The Tonopah Lithium Project is located near Tonopah, Nevada, US. (Credit: American Battery Technology Company/ PRNewswire)
ABTC’s chief mineral resource officer Scott Jolcover inspects sedimentary claystone samples at its Tonopah Flats Lithium Project. (Credit: American Battery Technology Company/ PRNewswire)
The project is estimated to contain 15.8 million tonnes of economically accessible lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). (Credit: fdecomite/ Flickr)

The Tonopah Flats Lithium Project in Nevada, the US, is one of the largest known lithium claystone resource deposits in the country.

The project is owned by American Battery Technology Company (ABTC), a critical battery materials company.

A geologic exploration on the project area commenced in 2021. The exploration campaign supported the development of the Inferred Resource report, which was published in February 2023.

In August 2023, ABTC commenced its third drill programme to advance its Tonopah Flats Lithium Project.  The programme will help the project to advance to upgraded Measured and Indicated classifications.

Tonopah Flats Lithium Project Location

The Tonopah Flats Lithium Project is located in Big Smoky Valley near Tonopah town, Nevada. Primarily, it is situated in Esmeralda County.

Overall, the lithium property encompasses 517 unpatented federal mining lode claims across an area of 10,340 acres of land administered by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Geology and Mineralisation

The Tonopah Flats Project lies in a vast alluvial basin with subdued topography, between the San Antonio Mountains to the east and the Monte Cristo Mountains to the west.

It primarily features quaternary alluvial fan and pediment sedimentary deposits comprising silt, sand, and gravel.

Beneath the average 50ft alluvial cover lies a thick sequence of fluvial and lacustrine epiclastic volcanic conglomerate, sandstone, siltstone, claystone and tuff of the Miocene age Siebert Formation.

The lithium mineralisation is primarily found in the Siebert Formation claystone. The claystone thickness discovered in the project area exceeds 800ft.

Tonopah Flats Mineral Resource Estimate

According to the report published in February 2023, the lithium project is estimated to contain 15.8 million tonnes of economically accessible lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) in the inferred category.

The estimate was determined on the basis of a pit-constraint, conservative cut-off concentration of 300ppm Li that can support a 200,000 tonne per day of claystone processing rate.

Lithium Extraction

The Tonopah Flats Lithium project has the potential for open-pit mining.

ABTC has also developed extraction and purification processes that use selective leach extraction (SLE) and purification technologies to enable lithium extraction at a lower cost than conventional methods.

The use of new extraction processes will significantly lower chemical reagent utilisation, water consumption and reduce pollutant level in the resulting leach liquor.

ABTC plans to establish a 5,000-metric tonne (Mt) LiOH*H2O/year commercial processing plant at the resource site. The capacity will be eventually increased to 30,000Mt LiOH*H2O/year.


Tonopah is a historic mining town and it will offer access to key infrastructure such as electricity, water, and trained labour.

The Tonopah Flats Project is accessible by State Route 6-US Highway 95, which divides the property from southeast to northwest.

The Gabbs Pole Line Road is located near the property’s eastern boundary.

Power for the project operations will be supplied via high-voltage powerlines that extend along the Gabbs Pole Line Road and via lines that run along State Route 6-US Highway 95.

ABTC utilised metered municipal water from Tonopah for the initial exploration drilling and plans to continue using it in the future.


In 2021, ABTC, in collaboration with DuPont and the University of Nevada, received a $4.5m grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to build and operate a multi-tonne-per-day demonstration-scale system in order to expedite the commercialisation of critical battery-grade lithium manufacturing technology.

In October 2022, ABTC secured a $57m grant from DOE for a $115m commercial-scale primary lithium hydroxide manufacturing facility using Nevada-based sedimentary resources.

ABTC won an additional $10m competitive grant in November 2022 to demonstrate and commercialise new lithium-ion battery recycling processes to produce low-cost and low-environmental impact domestic battery materials.

Contractors Involved

RESPEC Company prepared the SK-1300 Compliant Inferred Resource Report for Tonopah Flats Lithium Project.

In April 2023, ABTC announced that it had signed a technical services agreement with Black & Veatch, a global critical infrastructure solutions provider, to support the design, construction, and commissioning of its commercial-scale lithium hydroxide manufacturing facility.

ABTC selected KB Drilling of Mound House, Nevada to collect infill and step-out samples from its third drill programme.