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Lithium Americas Corporation has flagged plans to increase the Phase 1 capacity at its Thacker Pass lithium project in Nevada, following an increase in the mineral resource estimate to 13.7-million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent.

The updated mineral resource estimate incorporates the Southwest basin, change in cut-off grade and additional drilling since the 2018 measured and indicated resource of 6-million tonnes.

Lithium Americas told shareholders that it was continuing to advance the ongoing feasibility study for the Thacker Pass project, targeting an increased initial production capacity to 40 000 t/y of lithium carbonate for the Phase 1 development, up from 30 000 t/y to 35 000 t/y previously considered.

The increased target capacity reflects optimizations to the mine plan and leaching efficiencies, maintaining the same proposed 3 000 t/d sulfuric acid plant and water usage.

The company is continuing to optimise engineering to complete the capital cost estimate and incorporate the impact of inflationary pressure, permit requirements and an increase in processing equipment.

In addition, Lithium Americas plans to include an expansion scenario to target total capacity of 80 000 t/y of lithium carbonate. The addition of a 40 000 t/y expansion, dubbed Phase 2, is designed to demonstrate Thacker Pass’ ability to scale production and align with potential customers’ and partners’ longer-term demands.

The Phase 2 expansion scenario would entail additional time required to amend and meet permitting requirements beyond Phase 1.

To meet potential customer and partner needs, the company is also continuing to advance engineering to consider an option for a 20 000 t/y lithium hydroxide chemical conversion plant.

“As the US electric vehicle supply chain continues to grow, we remain committed to developing Thacker Pass with all of our stakeholders’ interests in mind,” said president and CEO Jonathan Evans.

“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. With Thacker Pass moving closer towards 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.”