Michigan’s General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) wants to invest US$650 million in the controversial Thacker Pass lithium mine if approved by court.
The car producer said on Tuesday that the mine operator Lithium Americas Corp. (TSX: LAC) (NYSE: LAC) will help secure a reliable lithium source for GM’s future electric vehicle production quota.
The proposed lithium mine has been under criticism by environmental organizations and Indigenous groups due to the environmental impact it will have in Nevada.
Those activists held a protest in Reno at the beginning of last month where they voiced their frustration outside of the city’s Bruce R. Thompson Courthouse.
Lithium Americas estimates that the project would be able to generate enough lithium to support the production of one million electric vehicles per year and GM says the investment will be the largest that an automotive company has ever made to produce raw battery materials.
However, Reno Nevada’s Chief Judge Miranda Du still needs to provide a written decision about whether or not to proceed with the project before these dollars can be put to use at the mine.
Her ruling on the court proceedings related to the project is expected sometime in the coming months.
Large organizations such as GM and Lithium Americas are showing support for the mine but the Protect Thacker Pass group continues to voice its disapproval.
… the meadowlarks, the snails, the lizards, the sagebrush, the wildflowers, the pronghorn, the hawks, the deep quiet when the wind calms, the golden shine of the last sunlight on the long grass and rabbitbrush.
— Protect Thacker Pass (@ProtectThPass) January 31, 2023
The conflict has been ongoing since the beginning of 2021 when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the mine’s development in a manner viewed by opponents as being fast-tracked and irresponsible prior to the ensuing lawsuits and court case.
According to Protect Thacker Pass and local sources, the BLM fined Protect Thacker Pass approximately US$50,000 at the end of 2021 for trespassing and setting up latrines for Indigenous elders in a camp used to observe Lithium Americas’ activity at the proposed mining site.
Nevada’s Indigenous group — the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony is another organization that made their disapproval over the proposed mine known.
On Jan. 5 members marched with others through Reno and protested outside of the courthouse where the final hearing regarding the future of the mine and their lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management was taking place.
The Burns Paiute Tribe is another Indigenous group that disapproves of the lithium mine.
Reno courthouse protest, Jan. 5. Video via Facebook from Protect Thacker Pass, courtesy of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony
GM’s funding will not be released to Lithium Americas until court case concludes
GM’s proposed funding will be split into two tranches with the first being held in escrow until specific conditions are met. This includes the pending outcome of the Record of Decision for the mine in U.S. District Court and whether or not Judge Du will overturn the Trump Administration’s decision to permit the mine or approve it.
The second tranche is expected to be provided to Lithium Americas’ U.S.-focused business following the company dividing its American and Argentinian assets.
The mine’s future approval is of great importance to GM and Lithium Americas. The companies hold the position that the mine would create jobs, combat climate change and foster economic growth.
“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,” said GM’s CEO Mary Barra on Tuesday.
GM’s stock value dropped by 0.89 per cent today to $41.13 on the New York Stock Exchange.
“This relationship underscores our commitment to develop a sustainable domestic lithium supply chain for electric vehicles,” said Jonathan Evans, President and CEO of Lithium Americas.
“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.”
Lithium Americas’ stock value decreased by 1.78 per cent today to $32.57 on the TSX.
Some mining organizations such as Calibre Mining (TSX: CXB) (OTCQX: CXBMF) have put resources in place to create good relationships with local groups while implementing sustainable practices in Nevada.
The company also recently created a short documentary showcasing its environmental initiatives in Central America.
Calibre Mining is a sponsor of Mugglehead news coverage