Alexi Zavadzki, far left, president of North American operations for Lithium America, gave the Ft. Members of the McDermitt Paiute Shoshone tribe, from right, Kyle Crutcher, Cauy Crutcher, Ario Crutcher and Rick Crutcher tour the Tech Center.
In the brush and sand of the Nevada deserts, particularly the Humboldt County deserts, there are rare and profitable pockets of lithium waiting to be mined, refined, and turned into the battery-grade lithium carbonate that powers countless everyday items.
Lithium Americas held the grand opening of its 30,000-square-foot technical center in Reno on July 20, which will house the research and development projects needed to sustain the evolution of the most advanced lithium mining project in the United States, located in McDermitt. for bigger, better and greener goals.
The Thacker Pass site, located approximately 60 miles from Winnemucca, has received a Bureau of Land Management permit to begin construction, according to Lithium Americas.
Lithium America President and CEO Jonathan Evans, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval were all on hand for the ribbon cutting at the grand opening, along with members of the Ft. McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe.
“While we hope to play a significant role in developing a secure domestic supply of lithium to meet our nation’s electrification needs, we are committed to doing so in a way that benefits the people of Nevada, its tribal nations, and the broader industry that thrives. in this state,” Evans said.
The event featured a tour of the pristine machines used to remove impurities and promote clean waste that can be reintroduced into the environment. Much of the process, according to Alexi Zawadzki, Lithium America’s president of North American operations, is removing impurities such as magnesium, which can cause lithium batteries to catch fire, and ensuring that the waste generated by the mining process is environmentally friendly. responsible.
Waste from the mining process, such as Epsom salt, magnesium and neutral clay, can be touched with bare hands, and many of the guests at the opening were. Even when the machines were working with the materials inside them, technicians and customers only had to wear plastic safety glasses. The non-lithium-bearing clay, made from sandy silt material, is tightly packed into flat, square bricks, removing much of the water originally used to wash unwanted minerals from lithium-bearing materials at the end of the process. The cubes are easily stored and can then be placed in mounds and used after reclamation. Lithium Americas is still researching how to recycle the Epsom salt, according to officials.
Thacker Pass will also house its own sulfuric acid plant for leaching and neutralization, which Zavadzki says is a critical step in making sure the resulting lithium is clean. The plant will convert sulfur, which is much safer to transport and store than sulfuric acid, into sulfuric acid on site, eliminating risks during transportation and handling.
“Building a sulfuric acid plant on site reduces the number of trucks on the road, because each ton of sulfur can create three tons of sulfuric acid, and sulfur is much safer to transport. Sulfuric acid production also produces steam, which we will use to generate carbon-free power for the refinery,” according to Lithium Americas.
“The determination that Lithium Americas has shown not only to build a strong US battery industry, but also to train the next pioneers in this space, will pay dividends in Nevada, ensuring that we can continue to set and achieve ambitious goals,” said Sandoval.