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he beginning of construction at Thacker Pass, in Nevada, is imminent, following last week’s favourable ruling on the record of decision and the closing of General Motors‘ (GM’s) initial investment, says CEO Jonathan Evans.

TSX- and NYSE-listed Lithium Americas on Thursday closed the initial tranche, an investment of $320-million, of its $650-million investment by GM. The second tranche will be invested in Lithium Americas’ US business, following the separation of that from the Argentina business in the second half of the year.

In connection with the initial closing, GM has purchased 15-million common shares of the company at $21.34 a share for gross proceeds of $320-million.

GM is now Lithium Americas’ largest shareholder and offtake partner. Lithium Americas continues to pursue a commitment from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program, which will help scale lithium production at Thacker Pass to support production of nearly one-million electric vehicles a year.

The Thacker Pass construction plan is targeting 80 000 t/y of battery-quality lithium carbonate production capacity in two phases of 40 000 t/y, respectively. Phase 1 production would start in the second half of 2026.

The 40-year life-of-mine contemplated at Thacker Pass uses less than 25% of the current measured and indicated mineral resource estimate of 16.1-million tonnes lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) at an average grade of 2 070 parts per million (ppm) lithium. The deposit has proven and probable mineral reserves of 3.7-million tonnes LCE at an average grade of 3 160 ppm.

The project will cost $2.27-billion for Phase 1 and $1.73-billion for Phase 2 and has a net present value, using an 8% discount, of $5.7-billion and a 21.4% internal rate of return. 

Thacker Pass is the biggest known lithium resource in the US that is fully permitted to begin construction