US agrees loan for $2.9bn lithium complex in remote Nevada

Approaching Thacker Pass in Humboldt County, Nevada. The site has the biggest measured and indicated lithium deposit in North America, and will be developed to supply electric-vehicle batteries (Famartin/CC BY-SA 3.0 Deed)
Lithium Americas Corporation has received a conditional commitment from the US Department of Energy for a $2.26bn loan under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program to fund construction of a lithium carbonate-processing complex at Thacker Pass, Humboldt County, Nevada.

The remote site has the biggest measured and indicated lithium deposit in North America.

The company aims to produce 40,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate a year in its first phase for use in electric-vehicle batteries.

That’s eight times the annual output of the biggest lithium mine now in the US, at Silver Peak, Nevada.

Lithium Americas said Thacker Pass Phase 1 could supply lithium for up to 800,000 electric vehicles a year.

General Motors agreed to invest $650m in the Thacker Pass venture in return for exclusive access to the lithium carbonate from phase 1 for up to 15 years.

Lithium Americas estimates the complex will cost $2.93bn to build, and it aims to start producing lithium carbonate in 2027.

It said 1,800 direct jobs would be created for the facility’s three-year construction. Bechtel won the engineering, procurement and construction management contract in late 2022.

Owing to the site’s remoteness, temporary housing for workers will be set up in the small city of Winnemucca, some 64 miles to the south of Thacker Pass.

Bechtel and Lithium Americas have signed a project labour agreement with North America’s Building Trades Unions for the work.

“The United States has an incredible opportunity to lead the next chapter of global electrification in a way that both strengthens our battery supply chains and ensures that the economic benefits are directed toward American workers, companies and communities,” said Jonathan Evans, president and chief executive of Lithium Americas.

As GCR reported earlier this month, construction spending on new factories in the US more than doubled in 2023 compared with 2022 as legislation introduced by the Biden administration led to a surge in investment.

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