Battery Metals


The company is aiming for 30,000 tonnes per year of battery grade lithium carbonate production in 2022, increasing to 60,000 tonnes per year in 2026.

Vancouver-based Lithium Americas (NYSE:LAC,TSX:LAC) published the results of a prefeasibility study (PFS) for its Thacker Pass lithium project on Thursday (June 21).

The study indicates a production target of 30,000 tonnes per year of battery grade lithium carbonate in 2022, increasing to 60,000 tonnes per year in 2026.

The project will be developed as an open-pit mine, with an estimated mine life of 46 years. Proven and probable reserves stand at 3.1 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent at a grade of 3,283 parts per million lithium and a low strip ratio of 1.6:1 waste-to-ore.

“Thacker Pass is an important complement to our Cauchari-Olaroz lithium joint venture currently under construction in Jujuy, Argentina. The PFS reflects the substantial synergies and value realized from leveraging the talent and operating expertise of our largest shareholder, Ganfeng Lithium (SHE:002460),” said Tom Hodgson, CEO of Lithium Americas.

The company collaborated with the Chinese top lithium producer to develop and test the process flowsheet to produce battery grade lithium carbonate from lithium-bearing claystone. The average recovery rate was 83 percent, using conventional sulfuric acid and leaching.

“As a large US-based lithium project with strong economics, we expect Thacker Pass to attract significant strategic partnership opportunities to accelerate the path to production,” Hodgson added.

The initial capital cost for the project, which is located in Nevada, is estimated at US$581 million for phase 1, and US$478 million for phase 2.

Assuming a price of US$12,000 per tonne for battery grade lithium carbonate, the average EBITDA per year for the project is forecast at US$520 million, with an after tax net present value of US$2.6 billion at an 8 percent discount rate and after tax interest rate return of 29.3 percent.

Looking ahead, the company is aiming to start phase 1 construction in 2020, with lithium production beginning in 2022.

Aside from Thaker Pass, Lithium Americas, together with Chile’s SQM (NYSE:SQM), is developing the Cauchari-Olaroz lithium project in Argentina. It also owns RheoMinerals, a supplier a supplier of rheology modifiers for oil-based drilling fluids, coatings, and specialty chemicals.

On Thursday, shares of Lithium Americas closed up 2.83 percent in New York at US$5.45.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Priscila Barrera, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.


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