Government support, electric vehicle growth is leading to a new kind of jobs boom in Nevada

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 12:16 AM PST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The growth of Tesla and electric vehicles is leading to more Nevada jobs in manufacturing and mining.

Our technology lifeline relies on lithium, which is the major ingredient in batteries. Nevada is the only state in the country that mines for the mineral.

“Here in Nevada what you’re seeing right now is about a decade’s worth of work starting to come to fruition,” Nevada Mining Association President Tyre Gray said.

There’s one active lithium mine in Nevada, but two more could open in rural parts of the state in the next five years. That includes the Ioneer mine, which recently secured a conditional $700 million loan from the U.S. Energy Department.

“Lithium is really going to be the way that we power the green future that we all want,” Gray said.

“Whether it’s closing the lithium loop, unlocking innovation and investment in logistics, entertainment, science and technology, or embracing entrepreneurship, the message is that Nevada is ready to partner,” Governor Joe Lombardo said in his first State of the State speech Monday night.

Lombardo said he looked forward to joining Elon Musk and Tesla when they unveiled plans to build a brand new $3.5 billion advanced manufacturing facility.

Tesla confirmed the announcement. They plan to build on their gigafactory in Sparks, which they said produces enough battery cells for half a million vehicles per year.

One new factory will focus on energy cells and the other will be the first large-scale factory for building semi-trucks.

“Our ability to have a domestic supply chain of lithium particularly when we have the Tesla gigafactory only makes sense,” Gray said.

Gray said the perception many have of mining is outdated and likens it to a high-tech industry.

“Whether you have a GED or PHD we have a job for you in mining, and it is a high paying job,” Gray said.

The industry is looking to fill jobs quickly. He said about 2,000 positions are currently available. They are largely in rural parts of the state, but the association said it’s actively recruiting talent from the Las Vegas valley.

Researchers at UNLV’s school of business found there are about 9,000 jobs that have to do with the lithium industry in Nevada. However, it’s believed that number could triple by 2030.

Last year FOX5 visited a battery manufacturing plant in Henderson called Lithion. Like most companies in the battery space it too is actively hiring and growing.

“The interesting thing about the battery industry is it’s so very new that it’s difficult to hire anyone with experience in the battery industry,” Lithion’s production manager Nhan Thai said. “So we’re willing to train any applicant that’s willing to learn.”

Gray said they’re looking to increase mining of other minerals in the state too. That includes copper, silver and gold. It’s all in an effort to meet the growing energy needs of Nevada and the rest of the United States.