Western Lithium plans to mine clay | nnbw.com

Western Lithium plans to mine clay

NNBW staff

Western Lithium USA Corp. is seeking the approval of state and federal officials to mine a specialized clay that’s used for deep-drilling operations by petroleum companies.

The Reno-based company said last week it hopes to begin mining hectorite, a type of clay, from its Kings Valley property about 25 miles northwest of Orovada.

The mine it’s proposed as an open-pit operation would generate cash flow for Western Lithium as it also works to develop a deposit of lithium at the King Valley property, said Jay Chmelauskas, the company’s chief executive officer.

He said the market for specialty clay products to serve energy companies grew at a double-digit rate in the past year.

The company hopes to have approval of its plans from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection by the first quarter of 2014.

Western Lithium proposes shipping raw clay from the mine elsewhere in the United States or even internationally for processing. The company has been working the past year to develop clay products, Chmelauskas said.

Demand for the lithium on the King Valley property is expected to grow, the company has said, as it’s increasingly used for batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles.