The Lithium Americas Corporation (TSX:LAC) has announced the opening of its new Technical Development Center in Nevada. The new center was built to demonstrate the chemical process designed for the company’s Thacker Pass lithium project. Last month, initial production successfully produced 5 kg of battery-quality lithium carbonate. This is a major step forward for Lithium Americas, as it continues to move towards the production of its lithium carbonate product.
Lithium carbonate is a key ingredient in the production of lithium-ion batteries, which are used in a wide range of applications including electric vehicles, laptops, and cell phones. The new Technical Development Center will allow Lithium Americas to further optimize the process flowsheet for the Thacker Pass project and produce larger quantities of lithium carbonate product.
This is not the only U.S. initiative to advance battery metal tech for the supply chain. Ford and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) announced an initiative to build out a mining and battery metals supply chain for electric vehicles that could help the automaker secure supplies at a time when demand is expected to surge. The two companies will work together to develop battery minerals including lithium, cobalt, and nickel in the United States and around the world.
The official opening of the Lithium Technical Development Center marks the beginning of a new period of test work and production. The facility is 2800m2 and the company will use it to test new target ores and brines. The Center has a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory which can analyze ultra-pure lithium compounds. For the commercial work done at the facility, Lithium Americas will work with UNV Reno.
The processing facility is fully commissioned and operational, with state and federal permits already in place, and so the company will move ahead with planned construction on the Nevada lithium operation. Jonathan Evans, president and CEO of Lithium Americas stated: “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.”
Thacker Pass is moving toward the feasibility phase of the project with a target initial production capacity of 40,000 tonnes of lithium carbonate per year. The project will then move to a second stage expansion with an annual production capacity target of 80,000 tonnes. The second half of 2022 should see the release of feasibility study results from the project.
Highlights from the Lithium Technical Development Center are as follows:
- Official opening of Lithium Technical Development Center. Inauguration of the Company’s 30,000 ft2 lithium process testing facility in Reno, Nevada.
- Facility commissioned and operating as planned. Production commenced in June 2022 to replicate Thacker Pass’ flowsheet from raw ore to final product in an integrated process.
- Lithium carbonate samples achieve battery-quality. Facility achieving battery-quality specifications with product samples being produced for potential customers and partners.
- Early-works construction on track to commence in 2022. Federal appeal moving forward with briefings scheduled to be complete August 11, 2022, and oral arguments and a final decision expected shortly thereafter. The Company has all permits to commence construction. During construction, Thacker Pass is expected to employ over 1,000 workers.
- Process underway to appoint engineering construction contractor. The Company has issued a request for proposal (“RFP”) from short-listed engineering, procurement and construction management firms (“EPCM”) to perform detailed engineering, execution planning and manage Thacker Pass’ construction.
- Cultural assessment work was successfully completed in mid-July. Members of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe (“Tribe”) were hired as cultural monitors to perform archeological mitigation work in collaboration with Far Western Anthropological Research Group.
- Completing carbon intensity and water utilization analysis. Analysis prepared with a leading international environmental engineering consulting firm indicates Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emission intensity per tonne of lithium carbonate produced from Thacker Pass’ process is expected to be competitive to South American-based brine operations and substantially lower than US and Australian-based spodumene operations.
- Continuing to advance Thacker Pass financing discussions. Formal application submitted to U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) in April 2022 through the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (“ATVM”) loan program which is expected to fund the majority of Thacker Pass’ capital costs.
Source: Lithium Americas