Nevada is teaming up with Canada’s most-populated province in hopes of boosting economic development opportunities in the modern-day gold rush for lithium.

Gov. Joe Lombardo and Ontario Premier Doug Ford signed a memorandum of understanding this week aimed at boosting trade and investments in lithium extraction and green energy development between the Silver State and the Canadian province.

“This agreement is based on our region’s strong mining sectors,” Lombardo said in a statement. “It is in the mutual best interests of Nevada and Ontario to cooperate and work together to expand our economic partnership. Working together we can maximize emerging export opportunities.”

Lithium is a key mineral used in the production of electric vehicle batteries and is at the heart of the transition to a decarbonized transportation sector.

Nevada is home to the only operating lithium mine in the United States — Silver Peak, located near Goldfield. A second mine, Thacker Pass, is set to start extracting the silvery-white metal within months. Thacker Pass is located in an area that scientists believe is home to the world’s largest known deposit of lithium in the world.

Several other lithium projects have been proposed throughout Nevada, but many have faced criticism and legal slowdowns from environmental groups who have sued over concerns that extraction of lithium could cause significant and irreparable damage to the surrounding areas, such as disturbing groundwater flows that support numerous federally protected plant and animal species.

Lombardo called that a “decade-old mentality when we talk about environmental damage” when asked about those concerns in an interview with a Canadian television station this week.

The agreement between Nevada and Ontario focuses on the development of lithium mining, battery and electric vehicle technologies, renewable and green energy development, and storage and supply chain strategies, according to a news release from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

“This new agreement will help Ontario and Nevada attract new investments and provide businesses and entrepreneurs opportunities for new markets for their products and services,” Ford, the Ontario premier, said in a statement. “Our government is hard at work, developing new economic partnerships with jurisdictions across North America and around the world to create new jobs and a stronger, more resilient economy.”

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