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Lithium Americas begins construction at Thacker Pass

Lithium Americas Corp. has begun construction at its 100%-owned Thacker Pass lithium project in Humboldt County, Nevada, following the receipt of notice to proceed from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Construction at Thacker Pass commenced following the favorable ruling from the US 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 is working closely with the BLM to complete the required follow-up and does not expect it to impact the overall construction timeline. (Earlier post.)

Thacker Pass is targeting 80,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of battery-quality lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) production capacity in two phases of 40,000 tpa, respectively (“Phase 1” and “Phase 2”).

Phase 1 production is expected to commence in the second half of 2026. The project is expected to create 1,000 jobs during construction and 500 jobs during operations.

Construction, including site preparation, geotechnical drilling, water pipeline development and associated infrastructure, has commenced. Contracts for major earthworks have been awarded with activities expected to commence in the second half of 2023.

In Q4 2022, Bechtel Corporation was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contract for the construction of Thacker Pass Phase 1 with detailed engineering underway.

Major construction contracts awarded include:

  • Lithium Carbonate and Purification. Aquatech International LLC has been awarded the contract for the magnesium sulfate and lithium carbonate chemical plants. Established in 1981 and based in Philadelphia, Aquatech is a global leader in water purification technology for industrial and infrastructure markets with a focus on desalination, water recycling and reuse, and zero liquid discharge (ZLD).

  • Sulfuric Acid Plant. EXP Global Inc. has been awarded the contract for the engineering, procurement, construction support, commissioning and start-up services for the sulfuric acid plant. Established in 1906 and operationally headquartered in Chicago, EXP is a global leader in oil, gas and chemicals.

  • MECS, Inc. was awarded the contract for the technology license, engineering and equipment for their state-of-the-art MECS 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 commenced.


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