HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Nev. — Lithium Nevada announced recently the company has entered into an exclusive agreement with North American Coal Corporation (NACCO) to serve as exclusive contract miner for the $1.3 billion Thacker Pass lithium project near Orovada.
NACCO formed a subsidiary, Sawtooth Mining, for this project, according to Lithium Nevada's Sept. 25 announcement.
According to a press release from NACCO, Sawtooth will “design, construct, operate, and maintain the Thacker Pass surface mine, which will supply Lithium Nevada's lithium-bearing claystone ore requirements.”
The agreement calls for Lithium Nevada to reimburse Sawtooth for its operating and mine reclamation costs and pay Sawtooth a management fee per tonne of lithium delivered during the 20-year contract.
In addition, Lithium Nevada will pay Sawtooth a success fee upon completion of certain engineering, construction and production milestones.
Sawtooth will provide Lithium Nevada $3.5 million in cash to assist in the project's development.
After Lithium Nevada secures permits and financing for the project, Sawtooth intends to invest up to $50 million on the initial fleet of mining equipment. Lithium Nevada will reimburse over a seven-year period.
Lithium Nevada also announced it has entered into a design and build contract with TIC – The Industrial Company, a division of Kiewit Corporation.
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TIC – The Industrial Company will be responsible for the overall cost estimate in the final feasibility study as well as engineering design of plant, water supply structure, electrical infrastructure, and general site works.
According to a Lithium Nevada press release, Lithium Nevada has the option to expand the agreement to include TIC as the prime contractor for construction of the plant. TIC has experience building mines and processing facilities and has access to a workforce of 20,000 employees.
Lithium Nevada has hit a number of milestones in recent months, including submitting its Plan of Operation to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in August 2019, which the BLM “deemed complete” in September.
It expects to receive all major permits for Phase 1 operations by the end of 2020.
Lithium Americas reported it is in the process of conducting a definitive feasibility study with a Phase 1 production capacity of 20,000 metric tons per year of battery-quality product, which is expected to be completed by mid-2020.
The company also secured water rights for Phase 1 production. Use of water rights are subject to regulatory approvals.
Lithium Nevada intends to explore a variety of financing options, including the possibility of a joint venture partner. The company expects to begin a formal financing process in 2020.