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Lithium mining research center opens in Tempe

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(The Center Square) – A lithium company celebrated the opening of a new research center in Tempe last week.

Arizona Lithium, which is hoping to further the “The Big Sandy” lithium mining project in northwestern Arizona, opened the center intending to research “extraction of lithium” methods for the local deposit as well as the Prairie Project in Canada, according to a news release from the Arizona Commerce Authority.

“The facility has been operational for a period of time and has hosted government and industry leaders, who have all been very impressed with the personnel and operations at the LRC,” Paul Lloyd, Managing Director, Arizona Lithium, said in a statement.

The ACA stated the center will provide 20 jobs on its own and is expected to help create “hundreds” of jobs at the project itself down the line. Arizona Lithium is technically from Australia, and it’s goal is “exploration” and “development,” according to its website.

Lloyd noted that the state government has been supportive of the company’s efforts.

“We strongly believe the LRC is critical to the company in order to test and optimize our Lithium processing technologies and ultimately produce Lithium from both of our major projects, Prairie and Big Sandy, in the most economic and sustainable manner,” he added.

Lithium is commonly used for batteries in products that can be charged like cell phones and laptops, according to the Department of Energy.

President and CEO of the ACA Sandra Watson touted the state’s mining industry with the news.

“We are proud to celebrate the grand opening of the Lithium Research Center,” Watson said in a statement. “Arizona Lithium marks yet another international company investing in Arizona, showcasing the state’s global attractiveness. The Tempe facility strengthens Arizona’s mining and materials industry and highlights our leadership in clean energy technologies, such as batteries.”

Mining has played a large role in the state’s economy for decades, particularly with copper. However, the project has received backlash from the Hualapai Tribe, saying it could interfere with religious practices, the Arizona Republic reported in March.

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