Lithium Americas Corp. celebrated the inauguration of its Lithium Technical Development Center (LiTDC) in Reno, Nevada, with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 20, 2022. The LiTDC will demonstrate the recovery methods that will be employed at the Thacker Pass project to produce lithium carbonate (Li2CO3).
The new 30,000 ft2 lithium process-testing facility commenced production as planned during June 2022, replicating the Thacker Pass flowsheet from raw ore to final product in an integrated process. So far, the facility has produced 5 kilograms of battery-quality Li2CO3. In addition to generating sample material, LiTDC will enable the team to optimize and de-risk each step of the flowsheet continually.
Lithium Americas said permitting and early-works construction at the Thacker Pass project, located in Humboldt County, Nevada, remain on track to commence in 2022. A request for proposal (RFP) has been issued from short-listed engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) firms to perform detailed engineering, execution planning and manage Thacker Pass’ construction.
“As we prepare to break ground on Thacker Pass, we have never lost sight of our broader responsibility in developing the largest and most advanced new source of lithium in the U.S.,” said Jonathan Evans, president and CEO of Lithium Americas. “We hope to play a meaningful role in securing a domestic supply of lithium to meet our country’s electrification needs, and we are committed to doing so in a manner that benefits the people of Nevada, Native Americans and the broader industry that has flourished in this state. Our new LiTDC will help cement Nevada’s place as a critical hub for battery development.”
LiTDC has been designed to conduct test work on new target ores and brines and contains a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory capable of analyzing ultra-pure lithium compounds. Lithium Americas and the University of Nevada-Reno are collaborating on this commercial work, while also educating the next generation of engineers and researchers who will play an essential role in curbing harmful carbon emissions.
Lithium Americas continues to advance a feasibility study targeting an initial production capacity to 40,000 metric tons per year (mt/y) of Li2CO3 (Phase 1) with a second stage expansion targeting a total production capacity of 80,000 mt/y (Phase 2). Capital costs are expected to substantially increase from the estimates in the 2018 pre-feasibility study. Results of the Feasibility Study are expected in the second half of 2022, to align with the strategic partnership and financing process and ongoing engineering and process testwork at the LiTDC.
In June 2022, the Nevada State Environmental Commission upheld the company’s approved Water Pollution Control Permit by denying an appeal in a 5-0 ruling. Cultural assessment and mitigation required as part of the ROD was successfully completed in mid-July by the company’s consultant and Tribe members. The archeological assessment and mitigation work is a key milestone in moving towards the commencement of construction.
A decision on the water rights transfer application by the state engineer to transfer the company’s existing and optioned water rights, which is expected to provide sufficient water for all of Phase 1, is anticipated in 2022. The company has recently commenced the process of negotiating additional water rights expected to be required for Phase 2 operations.