General Motors and Lithium Americas will jointly invest to develop the Thacker Pass mine in Nevada, which the companies say is the largest known source of lithium in the United States and the third largest in the world.
Under the agreement, GM will make a $650 million equity investment in Lithium Americas, which the company says 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 the production of up to one million EVs per year.
Lithium carbonate from Thacker Pass will be used in GM’s proprietary Ultium battery cells. Lithium is a key material in lithium-ion batteries and stands up well to repeated charging and discharging (including enabling fast charging), delivers higher energy density, and offers more usable capacity than other battery types.
“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. “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.”
GM’s investment will be split between two tranches. The funds for the first tranche will be held in escrow until certain conditions are met, including the outcome of the Record of Decision ruling currently pending in U.S. District Court. If those conditions are met, the funds will be released and GM will become a shareholder in Lithium Americas. The escrow release is expected to occur no later than the end of 2023. The second tranche investment is expected to be made into Lithium Americas’ U.S.-focused lithium business following the separation of its U.S. and Argentina businesses and is contingent on similar conditions, including Lithium Americas securing sufficient capital to fund the development expenditures to support Thacker Pass.
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.
GM has announced four U.S. cell plants with an annual capacity of 160 gigawatt-hours, including the Ultium Cells joint venture plant with LG Energy Solution in Warren, Ohio, which is in production, and additional JV sites in Spring Hill, Tennessee and Lansing, Michigan, that are scheduled to open in 2023 and 2024, respectively. The first three Ultium Cells plants are expected to create 6,000 jobs in construction and 5,000 in operations.
GM is currently building EVs in two Michigan plants, one Tennessee plant and one Ontario plant, and its 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.