Landscape at Thacker Pass. Credit: Lithium Americas
Lithium Americas (TSX: LAC) (NYSE: LAC) announced Thursday it has kicked off construction at its 100%-owned Thacker Pass lithium project in Humboldt County, Nevada, following the receipt of notice to proceed from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The announcement follows a federal court ruling from February rejecting claims that the project would cause “unnecessary harm to the environment or wildlife”, which delayed the mine’s construction after it was originally approved by former US President Donald Trump in 2021.
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Construction commenced following a favorable court ruling in February for the issuance of the record of decision, which confirmed the permitting process for Thacker Pass was conducted “thoroughly and responsibly.”
“Starting construction is a momentous milestone for Thacker Pass and one we have been working towards for over a decade,” Lithium Americas CEO Jonathan Evans said in a news release.
“We are excited about the prospect of generating economic growth in Northern Nevada and playing a major role in the domestic lithium supply chain for electric vehicles.”
Thacker Pass is targeting 80,000 tonnes per annum of battery-quality lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) production capacity in two phases of 40,000 tonnes. Phase 1 production is expected to commence in the second half of 2026. The project is expected to create 1,000 jobs during construction and 500 jobs during operations.
Major earthworks have been awarded, Lithium Americas said, with activities expected to begin in the second half of 2023.
The proposed mine has the potential to be North America’s largest source of lithium for electric vehicle batteries and would support US President Joe Biden’s efforts to reduce dependence on Chinese supplies for the metal.
Measured and indicated mineral resources at Thacker Pass are estimated at 385 million tonnes averaging 2,917 parts per million (ppm) lithium for 6 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). Inferred resources are 147 million tonnes averaging 2,932 ppm for 2.3 million tonnes of LCE.
In January, General Motors announced that it would invest $650 million in Lithium Americas to help develop the project, the largest investment by an automaker to produce battery raw materials to date.
Shares of Lithium Americas were down 4.3% by 12:15 p.m. ET following the construction announcement, giving the Vancouver-based miner a market capitalization of C$4.2 billion ($3.1bn).