Lithium Americas Corp. said construction has commenced at its Thacker Pass lithium project in Humboldt County, Nevada, USA, following the receipt of a notice to proceed from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

“Starting construction is a momentous milestone for Thacker Pass and one we have been working toward for over a decade,” said Jonathan Evans, president, and CEO, Lithium Americas. “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 metric tons per year (mt/y) of battery-quality lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) production capacity in two phases of 40,000 mt/y, respectively. Phase 1 production is expected to commence in the second half of 2026.

Current construction activities include site preparation, geotechnical drilling, water pipeline development and associated infrastructure. Contracts for major earthworks have been awarded with activities expected to commence in the second half of 2023. In Q4 2022, Bechtel Corp. was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the construction of Thacker Pass Phase 1 with detailed engineering underway.

Aquatech International LLC has been awarded the contract for the magnesium sulfate and lithium carbonate chemical and purification plants. EXP Global Inc. has been awarded the contract for EPC support, commissioning and start-up services for the sulfuric acid plant. MECS, Inc. was awarded the contract for the technology license, engineering and equipment for its heat recovery system, to harness waste heat to generate steam which will subsequently be converted into carbon-free electricity for the processing plant. Contract selection and engineering for a Work Force Hub (housing for construction contractors) and transloading facility within the Winnemucca area have also started.

All of this activity follows a favorable ruling from the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada for the issuance of the Record of Decision (ROD), where the Federal Court confirmed the permitting process for Thacker Pass was conducted thoroughly and responsibly. The Federal Court declined to vacate the ROD and ordered the BLM to consider one issue under the mining law relating to the area designated for waste storage and tailings and did not impose any restrictions expected to impact the construction timeline. The company said it is working closely with the BLM to complete the required follow-up and does not expect it to impact the overall construction timeline.