Lithium Americas Thacker Pass
Feb. 24, 2023 – A federal judge has sided again with the Biden administration and Canadian-based mining company Lithium Americas in a legal battle with environmentalists and tribal leaders seeking to block the mine at Thacker Pass.
The Associated Press US Judge Won’t Block Huge Lithium Mine on Nevada-Oregon Line
Western Watersheds Project Conservation Groups Ask Ninth Circuit to Block Destruction at Thacker Pass
The Associated Press 9th Circuit Denies Emergency Bid to Halt Nevada Lithium Mine
Common Dreams ‘A Truly Unfortunate Outcome’ as 9th Circuit Denies Injunction Against Nevada Lithium Mine
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Feb. 21, 2023 – Four environmental groups seek new emergency court order to appeal and block the Lithium Americas Thacker Pass mine.
The Associated Press New Emergency Bid to Appeal, Block Huge Nevada Lithium Mine
Western Watersheds Project Conservation Groups Seek Emergency Halt of Destructive Lithium Mine Pending Court Appeal
Common Dreams Green Groups, Indigenous Tribes Urge Courts to Block ‘Illegally Approved’ Lithium Mine
The Nevada Independent Tribes, Environmentalists Move to Block Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Construction
Reno News & Review Court Rules BLM Broke the Law in Approving Thacker Lithium Mine, but Rejects Other Claims
Feb. 18, 2023 – Three Tribes file new lawsuit challenging the Lithium Americas Thacker Pass mine.
This Is Reno Tribes Continue Fight Against Thacker Pass in New Federal Lawsuit
Nevada Current Three Tribes File New Lawsuit Challenging Thacker Pass Lithium Mine
Feb. 7, 2023 – Judge orders the government to revisit part of its environmental review of the Lithium Americas Thacker Pass mine and denied opponents’ effort to block the project. The plaintiffs are considering whether to appeal the ruling as they look for other ways to block the project.
Reuters U.S. judge orders waste rock study for Thacker Pass lithium project
The Nevada Independent Judge largely affirms federal permit for Thacker Pass lithium mine near Winnemucca
The Associated Press US judge refuses to block Nevada lithium mine construction
Nevada Current Thacker Pass lithium mine clears most legal challenges, minus a judge ordered waste rock review
Jan. 5, 2023 – Lithium Americas Judge Hears Arguments Challenging Federal Permit
District Court Judge Du heard arguments in the case challenging a federal permit for the Lithium Americas Thacker Pass lithium mine. Judge Du is interested in the applicability of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision on the Rosemont Mine.
Associated Press Biden agenda, lithium mine, tribes, greens collide in Nevada
Reuters Ruling in Thacker Pass lithium mine case expected within months
Nevada Current Ruling on fate of Thacker Pass expected ‘in next couple months’
Nevada Independent Fate of Thacker Pass lithium mine permit to be decided soon, with 1872 Mining Law a focus
December 12, 2022 – Lithium Americas Judge Throws Cold Water on Nevada Project
The Deep Dive “Federal Judge’s Comments Increase Skepticism That Lithium Americas’ Nevada Lithium Project Will Get Off the Ground”
Sept. 26, 2022 – The lawsuits continue to work through the Nevada District Court. The Native American resistance continues as well as work by Protect Thacker Pass activists. There are new calls for endangered species protection and new questions about Lithium America’s business ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Nevada Current “BLM’s rediscovery of massacre site renews calls for halt of lithium mine project”
ABC News “Endangered status sought for snail near Nevada lithium mine”
Protect Thacker Pass “Lithium Nevada Begins “Bulk Sampling” in What Attorney Calls “A Dirty Trick”
The Drill Down “THE CCP’S LITHIUM PLAY: Nevada Dems Back Mine That Will Enrich Our Biggest Enemy. Green Energy Push Means More Lithium Batteries — And Money for China.”
Fox News “Cotton questions Granholm over potential taxpayer funding for Communist China-linked lithium mine”
June 27, 2021 – Two federal lawsuits advance as a preliminary injunction halts groundwork. The activist camp remains occupied and Native American protests grow larger. The company CEO misses a meeting with the Secretary of Energy as the mining project proceeds.
The Edward Bartell and Bartell Ranch case, No. 3:21-cv-00080, filed Feb. 11,2021, continues to advance through the court. The case was filed in the United States District Court, District of Nevada, against the Bureau of Land Management alleging that the Thacker Pass lithium project imminently threatens private ranch lands and water rights with irreparable harm including fish, wildlife, wetlands and stream flows.
The Bartell case has events scheduled on the court calendar up through Dec. 1, 2021. Motions filed could extend the case past Dec. 1, 2021, and there is also the possibility of additional time for appeals.
The Western Watersheds Project, Great Basin Resource Watch, Basin and Range Watch and Wildlands Defense case, No. 3:21-cv-00103, filed Feb. 26, 2021, also continues to advance through the court. The case was also filed in the United States District Court, District of Nevada, against the Bureau of Land Management challenging the decisions of the Bureau of Land Management to approve the proposed Thacker Pass lithium mining project.
May 27, 2021, Western Watersheds Project, Great Basin Resource Watch, Basin and Range Watch and Wildlands Defense filed for a preliminary injunction in the United States District Court, District of Nevada, asking the court to prohibit construction of the Thacker Pass lithium mine.
Conservation and Public Accountability Groups Ask Court to Block Construction of the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine
Sierra Nevada Ally “Coalition of Groups Ask Court to Block Construction of the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine”
June 8, 2021, Western Watersheds Project, Great Basin Resource Watch, Basin and Range Watch and Wildlands Defense announced the Bureau of Land Management and Lithium Americas, Lithium Nevada Corporation committed in a court-enforceable stipulation to not conduct any ground disturbance activities in the Thacker Pass project area before July 29, 2021.
News Release: Digging Further Delayed at the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine Site
Sierra Nevada Ally “Lithium Nevada moves back the start of Thacker Pass mine construction”
In both lawsuits the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is the defendant and is represented by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Lithium Americas Lithium Nevada Corporation was not a party to the lawsuits, but they made themselves a party by joining with the defendant in resistance to the plaintiff’s claims. Lithium Nevada Corporation is listed in the cases as an intervenor defendant and is represented by Holland & Hart LLC, Reno, Nevada.
Should one or both cases end with a ruling that is detrimental to the Thacker Pass project it is conceivable that Lithium Nevada Corporation might file their own case against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management alleging that the ruling(s) violate their rights under the General Mining Law of 1872 and jeopardize the company investment in the Thacker Pass project.
Protect Thacker Pass
The Protect Thacker Pass activist camp has been continuously occupied since Jan. 15, 2021, and has a daily population that ranges from five to 80. Activists Will Falk and Max Wilbert continue to organize opposition to the mine project through social media that has attracted national and international support and media attention.
June 4, 2021, Extinction Rebellion Berlin stood in solidarity with the Protect Thacker Pass movement against Lithium Americas Thacker Pass lithium project while protesting in front of the Canadian Embassy in Berlin to save Okavango from oil and gas drilling.
Falk and Wilbert have also been interviewed several times and have had articles published about their concerns for Thacker Pass and the surrounding community. They have also helped plan and coordinate awareness campaigns, political engagement and protests.
The activists will continue to protest the mine and are prepared for physical confrontation should it become necessary. Additional information on the efforts by activists are reported in Protect Thacker Pass.
In a June 15, 2021, article on Global Conflicts Over Fossil Fuels, Nuclear and Alternative Energy by CounterPunch, the Thacker Pass project was listed as one of the 11 global conflicts discussed.
June 17, 2021, Earth Works published the report Just Minerals: Safeguarding protections for community rights, sacred places, and public lands from the unfounded push for mining expansion. In the report Thacker Pass is listed as one of nine locations that have been identified as a place at risk.
Native American Resistance
Several Native American tribes and communities have come together and continue to protest the Thacker Pass project. Daranda Hinkey, a Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone tribal member, provided an interview with Paul Feather in Finding Ourselves at Peehee Mu’huh: An Interview with Daranda Hinkey, published in CounterPunch.
Additional information on the efforts by local tribal communities has been published in these articles.
The Desert Guardian “America Still Colonizing at Thacker Pass”
Boulder Weekly “This place is sacred”
Nevada Current “Opposition to lithium mine grows among tribes, conservationists”
ESG Research points out in their report Mining Energy-Transition Metals: National Aims, Local Conflicts that key mines are located near Native American reservations.
Although most of these mines are not located on Native American reservations, people with a history of being forced onto settlements, many of which have been compressed over time, culturally significant areas are not limited to reserved lands.
Local cultures could be at risk as well as risks to investors. Local opposition increases risks that a mining asset could lose its approval to operate and its value to investors. The risks may be even greater since the new administration, in its election materials, has indicated that protection of Native American culture is a priority.
Tribal groups organized an event to protest the Thacker Pass project in Reno, Nevada, June 12, 2021. The event was scheduled to be held in the Believe Plaza across from the Reno City Hall from 6 to 8 p.m. The Sierra Nevada Alley published Thacker Pass lithium mine protest planned in Reno with information on the goals of the protest.
Shortly before the protest began AntiFash Reno, a group that performs antifascist research in Reno and the surrounding area, announced on social media that they were in “solidarity with Peehee Mu’huh (Thacker Pass) where Nuwu and Newe ancestral homelands are threatened with possible lithium mining,” and encouraged people to come out and support the event.
Shortly after the event ended the Reno Gazette Journal reported Hundreds gather in Reno to protest the proposed Thacker Pass lithium mine and posted several photos of the event on their website.
The Sierra Nevada Ally reported on the protest in Indigenous Peoples rally against Thacker Pass Lithium mine. Roughly 100 people attended in opposition to the mine with included a contingent of representatives from the American Indian Movement.
The American Indian Movement (AIM), founded by grassroots activists in Minneapolis in 1968, first sought to improve conditions for recently urbanized Native Americans. It grew into an international movement whose goals included the full restoration of tribal sovereignty and treaty rights. Through a long campaign of “confrontation politics,” AIM is often credited with restoring hope to Native peoples.
Mining Journal also covered the protest in their article Digging delayed at Thacker Pass as protestors hit Reno as did Reno News & Report in their article ‘Bad medicine’ at Thacker Pass – Indigenous Nevadans oppose lithium mine, disturbance of burials.
A protect Thacker Pass prayer run has been organized for the weekend of June 25 to 27. The run will be relay style and cover 143 miles with participants running day and night to Thacker Pass. The runners should arrive at Thacker Pass Sunday, June 27, 2021, at 4 p.m. More on the run can be seen at Protect Peehee Mu’huh.
Lithium Americas Company and Project Updates
S&P Global Market Intelligence spoke with Lithium Americas President and CEO Jon Evans about the Cauchari-Olaroz project in Argentina and the Thacker Pass project in Nevada.
Evans related that both assets have been under development for 10 years and the timing is right. The asset in Argentina is going to come online next year. The Thacker Pass project in northern Nevada is an untapped, massive resource that is going to be essential to meet market demand, not only globally, but even more importantly in North America, as the supply chains here are going to be put in place.
The Bureau of Land Management approved the Thacker Pass project in January, but the project continues to face opposition from environmental groups and residents. Evans said that the appeal is part of the record of decision approval process.
Evans is confident in the process that was conducted, and what is being appealed has been addressed in the final environmental impact statement. But it was not unexpected to have an appeal. Read more of the interview in Lithium Americas poised to meet growing demand.
June 14, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) hosted a virtual roundtable on the National Lithium Battery Blueprint. This roundtable focused on strengthening a domestic lithium battery supply chain that creates clean energy jobs while mitigating climate change.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm was joined by DOE’s Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Kelly Speakes-Backman, as well as eight members of the lithium battery industry.
Industry representatives scheduled to appear were Dr. Glen Merfeld CTO Albemarle, Jon Evans CEO Lithium Americas, Subra Herle Director Applied Materials, Chuck Sutton VP FBR Sales at REC Silicon, Doug Campbell CEO Solid Power, Lindsay Gorrill CEO KORE Power, Joseph Mendelson Senior Counsel Tesla, and JB Straubel CEO Redwood Materials.
During the roundtable, participants discussed the new “National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries 2021-2030,” which was released by the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries June 8, 2021.
The roundtable started and Jon Evans was announced as one of the participants, but Evans was not participating in the meeting. This created much surprise and concern for investors.
Investor anxiety increased when it was discovered that information that had been posted about Evan’s participation in the roundtable on social media was being deleted. This gave the appearance that Evans and the company were covering their tracks and deleting information that showed Evans was to be part of the roundtable.
This post on a company social media page was deleted and this post was deleted from Evan’s social media page which had announced Evan’s participation in the roundtable.
Some investors contacted the company asking why Evans did not participate in the roundtable as scheduled and then posted a copy of the communication on an investor community forum. Both the first response and the second response indicated that the absence of Evans was due to “unfortunate timing.”
An actual timing and scheduling issue can be easily understood and accepted. What makes this incident odd and concerning is that when Evans was supposed to be in the roundtable steps were being taken to delete posts from social media. This action does lend credence to the investor concern of the company covering their tracks for whatever reasons.
In this response to an investor from the company it was indicated “We hope to release a corporate update late this week or early next, watch for it on our social media channels.” No corporate update was provided during the indicated period and the reason for the absence of Evans from the roundtable and the deleting of the posts from social media remains a concerning mystery.
June 15, 2021, Fastmarkets talked with Evans about the Tacker Pass project. Evans related that regarding the court hearing for the injunction, this action was considered and is part of the overall construction schedule. The remaining permits from the state are expected to be received this year and the company is evaluation partnerships and financing opportunities. There was no mention as to why Evans missed the roundtable with Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and there is more on the interview from Fastmarkets at Lithium Americas on track to start Thacker Pass works in early 2022.
June 20, 2021, the Deep Dive published the article Lithium Americas’ Nevada Project Problems Highlights Value of Flagship Argentina Project. The article discusses the problems with lithium projects and the resistance the company is facing.
Also mentioned is the possibility that EV makers could decide that traditional nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries are preferable to those with a heavy lithium content and no cobalt or nickel. In that case, a lithium miner like Lithium Americas would be disadvantaged.
The court action in Nevada is described as both a negative and a positive for Lithium Americas. On the one hand, lithium production at its Thacker Pass facility will be delayed for some period. On the other hand, the situation in Nevada illustrates the difficulty of bringing a lithium mine to production. Since Lithium Americas Cauchari-Olaroz project in Argentina is now only a year from production that mine must be considered even more valuable.
Vice News Video “Going Green With Lithium Has Environmentalists Torn”
Earth Island Journal “The Rush for White Gold”
Nevada Independent “Biden administration releases report seeking to address tensions as metals needed for EVs, energy transition drive new mining”
U.S. Dept. of Energy Video – “U.S. Department of Energy Roundtable: A National Lithium Battery Blueprint”
Nevada Independent “‘We’re just somebody little:’ Amid plans to mine lithium deposit, Indigenous, rural communities find themselves at the center of the energy transition”
The Weston Forum “Lithium batteries – the Achilles heel of electric vehicles”
EcoFlight Video “Thacker Pass, NV – Proposed Lithium Mine – Virtual Tour
May 22, 2021 – Two federal lawsuits have been filed against the Bureau of Land Management regarding Lithium Americas proposed Thacker Pass lithium mining project. Activists with the Protect Thacker Pass movement continue to remain on the project site and widescale resistance against the lithium project intensifies.
Feb. 11, 2021, Edward Bartell and Bartell Ranch, LLC filed case No. 3:21-cv-00080 in the United States District Court, District of Nevada, against the Bureau of Land Management alleging that the Thacker Pass lithium project imminently threatens private ranch lands and water rights with irreparable harm including fish, wildlife, wetlands and stream flows.
In an article by Grist “The Battle of Thacker Pass” Bartell relates that when he first learned of the lithium project, he was somewhat excited about it. But as Bartell learned more about the project and process, he became increasingly worried about the impacts.
The Northern Nevada Business Weekly reported in their article “Lawsuit filed to block $1.3 billion Lithium Nevada mine project” that the Bureau of Land Management relied “entirely upon flawed and error-laden findings” in environmental assessments prepared by the mine’s own contractor, according to the lawsuit filed earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Reno.
Feb. 26, 2021, Western Watersheds Project, Great Basin Resource Watch, Basin and Range Watch and Wildlands Defense filed case No. 3:21-cv-00103 in the United States District Court, District of Nevada, against the Bureau of Land Management challenging the decisions of the Bureau of Land Management to approve the proposed Thacker Pass lithium mining project.
The Sierra Nevada Ally reported in their article “Second lawsuit filed over Thacker Pass lithium mine” that the Trump administration fast tracked National environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessments and mandated that environmental reviews be completed in less than one year. The Thacker Pass project was approved just days before the end of the Trump presidency.
Deseret News reports in “The rise of electric vehicles is disrupting life in a small Western community” that the lithium project created unlikely alliances as efforts to address climate change clash with the impacts of the project.
S&P Global Market Intelligence reported in their article “Environmentalists sue to block Lithium Americas’ Thacker Pass mine in Nevada” that the approval of the mine led to Lithium Americas equities increasing and gave way to a $400 million capital raise from an underwritten public offering with proceeds earmarked for the project.
Protect Thacker Pass
Activists Will Falk and Max Wilbert have continued to maintain a presence on the proposed Thacker Pass lithium project site since Jan. 15, 2021. KTVN News reports in “Activists Camp at Thacker Pass to Prevent Lithium Mine from Opening” that several people are currently camped at the site and up to 30 people visit on weekends.
March 22, 2021, activists with Protect Thacker Pass occupied the front steps of the corporate office of Lithium Americas, 900 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC. As reported in “Vancouver activists occupy Lithium Americas head office” and “Deep Green Resistance comes to Vancouver” the purpose was to bring awareness to lithium mining. “We want to make the public aware that lithium mining is extremely harmful to nature and even though lithium is an element destined for smartphones and electric cars, it’s extraction is the opposite of sustainable,” explains Nicola Rodriguez.
Additional information on the efforts by activists are reported in Protect Thacker Pass.
Native American Resistance
Resistance to the proposed lithium project is also coming from Native American communities. Native News Online reports “Lithium Mining Proposal in Northern Nevada Threatens Paiute and Shoshone Land.” The project is in traditional Paiute and Shoshone land and holds great ecological and cultural significance and the proposal to build an open-pit lithium mine threatens to disturb the area. The tribe also states that they did not get the opportunity to comment during the EIS’s commentary period.
The People of Red Mountain, a group of tribal descendants from Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone tribe have also united in the resistance to the project and have issued a statement indicating that they intend to stand up to the destruction of land, water, air, and life on ancestral homelands such as mining projects like Thacker Pass. “People of Red Mountain Statement of Opposition to Lithium Nevada Corp’s Proposed Thacker Pass Open Pit Lithium Mine.”
The Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe also formally resolved to cancel a Project Engagement Agreement with Lithium Americas, Lithium Nevada, citing threats to land, water, wildlife, hunting and gathering areas, and sacred sites. “Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe Cancels Agreement with Lithium Mine, Promising Lawsuit.”
Tribal members have also been highly active protesting on the site of the proposed lithium project as reported by the Sierra Nevada Ally “Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribal members protest Thacker Pass lithium mine” and “Native Americans converge at proposed Thacker Pass lithium mine site.”
The People of Red Mountain have also started a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help resist the proposed lithium project. “People of Red Mountain – Atsa koodakuh wyh Nuwu.”
Lithium Americas Company and Project Updates
Lithium Americas reports the remaining state permits and water right transfers required to commence construction at Thacker Pass could be issued later this year. The process testing facility in Reno, Nevada, has produced over 20,000 kg of lithium sulphate solution. Results of a feasibility study targeting an initial 30,000–35,000 tonnes per annum lithium carbonate equivalent of capacity for the first phase is also expected later this year. The company is advancing engineering to consider a 20,000 tonnes per annum lithium hydroxide chemical conversion plant to have flexibility to meet potential customer and partner needs.
Lithium Americas continues to expand the engineering and technical team at Thacker Pass with over 30 professionals focused on advancing the project toward the start of construction expected to begin in early 2022. The company continues to evaluate partnership and financing opportunities for Thacker Pass to advance and de-risk the project.
Alexi Zawadzki , the CEO of Lithium Nevada, a company of Lithium Americas, published an opinion article in the Sierra Nevada Ally “Lithium Nevada Corp’s CEO explains the benefits of the Thacker Pass Lithium Project.”
Jon Evans, the CEO of Lithium Americas, recently appeared on Yahoo Finance and discussed his outlook to produce lithium in the United States “Lithium Americas CEO on his outlook for U.S. lithium production.”
January 2021 Evans spoke with BNN Bloomberg to discuss partnerships “Lithium Americas CEO open to partnerships for Thacker Pass Mine” and February 2020 Evans spoke with BNN Bloomberg to discuss the sale of a majority stake of its Cauchari-Olaroz project in Argentina to a Chinese partner “Lithium Americas CEO: We’ll make money despite price slump.”
High Country News “Nevada lithium mine kicks off a new era of Western extraction”
Vice News “Inside the Lithium Mining War That Could Poison the Nevada Desert’s Water”
Sierra Nevada Ally “How corporations work to undermine grassroots resistance, and how to stop them”
Reno News & Review “The lithium paradox”
The New York Times “The Lithium Gold Rush: Inside the Race to Power Electric Vehicles”
Forbes India “The lithium gold rush: Inside the race to power electric vehicles”
John M. Glionna “Thacker Pass and the battle over dirty Green technology”
Jan. 28, 2021 – The United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Lithium Americas Corporation’s Thacker Pass lithium project in Nevada Jan. 15, 2021.
“The publication of the Final EIS is the culmination of more than a decade of work studying, exploring and developing the Thacker Pass project,” commented Jon Evans, President and CEO.
Lithium Americas also announced the closing of its underwritten public offering of shares of its common stock for gross proceeds to the company of approximately US$400 million. Work at the mine site is expected to begin the first quarter of 2021.
The approval of the Lithium Americas Thacker Pass project has also attracted the attention of environmental activists who have now established a protest at the site location.
On Friday, Jan. 15, two activists drove eight hours from Eugene, Oregon, to a remote corner of public land in Nevada, where they pitched a tent in below-freezing temperatures and unfurled a banner declaring: “Protect Thacker Pass.” You’ll be forgiven if you’ve never heard of the place—it’s seriously in the boonies—but these activists, Will Falk and Max Wilbert, hope to make it into a household name.
The protesters have also published a website detailing their cause and efforts called Protect Thacker Pass. The activity by the protesters has caught the attention of the media and the group has been interviewed on KPFA radio in Berkley, California as well as other environmental podcasts.
Jan. 25, 2021, the Sierra Nevada Ally published an opinion article by protester Max Wilbert “Green Lithium Mining is a Bright Green Lie. Dispatches from Thacker Pass.” Wilbert is listed as an organizer, writer, and wilderness guide and has been part of grassroots political work for nearly 20 years.
The Northern Nevada Business Weekly filed this report on the mine approval and protest occupation and the Reno Gazette Journal filed this report “Conservationists, energy producers clash over Nevada ‘clean energy’ lithium mine”.
Sept. 19, 2020 – The Sierra Nevada Ally published an article Aug. 28, 2020, recapping the status of Thacker Pass project. The report included the economic benefits of the project and that it has support from Nevada lawmakers.
The article also includes reaction from residents who are concerned about changes to the area and possible negative impacts to water and the environment. The Great Basin Resource Watch, a Nevada based nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the environment, also voiced their concerns.
The Elko Daily Free Press published an article Sept. 3, 2020, which also reported the concerns from local ranchers. Also reported is the relationship the parent company of the Thacker Pass project, Vancouver, Canada, based Lithium Americas, has with the Chinese based Gangfeng Lithium company.
Sept. 16, 2020, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) announced that it approved abatements for Lithium Nevada Corporation’s Thacker Pass project.
GOED stated that Lithium Nevada Corp. is currently designing and permitting for the chemical manufacturing of high purity lithium chemicals as a byproduct of mineral processing in Thacker Pass in northern Humboldt County. The company will invest $514.3 million in the project, creating 113 jobs at an average wage of $37.84 per hour in the first two years of operation. Additionally, GOED estimates this will create more than 2,800 construction jobs. They received a 2% sales tax abatement for two years that is worth $5 million, a 50% modified busines tax abatement for four years that is worth $225,614 and a 50% personal property tax abatement for 10 years that is worth $3.38 million.
July 30, 2020 – The Thacker Pass Project is located within the McDermitt Caldera in Humboldt County in northern Nevada, approximately 60 miles north of Winnemucca, approximately 20 miles northwest of Orovada, Nevada, and 20 miles south of the Oregon border. It is situated at the southern end of the McDermitt Caldera and encompasses approximately 8,320 acres.
Chevron began exploring the McDermitt Caldera in 1975 for uranium. Early in Chevron’s program, the United States Geological Survey alerted Chevron to the presence of irregular concentrations of lithium associated with the caldera. Chevron added lithium to its assays in 1978 and 1979, started a clay analysis program, and obtained samples for engineering work, while uranium remained the primary focus of exploration. Most of the project area was surveyed by airborne gamma ray spectrometry.
Between 1980 and 1987 Chevron began a drilling program that focused on lithium targets and conducted extensive metallurgical testing to determine the viability of extracting lithium from the clays. The results confirmed high lithium concentrations.
Chevron leased many of the claims that included the lithium to the J. M. Huber Corporation in 1986. In 1991, Chevron sold its interest in the claims to Cyprus Gold Exploration Corporation. In 1992, Huber terminated the lease. Cyprus Gold Exploration Corporation allowed the claims to lapse and provided much of the exploration data to one of the prior claim owners. Western Energy Development Corporation, a Nevada corporation, leased the claims in 2005 and was given access to the Chevron data and core samples that were available.
Between 2007 and 2011, Western Lithium USA Corporation conducted an exploration program that focused on the southern portion of the McDermitt Caldera. Of 232 drilled exploration holes, 198 cores were assayed. The results of the assay analysis indicated the presence of an anomalously high-grade lithium deposit. A survey was completed using a Trimble Global Positioning System and the surface area was mapped by aerial photography.
The project has been in active development since 2008 and was operated by Western Lithium USA Corporation until 2015 when it merged with Lithium Americas Corporation. In March 2016, Western Lithium USA Corporation adopted the Lithium Americas Corporation name and renamed the Nevada-based subsidiary Lithium Nevada Corporation.
Lithium Nevada Corporation conducted an exploration program in 2017 to identify a resource of scale in the Thacker Pass area, where sage grouse habitat quality is substantially lower than in the Montana Mountains to the north. In Thacker Pass, 77 exploration holes were drilled, a seismic survey was conducted, and the surface geology of the project was remapped. The results indicated a larger lithium deposit than was previously identified.
The Thacker Pass project is 100% owned by Lithium Americas Corporation and there has been no commercial lithium production from the property. Through a subsidiary company, Lithium Americas Corporation does operate a hectorite clay mine on the property that produces hectorite clays for industrial purposes. The facility consists of a small open pit and small outbuilding.
Nov. 19, 2018, The Northern Miner reported Lithium Americas Thacker Pass deposit is the largest lithium clay project in the world with a mine life of 46 years. The company has just begun the permitting process and expects to start building the first phase of the project by the end of 2020, with lithium production beginning in 2022.
Aug. 30, 2019, Mining Technology reported that the Thacker Pass lithium project was one of the “Top ten biggest lithium mines in the world.” The article stated that mine is estimated to contain proven and probable reserves of 179.4Mt containing 3.1Mt of lithium carbonate equivalent and has an estimated mine life of 46 years. The pre-feasibility study was completed August 2018, which proposed the two-phase mine development using open-pit methods. Phase one is expected to be commissioned in 2022 with a production capacity of 30,000tpa of battery-grade material while phase two will increase the capacity to 60,000tpa with a commissioning date of 2026.
Lithium Americas Thacker Pass Project Plan of Operations was submitted to the Bureau of Land Management August 2019 and accepted September 2019. The Bureau of Land Management published a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to analyze the proposed Thacker Pass Lithium Mine project in the Federal Register Jan. 21, 2020. The public scoping period opened Jan. 21, 2020, and closed Feb. 27, 2020.
Jan. 31, 2020, the Northern Nevada Business Weekly reported in the article “$1.3 billion Lithium Nevada project on track for 2020 milestones” that the Bureau of Land Management has started their 12-month approval process. If the project is approved the company projects operations will create approximately 1,000 jobs during construction of the $1.3 billon facility and will employ more than 285 people upon completion.
In recent company newsletters Lithium Americas reported that they have been running bulk ore through its new process research facility located in Reno, Nevada, since early 2019. The facility contains pilot-scale equipment representing key unit operations of the lithium extraction process. To date, over 20 tons of ore have been processed at the facility, generating essential data to be used for engineering and design of the full-scale plant.
Lithium Nevada maintains Thacker Pass project offices in Winnemucca and Reno, Nevada. The parent company, Lithium Americas, is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.
July 29, 2020, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) analyzing the potential impacts of the proposed Thacker Pass Lithium Project. If approved, the project would develop lithium reserves within the Thacker Pass deposit, the largest and highest-grade known sedimentary deposit of this critical mineral in the United States, and the second largest in the world.
The BLM also published the Notice of Availability (NOA). The public comment period is open and will close Sept. 14, 2020. Public meetings for this project will be held Aug. 19 and 20 online through a webinar platform due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Globe Newswire also published an article about the announcement.
Lithium Americas Thacker Pass on Google Maps
Thacker Pass Site Tour on YouTube
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