What is Thacker Pass?
Thacker Pass is the largest and most advanced lithium project in the United States. Located in the McDermitt Caldera, approximately 60 miles north-northwest of Winnemucca, Nevada, the project is located on public lands administered by the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In January 2021, Thacker Pass received a Record of Decision from the BLM, representing their final decision to approve the project and the final national-level permit required to start construction.
Construction is expected to commence in 2022 after final ruling of the BLM appeal and receipt of key state-level permits.
Thacker Pass will be built in phases to mine lithium-bearing ore and make high-purity, specialty chemicals required by the lithium-ion battery industry. The initial Phase 1 is for production capacity of 40,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of battery-quality lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE). Phase 2 is for production capacity of up to 80,000 tpa of LCE.
Since 2008, we have worked to minimize the environmental footprint of the project and exceed regulatory standards. By incorporating existing and emerging technologies (such as electric trucks and heavy equipment), Thacker Pass aims to be an entirely carbon neutral project.
Thacker Pass will use little water - approximately 2,600 acre-feet per year in Phase 1 and an additional 2,600 acre-feet per year in Phase 2*.
Thacker Pass will draw less than 1% of the total approximate 350,000 acre-feet per year pumped from Humboldt Country.
All process water will be recycled in a closed-loop cooling circuit, as a cleaner alternative to evaporation coolers, allowing us to save more than 1,000 acre-feet of water each year.
Working with the Bureau of Land Management, the US Fish & Wildlife Service we worked hard to reduce any potential effects on natural resources in the area. We have taken particular care to ensure operations will not affect protected trout habitat, sage grouse leks or golden eagle nests, and will conduct extensive testing during operations to continuously confirm these conclusions.
We established the Great Basin Sagebrush Restoration Fund in 2017 with the University of Nevada, Reno to develop technologies that improve desert restoration so we will be better equipped to reclaim the land concurrently during mining. In fact, the coated seed technology developed through our funding is being commercialized now for others to use.
* See What is Thacker Pass? for details on Phase 1 and Phase 2.
The development of Thacker Pass will create jobs, increase economic activity and generate tax revenues for the state of Nevada. View our job openings in Winnemucca and Reno. Job openings should increase as we get closer to construction and operations, so check back often.
Lithium Americas’ goal is to hire locally to the greatest extent possible to provide fulfilling, family-supporting jobs. During the two-year construction phase, Thacker Pass is expected to employ up to 1,000 contractors. When the mine reaches full capacity, Thacker Pass is expected to employ approximately 300 people with family-supporting jobs1 for the 46-year life of mine.
Thacker Pass and its employees will increase economic activity within Humboldt County by purchasing goods and services from local retailers, vendors and other service providers. We estimate that the ripple effect of our investment of over $1 billion to develop Thacker Pass will create additional spending of approximately $650 million.
1 Based on the expected hiring needs for construction and operation of the project, and subject to changes to project scope and scale and general economic factors.