Junior miner Lithium Americas is on track to begin construction of its Thacker Pass project in the United States in early 2022, chief executive officer and president Jonathan Evans told Fastmarkets on Tuesday June 15.
Evans spoke to Fastmarkets following news that construction work at the site could be delayed while a federal judge considers whether the project poses a threat to wildlife in the area, which opponents argue is the case. Environmentalists filed an injunction against the development of the Thacker Pass site earlier this year after the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a final federal permit for the project in the state of Nevada.
The court hearing for the injunction request will take place on July 21 and the judge’s decision is estimated to take place by the end of July, Evans said.
“We were expecting this injunction request as part of the appeal process and it was considered as part of our overall construction schedule, which is still targeted to begin in early 2022,” he said.
Lithium Americas received a Record of Decision from the BLM for the Thacker Pass project on January 15, 2021.
The company said in January that it expected all remaining state permits to be received this year, and in the meantime it was evaluating partnerships and financing opportunities for the facility.
The Thacker Pass project is 100% owned by Lithium Americas and has planned production capacity of around 30,000 tonnes per year of lithium when operating normally.
“Thacker Pass is an important project that will provide hundreds of high-paying jobs and support critical national demand for lithium products. We believe all environmental standards have been met or exceeded for the project, and we are undertaking extensive commitments to protect the local habitat,” Evans said.
Lithium is a key ingredient in the manufacture of batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and energy storage systems, and lithium demand for both uses is expected to soar in the coming years.
Fastmarkets’ latest assessment of the lithium hydroxide monohydrate, 56.5% LiOH.H2O min, battery grade, spot price, cif China, Japan & Korea was at $13.00-14.50 per kg on June 10, up from $8.50-9.50 per kg on January 7.