Lithium Americas Provides Update on the Lithium Nevada Project
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA- – Lithium Americas Corp. is pleased to provide an update on the Lithium Nevada Project located in Nevada. The Company is developing the 100 percent owned Lithium Nevada Project, a clay-based lithium resource in the McDermitt Caldera, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Lithium Nevada Corp.
Building on years of exploration and testing, a Preliminary Feasibility Study on the Lithium Nevada Project is expected to be complete by the end of Q2 2018 to demonstrate the economic potential of producing lithium hydroxide from lithium-bearing claystone.
Lithium Americas has assembled a technical team that includes engineering alumni from several major industry participants, in addition to highly trained and experienced mining permit specialists and exploration and mining geologists.
To manage the Lithium Nevada Project’s development, Lithium Americas has appointed Alexi Zawadzki as the President of North American Operations who will work alongside Dr. David Deak, President of Lithium Nevada and Chief Technical Officer of Lithium Americas. Alexi has over 20 years of experience developing and constructing mining and energy projects across North and South America, in addition to the management of technical teams and business units.
“Supported by one of the strongest technical teams in the industry, we intend to develop the Lithium Nevada Project into a globally significant source of lithium,” commented Alexi Zawadzki. “Following the success of our partnership strategy with the Cauchari-Olaroz project in Argentina, we will continue to explore additional partnership opportunities for the Lithium Nevada Project with the goal of accelerating the timeline and lowering the development risk.”
Dr. David Deak added, “With considerable work invested in resource definition and process technology, we believe the Lithium Nevada Project has the potential to be a leading low-cost and large-scale source of lithium products in North America.”
Current members of the Reno-based Lithium Nevada Project team include:
- Dr. David Deak, DPhil – President of Lithium Nevada and CTO of Lithium Americas – has built his career on emerging technologies and supply chain development in renewable energy, energy storage, and electric vehicles. David’s responsibilities include oversight of the overall development of Lithium Nevada.
- Dr. Rene LeBlanc, PhD – Senior Process Development Manager – over 10 years of experience as a senior process development engineer at FMC Corporation’s lithium division in Bessemer City, North Carolina and most recently at Tesla, Inc. Rene is focused on flowsheet development and overall management of the PFS.
- Mr. Doug Morgan – Senior Process Engineer – over 30 years of experience in various chemical engineering roles, including six years as senior engineer at Rockwood Lithium (now Albemarle Corporation) based in Silver Peak, Nevada. Doug’s focus is on process technology development, testing, and flowsheet validation.
- Ms. Catherine Clark – Environmental Director – over 30 years of experience in project management and development, and environmental regulatory compliance. Catherine serves as the Environmental Committee Chairperson at the Nevada Mining Association and is focused on accelerating the permitting process for the Lithium Nevada Project.
- Mr. Randal Burns – Senior Mining Geologist – over 10 years of experience in mining geology, including resource drilling, metallurgical testing and ore control for a highly clay-altered porphyry copper deposit, at Robinson Nevada Mining Co. in Nevada. Randal is focused on exploration, resource expansion, and block modeling.
- Mr. Chaitanya Sharma, PE – Senior Systems Engineer – energy and mechanical engineer with experience in battery manufacturing and plant design, including a leadership role in designing the mechanical and process systems at Tesla, Inc.’s Gigafactory in Nevada. Chaitanya’s role is to optimize mine site mechanical and energy systems, with a focus on energy efficiency, reduction, and recovery.
- Ms. Melissa Boerst – Exploration Geologist – analytical geochemistry and QA/QC. Melissa leverages her years of experience in managing analytical laboratories and mine site exploration to maintain quality on our exploration program.
- Dr. Thomas Benson, PhD – Geologist / Volcanologist Advisor – recently joined Lithium Nevada having been awarded a PhD from Stanford University where he specialized in lithium-bearing clay exploration from super-volcanoes. Tom brings a highly-specialized skill set that will assist in potentially expanding the resource at the Lithium Nevada Project and in identifying new exploration targets.
The Lithium Nevada Project is advancing a process technology with the objective to produce battery-grade lithium hydroxide from claystone. The flowsheet is designed to: (1) use leaching to liberate lithium from the ore, and (2) apply proven purification technology to produce high-quality lithium compounds. Leaching is believed to be advantageous when compared to previously considered processes as it avoids energy-intensive roasting, significantly reduces tailings volume, and maximizes the recovery of lithium through commercially-viable process technology.
Test work is underway at a leading lithium manufacturing facility using a combination of laboratory and existing commercial production equipment. This strategic and cost-effective approach is targeted to advance the testing process towards final design and provides options for future strategic partnerships.
Ongoing process test work is currently focused on refinement of the following aspects of the flowsheet:
- the characterization and beneficiation of ore;
- optimizing leaching and recovery conditions of lithium from claystone; and
- purification and production of high-value lithium compounds.
“The process has been designed by challenging prior assumptions and leveraging commercially viable technologies. Our efforts are squarely focused on minimizing the cost,” remarked Dr. Deak. “While proprietary, much of our work relies on the application of commercially available solutions that could be deployed quickly and reliably. Recognizing market need, our process is designed to produce lithium hydroxide, the preferred feedstock for high energy density lithium-ion batteries.”
Drill Program and Resource:
The Lithium Nevada Project’s lithium clay resource is the largest known lithium resource in the United States, and is unconfined by drilling. An exploration program commenced in 2017 at the Lithium Nevada Project (the “2017 Exploration Program“) consisting of drilling and seismic work. The purpose of the 2017 Exploration Program is to: (1) increase the confidence of the identified resource, (2) potentially expand the size of the resource, and (3) better understand areas that are unconfined by drilling.
A total of 70 drill targets have been strategically located within, and to the south and to the east, of the Lithium Nevada Project’s Zone 1 (previously referred to as Stage 1 in the Company’s June, 2016 technical report entitled “Independent Technical Report for the Lithium Nevada Property, Nevada, USA”), where some of the most highly-concentrated lithium clays in North America have been discovered. The 2017 Exploration Program is fully permitted, approximately 65% complete, and is expected to be concluded by early 2018.
Seismic work was completed in 2017 and will be analyzed with the drilling data obtained from the 2017 Exploration Program to better understand the geological structures in areas unconfined by drilling to the east of Zone 1 of the Lithium Nevada Project. Additional seismic exploration is anticipated to be conducted in 2018.
The resource at the Lithium Nevada Project is near-surface and in some areas the overburden consists of hectorite clay, which has commercial value in other industries. Due to the soft nature of the claystone, conventional open pit mining using truck and shovel methods is contemplated with blasting not considered a requirement for day-to-day operations.
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