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US DoE lends Lithum Americas $2.26 bn to get Nevada mine up and running

Image: Lithium Americas

Mining company Lithium Americas announced it will get up to $2.26 billion in loans from the US Department of Energy (DoE) to build its Thacker Pass lithium project in Nevada, USA.

The money, sanctioned under the US Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program, is one of America's largest fundings till date in the country's mining industry. It comes as part of a government push to boost output of critical minerals necessary for the energy transition, reducing dependence on China. 

Construction is expected to take up to three years, allowing the mine to start operating later this decade, with an estimated start date in 2028. The first phase of the mine is expected to generate 40,000 tonnes of battery-quality lithium carbonate a year, enough to create batteries that would power up to 800,000 electric vehicles.

The Thacker Pass mine will be a key supplier to General Motors, which last year invested $650 million in Lithium Americas and became the company's largest shareholder.

GM has scaled back its EV ambitions, but continues to transition put of fossil fuels, saying it will end manufacturing of conventional vehicles by 2035. The company last year acquired Tooling & Equipment International, a key gigacasting supplier for Tesla, and ramped-up its battery play with an investment in AI-enabled battery materials innovator Mitra Chem and acquisition of battery software company ALGOLiON Ltd.

Jon Evans, CEO of Lithium Americas, said, "We have an incredible opportunity to lead the next chapter of global electrification." 

Vancouver-based Lithium Americas had commenced initial construction at the site in March last year. In a release, the company said "site preparation for major earthworks has been completed, including all site clearing, commissioning a water supply system, site access improvements and site infrastructure", and that major construction would start once the DoE's loan closes. 

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