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GM to invest $650m in Lithium Americas to develop largest lithium source in US

Lithium core from Thacker Pass mines. Source: Lithium Americas

American automaker General Motors and Lithium Americas recently announced an investment agreement to develop the Thacker Pass mine in Nevada, which is claimed as the largest known source of lithium in the United States, also third largest in the world. 

Under the agreement, GM will make a $650 million equity investment in mining company, which represents the largest-ever investment by an automaker to produce battery raw materials. Lithium Americas estimates the lithium extracted and processed from the project can support production of up to 1 million EVs per year.

According to GM, lithium carbonate from Thacker Pass will be used in the company's proprietary 'Ultium' battery cells that power a wide portfolio of electric pick-up trucks, SUVs, luxury cars and light commercial vehicles from GM brands including GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and BrightDrop. 

"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 Chair and CEO Mary Barra.

RELATED: GM, Glencore ink multi-year cobalt supply agreement

"Direct sourcing critical EV raw materials and components from suppliers in North America and free-trade-agreement countries helps make our supply chain more secure, helps us manage cell costs, and creates jobs", she added. 

Lithium Americas President and CEO Jonathan Evans commented, "The agreement with GM is a major milestone in moving Thacker Pass toward production, while setting a foundation for the separation of our U.S. and Argentine businesses. This relationship underscores our commitment to develop a sustainable domestic lithium supply chain for electric vehicles". 

Production at Thacker Pass is projected to begin in the second half of 2026. In connection with the closing of the first tranche investment, GM will receive exclusive access to Phase 1 production through a binding supply agreement and has the right of first offer on Phase 2 production. 

It is to be noted that GM has already announced four cell manufacturing giga factories with an annual capacity of 160 GWh. This includes Ultium Cells joint venture plant with LG Energy Solution in Warren, Ohio that is in production, and additional JV sites in Spring Hill, Tennessee and Lansing, Michigan that are scheduled to open in 2023 and 2024, respectively. 

RELATED: GM stepping-up EV manufacturing with $6.6 billion investment in Michigan

Vehicle manufacturing is taking place in two Michigan plants, one Tennessee plant and one Ontario plant. GM's suppliers are investing to create a robust North America-focused supply chain for EV raw materials, processed material and components, with major projects under way in California, Texas, Ohio and Quebec.

Author : Dhiyanesh Ravichandran
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