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GM To Invest $650M In Nevada Lithium Mine

Two major U.S. companies are creating a joint venture to explore and develop a major lithium mine which will bolster the United States’ ability to domestically source a rare earth mineral critical to electric batteries.

Under the agreement, General Motors Co. will invest $650 million in Lithium Americas Corp. to develop Nevada’s Thacker Pass mine in Nevada, the largest known source of lithium in the U.S. and third largest in the world.

Lithium is a key component in lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles. The lithium carbonate extracted from Thacker Pass — which sits at a dormant volcano in northern Nevada, roughly 25 miles from the Oregon border — will be used in GM’s proprietary Ultium battery cells.

“GM has secured all the battery material we need to build more than 1 million EVs annually in North America in 2025 and our future production will increasingly draw from domestic resources like the site in Nevada we’re developing with Lithium Americas,” GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra said in a press release. “Direct sourcing critical EV raw materials and components from suppliers in North America and free-trade-agreement countries helps make our supply chain more secure, helps us manage cell costs, and creates jobs.”

Lithium Americas drew protests from Native American tribes, ranchers, and environmental groups because, as the New York Times reported in 2021, “it is expected to use billions of gallons of precious ground water, potentially contaminating some of it for 300 years, while leaving behind a giant mound of waste.”

In 2020, Thacker pass had an after-tax value of $2.6 billion. The substantial lithium deposits were discovered after airborne gamma ray spectrometry revealed the presence of the rare earth minerals underground, according to a 2018 technical report.

Production at the mine is slated to begin in 2026. The project is expected to create 1,000 jobs in construction and 500 in operations.

“The agreement with GM is a major milestone in moving Thacker Pass toward production, while setting a foundation for the separation of our U.S. and Argentine businesses,” said Lithium Americas President and CEO Jonathan Evans. “This relationship underscores our commitment to develop a sustainable domestic lithium supply chain for electric vehicles. We are pleased to have GM as our largest investor, and we look forward to working together to accelerate the energy transition while spurring job creation and economic growth in America.”

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