Thacker Pass lithium project: Humboldt County signs MOU with BLM |

Thacker Pass lithium project: Humboldt County signs MOU with BLM

Michelle Cook

The Humboldt Sun

Lithium Nevada Corp. is in the process of designing and permitting the Thacker Pass project located about 60 miles northwest of Winnemucca in Humboldt County, near Orovada.
Courtesy Lithium Nevada

WINNEMUCCA, Nev. — The Humboldt County Commission recently approved an agreement to be a cooperating agency as part of the development of the $1.3 billion Thacker Pass mine project’s Environmental Impact Statement.

The other cooperating agency is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The county commission approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities at its Nov. 18 meeting.

The MOU states that Humboldt County and the BLM are “responsible for developing and implementing land use management plans, and authorizing lands actions within their respective jurisdictions.”

The MOU’s purpose is to coordinate and promote cooperation between the county and the BLM to participate in the “administration of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) … [and] allows for BLM to evaluate and address Humboldt County comments and resolve issues early in the EIS process.”

The MOU also outlines each cooperating agency’s responsibilities with the understanding that each will collaborate on developing, maintaining, and administering common guidelines and procedures for “expediting the NEPA process for approval of the Plans of Operations included in the Thacker Pass Project” and the EIS.

The Thacker Pass project is operated by Reno-based Lithium Nevada Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lithium Americas Corporation. The project is approximately 17 miles northwest of Orovada and 54 miles north-northwest of Winnemucca.

The proposed project encompasses approximately 18,195 acres. Within the project area, Lithium Nevada proposes a “total of 5,545 acres of disturbance related to the mine, plant, and ancillary activities.”

Mining and exploration is projected to occur through 2061.

Proposed activities include the development of an open pit mine with concurrent backfill of the open pit after sufficient volume has been excavated; construction and operation of mine facilities to support mining operations; and construction and operation of lithium processing and production facilities designed to produce lithium carbonate, lithium hydroxide monohydrate, lithium sulfide, lithium metal, and solid-state lithium batteries.

Lithium Nevada — which recently opened its first office in Winnemucca at 91 Melarkey St., Suite No. 3 — filed its Plan of Operation with the BLM in August 2019. The mining company expects to acquire all major permits for Phase 1 operations by the end of 2020.

The operations will create approximately 1,000 jobs during the construction of $1.3 billion project and will employ more than 285 people. 

The company anticipates permits to be issued by the end of 2020 and for Phase I construction to begin shortly thereafter. Phase I production is expected to begin sometime in late 2022.