Lithium Americas Expands Resource at Thacker Pass; US closes gap on China’s dominance
Lithium America’s provided an update on its Thacker Pass lithium project in Humboldt County, NV, reporting an increase in the mineral resource estimate to 13.7 Mt (15.1 million st) of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) grading 2,231 parts per million lithium (ppm Li) of measured and indicated (M&I) and 4.4 Mt (4.8 million st) of LCE grading 2,112 ppm Li of inferred resources.
The company said permitting is on track and that it expects a final decision in first quarter of 2022. “All key State permits are expected to be released for public comment in Q4 2021. At the Federal level, a court hearing on the appeal of the Record of Decision is expected to take place in February 2022, with the ruling to follow shortly thereafter,” the company wrote in its update.
The initial Phase 1 targeted capacity has been increased from 30 kt-35 kta (33,000 to 38,500 stpy) to reflect the optimized mine plan and leaching efficiencies, with the proposed 3 kt/d (3,300 stpd) sulfuric acid plant unchanged, the company said.
A feasibility study for second phase to target an additional 40 kt/a (44,000 stpy) capacity is also being done to target a total capacity of 80 kt/a (88,000 stpy) to meet potential demand. The company expects to provide an update on timing of the Feasibility Study by early 2022 to align with the strategic partnership process and ongoing engineering work.
“As the U.S. electric vehicle supply chain continues to grow, we remain committed to developing Thacker Pass with all of our stakeholders’ interests in mind,” said Jonathan Evans, president and chief executive officer. “This includes ensuring we move the right project forward to align Thacker Pass with the growing needs of our potential customers and strategic partners.
“The world needs more large-scale and environmentally responsible lithium projects to enable the clean energy transition,” added Evans. “With Thacker Pass moving closer toward construction, in Argentina our team remains focused on bringing the Caucharí-Olaroz lithium brine project online in the next twelve months as the largest new lithium carbonate operation in over 20 years.”
The update comes as BloombergNEF reports that the United States is closing the gap China’s dominance of the $46 billion lithium-ion battery industry.
The United States rose to second place in BloombergNEF’s global lithium-ion battery supply chain ranking for this year and for a 2026 projection. Bloomberg credits investments from Tesla Inc and efforts by the Biden administration to push for the growth of electric vehicles.
The U.S. was sixth for 2020 in last year’s inaugural ranking. The US has the second-largest EV market globally, after China, and Tesla and Asian cell makers are making “significant” investments in the country as government policies help establish a domestic battery supply chain.