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SPECIAL REPORT: Lithium Boom in the Imperial Valley

How one company is wanting to pour back into the community - 13 On Your Side's Anchor, Vince Ybarra reports

CALIPATRIA, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Lithium has become a hot commodity in recent years. The Salton Sea is home to this precious mineral. EnergySource Minerals is one of the companies in Calipatria that wants to give back to the community in a meaningful way.

“We actually wanna have and make a big difference for the people here,” said EnergeySource Minerals Senior Process Engineer, Saul Lopez.

That is just one of the many messages from EnergySource Minerals. It's a company based in Calipatria, extracting lithium from the Salton Sea. Lithium is a mineral that can be used to manufacture electric car batteries.

“California is blessed that in this part of the world, the lithium is abundantly here for us to develop and bring it to the world,” said Fiorella Sist, Manager of Engineering of EnergySource Minerals.

EnergySource Minerals is building a new facility in Calipatria.

“It’s going to cost about a billion dollars for us to build this facility,” said EnergySource Minerals Chief Financial Officer Carmen Rene.

Rene said it spent $1 billion in addition to money already spent on technology.

Once it’s up and running, the company plans to ship out its first batch of lithium by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025.

Lopez, who was born and raised in the Imperial Valley, said the company wants to take this huge investment and pour it back into the community.

“We don’t really want to bring out folks from other places,” said Lopez.

The company is working with Imperial Valley College (IVC) to hire students interested in this type of manufacturing work.

“IVC has been working the lithium companies for almost nine months and developing the curriculum for the programs and the workforce needs for the operation,” said Efrain Silva, Dean of Economic and Workforce Development at IVC.

By the summer of 2024, about 90 students will complete the one-year certification at IVC and be ready to enter the workforce.

Lopez says locals have an opportunity to be part of something bigger. “It’s not just us, it’s gonna be across the world. We’re trying to help out cause we’re trying to help the world,”. Lopez recently traveled to Argentina to oversee a project there.

California Manufactures & Technology Association CEO, Lance Hastings, said EnergySource Minerals is paving a way for this lithium project.

“Well EnergySource, they’re so forward-looking and they have an opportunity and they’ve figured out their role in what the future economy could look like,” said Hastings.

CEO and President of EnergySource Minerals, Eric Spomer, gave me a tour of the facility. He takes great pride in the work being done.

“I think we’re doing more good by making this a lithium plant,” said Spomer.

EnergySource Minerals said it is only scratched the surface of the lithium boom.

“Once we untap the potential here at the Salton Sea, we can do another one. Right, we’ve opened up the door for either ourselves to do another project or for another operator to come in and be successful,” said Rene.

To learn more about EnergySource Minerals, click here.

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Vince Ybarra

Vince Ybarra joined KYMA in June 2021 and is a CBS 13 anchor.

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