and become the leading nation in this chemistry.

Michael McKibben, a professor of geochemistry at the University of California, Riverside and one of the study's 22 authors, said: “This is one of the largest lithium brine deposits in the world. This could make the United States completely self-sufficient in lithium and end imports through China.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom once referred to Salton Lake as the Saudi Arabia of lithium. This new discovery now means the lake is the largest source of lithium in the world.

Sammy Roth, climate journalist for the LA Times, told radio station KJZZ: “They found that there is potentially enough lithium down there to supply batteries for 382 million electric vehicles. That's more vehicles than are on the road in the United States today. So if we could get all that lithium, it would be huge.”

However, extracting lithium from the lake is not without risks.

Accordingly SFGATEGetting to the lithium will not be easy and will require “geothermal production drilling to extract the lithium-rich brine from thousands of meters below the earth's surface. Once the lithium is dissolved from the brine, the liquid is pumped back underground.”

Not only could the drilling affect 180,000 nearby residents, but the water supply from the Colorado River could also be affected because large amounts of water are required for the drilling.

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