Lithium Americas Corp. [LAC-TSX, NYSE] provided results of a Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) for the Thacker Pass lithium project in Humboldt County, Nevada. Unless otherwise stated, all figures U.S. dollars and are on a 100% equity project basis. Thacker Pass is located in the McDermitt Caldera and is 100% owned by Lithium Nevada Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lithium Americas. The PFS was prepared and approved by WorleyParsons Canada Inc.
- Large-scale lithium project in Northern Nevada. PFS demonstrates production of 60,000 tpa of battery-grade lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) to be developed in two phases;
- 46-year mine life from low strip open-pit mine. Open-pit mine plan with proven and probable reserves of 3.1 million tonnes of lithium carbonate equivalent (LCE) at a grade of 3,283 ppm Li supporting a mine life of 46 years and a low strip ratio of 1.6:1 waste-to-ore;
- Collaborated with Ganfeng Lithium to develop and test process flowsheet. Flowsheet developed and tested with support from Ganfeng Lithium’s technical team and facilities to produce Li2CO3 from lithium-bearing claystone at an average recovery rate of 83% using conventional sulfuric acid leaching;
- Positioned at low end of the cost curve. Average life-of-mine (LOM) operating costs of $2,570/t of Li2CO3, net credits from sulfuric acid and electricity sales. Average LOM all-in sustaining costs, including royalties and sustaining capital costs, of $3,043/t of Li2CO3;
- Phase 1 capex of $581 million. Initial capital cost, including a 19% contingency, estimated at $581 million for Phase 1, and $478 million for Phase 2. At a price of $12,000/t for battery-grade Li2CO3, cashflow from Phase 1 production is forecast to fully-fund Phase 2 capital costs;
- After-tax IRR of 29.3% at $12,000/t Li2CO3. Average annual EBITDA of $520 million ($246 million – Phase 1), after-tax NPV of $2.6 billion (at an 8% discount rate) and after-tax IRR of 29.3% assuming a price of $12,000/t for battery-grade Li2CO3.
“The strong economics demonstrated by the PFS clearly support the commercial potential for this large, high-grade clay-based lithium resource,” said Alexi Zawadzki, Lithium Americas’ President of North American Operations. “With the experience of our team and leveraging our strong partner relationships, we plan to rapidly advance this scalable project to become the leading source of lithium production in the USA.”
“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,” noted Tom Hodgson, CEO of Lithium Americas. “As a large U.S.-based lithium project with strong economics, we expect Thacker Pass to attract significant strategic partnership opportunities to accelerate the path to production.”
The project is situated approximately 100 km northwest of Winnemucca, 33 km northwest of Orovada. The project is accessible via a paved highway with good regional infrastructure including power and rail. Northern Nevada is recognized as one of the most concentrated areas in the world for skilled mining labor. The project has been designed to avoid environmentally sensitive and rugged terrain, which is expected to reduce permitting timelines, construction risk and costs. Refer to company press release for more details.