CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — University of Wyoming researchers say they have discovered lithium near Rock Springs.

The lithium was found while researchers were studying the idea of storing carbon dioxide underground in southwest Wyoming.

Ron Surdam of the UW Carbon Management Institute says researchers estimate there could be up to 18 million tons of lithium in a 2,000-square-mile area.

A lithium commodity specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey says the find could be significant because there is only one lithium mining operation in the United States.

But Brian Jaskula says extracting lithium in Wyoming depends on how economically it can be done.

UW researchers suggest lithium mining could piggyback with a carbon sequestration operation.

Lithium is a key ingredient in lithium-ion batteries, which are found mainly in cellphones, laptops and other electronics.