VANCOUVER, Canada – Lithium Nevada Corp.’s Thacker Pass lithium claystone project is continuing to make progress, and a notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the project was published by the Bureau of Land Management on Jan. 21.
The Thacker Pass project is near Orovada in northern Humboldt County. It is 100 percent owned by Lithium Nevada, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lithium Americas.
“The initiation of the EIS process by the BLM is a major accomplishment and milestone toward developing Thacker Pass as a low-cost and environmentally responsible source of lithium chemicals in the US,” said Jonathan Evans, Lithium Americas’ president and CEO. “This achievement, which commences a mandated 12-month process to complete the EIS, was a team effort that required the coordination and commitment from the Bureau of Land Management, local and state government agencies, our partners and the team at Lithium Nevada.”
“The Thacker Pass Project is being engineered to produce low-cost, battery-quality lithium products reliably and at scale; however, the environmental design is a point of pride for the project team,” said Alexi Zawadzki, CEO of Lithium Nevada. “Our goal is to produce the first carbon neutral lithium products, representing an innovative benchmark in the industry. Our vision is for a more sustainable battery supply chain in the US, with cathode and cell manufacturing located in close proximity to the proposed Thacker Pass mine site.”
Lithium Americas hopes to begin construction on Thacker Pass in early 2021.
During the proposed two-year construction and commissioning period, it is anticipated that approximately 1,000 jobs will be created. Approximately 350 high-paying jobs are anticipated during Phase 1 operations.
According to Lithium Americas, the proposed Thacker Pass mining and metallurgical process is being designed to achieve or exceed carbon-neutral scope 1 emissions status as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. The low carbon footprint is expected partially due to the unique nature of the ore, which requires low energy to extract, beneficiate and process.
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Also, the process is being designed so heat from the exothermic process will be captured to generate carbon-free electricity and steam. The cogeneration facility is expected to provide enough electricity to operate the plant and mine with the potential for excess electricity to be sold to the grid. Carbon-free steam is expected to be used in the plant.
Also, solar power generation and electric trucks are being evaluated to further reduce carbon emissions beyond Scope 1.
Lithium Americas said that through innovative design, Thacker Pass is being developed as a potential model of sustainability in the extraction and processing of critical minerals required for a low-carbon economy. Many years of environmental monitoring data was collected and used to locate project infrastructure in areas of lowest environmental impact.
The sound and air emissions control systems have been engineered to use the best available technology, resulting in a design that exceeds regulatory requirements, according to Lithium Americas.
Within the proposed processing facility, water recycling is expected to be employed throughout to minimize consumption. Phase 1 will require approximately the same amount of water as 2-3 alfalfa irrigation pivots.
Lithium Americas said it has engaged with local stakeholders throughout the project definition and design process in a transparent consultation process. Several open houses have been held since 2017, with more scheduled in 2020. A Project Engagement Agreement with the local Fort McDermitt Tribe continues to be in place to ensure that tribal members are fully engaged and informed of the project, including employment and training opportunities prior to proposed construction and operations.
The Great Basin Sagebrush Restoration Fund founded by Lithium Americas and the University of Nevada, Reno Foundation is now the largest research fund of its kind in the US. Progress continues in 2020 on developing innovative sagebrush restoration technologies in including coated seeds, genetics and restoration modeling.