U.S. agrees to record $2.26-billion loan for Nevada lithium plant

U.S. agrees to record .26-billion loan for Nevada lithium plant

Loan will help Lithium Americas develop largest lithium deposit in U.S.

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The Biden administration approved a US$2.26-billion loan to help Lithium Americas Corp. develop a Nevada lithium deposit that’s the country’s largest.

The conditional loan from the U.S. Department of Energy will provide the vast majority of the capital needed to fund the first phase of development, the company said in a statement Thursday, confirming an earlier Bloomberg News report.

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The funding being offered to the company’s Lithium Nevada Corp. subsidiary by the U.S. Department of Energy will help finance construction of a lithium carbonate processing plant. The project will be adjacent to Lithium Americas’ US$2.2-billion Thacker Pass mine, one of the country’s most promising opportunities to produce the metal that’s used in electric-vehicle batteries, solar panels and wind turbines.

The funding, the largest-ever loan to a mining company from the DOE’s Loan Programs Office, comes amid mounting efforts to help build domestic supplies of critical minerals. General Motors Co., which has invested US$650 million in Lithium Americas, is expected to be a long-term primary buyer from the project.

The Loan Programs Office has more than US$400 billion to spend following an infusion of cash from President Joe Biden’s signature climate law. Last year, it offered a conditional commitment for up to US$700 million for Ioneer Ltd.’s Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project, a prospective supplier to Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.

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Demand for lithium, which also is used for grid storage and weapons, is projected to exceed current production by 2030. About 65 per cent of the critical mineral is processed in China, although U.S. lithium production is projected to increase 13-fold thanks to tax credits and other subsidies provided in 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said Wednesday at a conference held by SAFE.

“We are fighting back to get every piece of the supply chain back in the United States or with our allies,” Granholm said.

— With assistance from Yvonne Yue Li and Thomas Biesheuvel.

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