GM agrees to invest $650 million in a lithium mine to secure access to EV minerals

common engine Co. agreed to make a conditional investment of $650 million in Lithium Americas Corp. in an agreement that would give GM exclusive access to the first phase of a planned mine near the Nevada-Oregon . line with the largest known source of lithium in the United States

The equity investment the companies announced together on Tuesday depends on Thacker Pass project address the ultimate environmental and regulatory challenges it faces in federal court in Renowhere conservationists and tribal leaders are suing to stop it.

Attorneys for the mining company and the US government told a judge during a January 5 hearing that the project is important to meet growing demand for lithium to make vehicle batteries. electricity – a key part of President Joe Biden’s effort to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

GM said Tuesday’s announcement marks the largest-ever investment by an automaker to produce raw materials for batteries.

Lithium Americas estimates that lithium extracted and processed from the project atop an ancient volcano about 200 miles (321 km) northeast of Reno could support the annual production of up to 1 million electric vehicles. The company says it is the third largest known lithium mine in the world.

“The agreement with GM is an important milestone in moving Thacker Pass into production,” Lithium Americas President and CEO Jonathan Evans said in a joint statement Tuesday.

“We are pleased that GM is our largest investor, and we look forward to working together to accelerate the energy transition while driving job creation and economic growth in the United States,” he said. .

GM also reported on Tuesday that increased factory output led to strong U.S. sales late last year, pushing the automaker to fourth quarter net income 16% increase over the same period last year.

“GM has secured all the battery materials we need to build more than 1 million electric vehicles annually in North America by 2025, and our future production will increasingly draw from domestic resources such as the location in Nevada that we are developing with Lithium Americas.” and CEO Mary Barra.

The joint statement said GM’s investment would be split into two parts. The first will be held in escrow “until certain conditions are met, including the outcome of a decision on the Record of Decision currently pending in the United States District Court.”

“If those conditions are met, the funds will be released and GM will become a shareholder of Lithium Americas,” the joint statement said.

The escrow release is expected to take place no later than the end of 2023, and lithium production is expected to begin in the second half of 2026, it said.

The second part of the investment depends on, among other things, Lithium Americas “securing capital to fund development costs to support Thacker Pass,” the statement said.

Conservationists say the mine will destroy the dwindling habitat of grouper, Lahontan trout, pronghorn antelope and golden eagle, pollute the air and create a toxic water column beneath the beak. exposed deeper than the length of a football field.

Tribal leaders say it will destroy nearby sacred lands where dozens of their ancestors were massacred by the U.S. Cavalry in 1865.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du said after a three-hour hearing in Reno on January 5 that she hopes to make a decision “within the next few months” on how to proceed with the nearly lengthy legal battle. the past two years the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Land management approves the mine.

Attorneys for the company and the office assert that the project complies with US laws and regulations. But they say that if Du decides not to, she should immediately stop revoking the agency’s approval and allow initial work on the site to begin when further assessments are commenced.

Opponents say that shouldn’t happen because any damage to the environment will be irreversible.

US Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., praised GM’s announcement, which he said will advance efforts to develop US-made batteries for electric vehicles and other uses. Manchin said China now controls about 80% of the world’s anode production and 75% of the world’s lithium-ion batteries.

“I am old enough to remember… 1974 when I was standing in line for gas if it was my turn to go to work,” Manchin said Tuesday in a speech to the U.S. Senate. “I do not intend to stand in line waiting for China to send the batteries to help my car work. I will not do that. So this is why we are going in the direction we are going.”

“The United States is the world’s superpower, and to maintain that status, you have to be energy independent and secure your energy resources,” Manchin said.

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