Lithium Americas has obtained a conditional commitment for a $2.26bn loan from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to build processing facilities at the Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada.

The loan was awarded under the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Programme, and aims to support the initial production of 40,000t of battery-grade lithium carbonate annually.

It is estimated that the Thacker Pass project will create around 1,800 direct jobs during its three-year construction phase and 360 jobs after commencing operations over its 40-year mine life.

In collaboration with Bechtel, its EPCM contractor, Lithium Americas signed a National Construction Agreement (Project Labor Agreement) with North America’s Building Trades Unions for the project.

The company emphasises its commitment to sustainable development, including close engagement with local communities and measures to minimise environmental impacts.

Thacker Pass is integral to the US Government’s strategy to secure a domestic supply chain for critical minerals, reducing dependence on foreign materials.

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The mine’s Phase 1 production could potentially meet the lithium requirements for up to 800,000 electric vehicles (EVs) annually.

Thacker Pass will be developed in two phases and is projected to have a total production capacity of 80,000t of battery-quality lithium carbonate annually.

The start of Phase 1 production is anticipated in 2027, with the sourced material supporting EV eligibility for consumer incentives under the US clean energy tax credits programme.

Besides, General Motors Holdings has agreed to invest $650m in Lithium Americas for the development of Thacker Pass, the largest publicly disclosed investment by an automaker in a company producing battery raw materials.

GM has secured exclusive rights to the lithium production from Phase 1 for up to 15 years and holds a right of first offer on the production from Phase 2.

Lithium Americas president and CEO Jonathan Evans said: “The US has an incredible opportunity to lead the next chapter of global electrification in a way that both strengthens our battery supply chains and ensures that the economic benefits are directed toward American workers, companies and communities.

“The ATVM Loan Conditional Commitment announced today by the DOE is a significant milestone for Thacker Pass, which will help meet the growing domestic need for lithium chemicals and strengthen our nation’s security.”