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DOE advances $2.3B for Lithium Americas mine

Illustration of a mining cart full of batteries.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The U.S. Energy Department this morning announced a $2.26 billion conditional loan commitment to a Lithium Americas subsidiary to develop a lithium extraction project in Nevada.

Why it matters: The Thacker Pass mine would be North America's largest source of lithium for electric vehicles and other battery devices.

State of play: Lithium Americas started construction on the mine in northern Nevada last year.

  • It received a $650 million investment in January 2023 from General Motors, which has agreed to buy battery-grade lithium carbonate from the site.

The estimated cost of the mine has climbed to nearly $2.93 billion from $2.27 billion last year.

Context: Some Native American tribes in the region oppose the project. Thacker Pass was the site of an 1865 massacre of Native Americans by U.S. soldiers.

  • Conservationists have also sought to block the project.

Lithium Americas in 2022 signed an agreement with the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe to fund infrastructure improvements and provide job training and employment opportunities, the Energy Department says.

What's next: The loan offer from the agency's Loan Programs Office is for Lithium Americas subsidiary Lithium Nevada.

  • Lithium Nevada will need to meet certain technical, financial and other conditions before it can receive the loan via the agency's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.
  • The project also faces a potential lengthy review under the National Environmental Policy Act.

Separately: The Energy Department made two other announcements yesterday: $750 million in funding for 52 hydrogen projects, and a conditional $72.8 million partial loan guarantee for a solar-plus-storage microgrid on Tribal lands of the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians near Alpine, Calif.

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