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Arizona Home To Lithium Exploration To Meet Battery Demand

Mining is big business in Arizona. But, it's not all about copper. Increasingly, it's about metals used to support our changing technological needs, and that includes lithium.

Michael Hepworth is a consultant and shareholder of Lithium Energy Products, a company exploring the possibilities of mining the metal in Arizona.

The reason is batteries, which, according to a recent research report, the worldwide demand far outpaces supply. Hepworth says it's because of electric vehicles, which will outpace traditional car sales by 2020.

He says the increasing demand for lithium batteries is coming from China, which is moving away from fossil fuels in order to control its pollution problem.

"There are already a million electric vehicles on the road in the China, many of the buses there. And there are 200 models on the road, 50 manufacturers making 200 models and there's apparently another 5,000 models in the works. So this thing is going to scale tremendously," Hepworth said.    

The company has two properties in Arizona in Yavapai County and Wilcox Playa Basin, where they are exploring whether lithium deposits are rich enough to mine and process for sale. 

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the only commercially-active lithium mine in the U.S. is in Nevada.

Heather van Blokland was a host at KJZZ from 2016 to 2021.