New Lithium Technology Center Showcases Sustainable Business Practices

President of North American Operations for Lithium Americas Alexi Zawadzki, far left, gave Ft. McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe members, from right, Kyle Crutcher, Cauy Crutcher, Ario Crutcher and Rick Crutcher a tour of the center technical.

Among the sagebrush and sand of Nevada’s deserts, particularly that of Humboldt County, are rare and lucrative pockets of lithium waiting to be mined, refined and turned into battery-grade lithium carbonate, which powers countless everyday objects.

Lithium Americas held the July 20 grand opening of its 30,000 square foot Technical Center in Reno, which will house the research and development projects needed to keep the most advanced lithium mining project in the United States moving forward. – located in McDermitt – striving for bigger, better and greener goals.

The Thacker Pass site, located about 60 miles from Winnemucca, has received approval from the Bureau of Land Management that allows construction to begin, according to Lithium Americas.

Lithium Americas President and CEO Jonathan Evans, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, and University of Nevada President Brian Sandoval were all on hand to cut the ribbon at the inauguration, as well as members of the Ft. McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe.

“While we hope to play a meaningful role in developing a secure national lithium supply to meet our country’s electrification needs, we are committed to doing so in a way that benefits the people of Nevada, its tribal nations and to the entire industry that has thrived in this state,” Evans said.

The event featured a tour of the pristine machinery used to remove impurities and foster clean waste that can be reintroduced into the environment. According to President of North American Operations for Lithium Americas, Alexi Zawadzki, the majority of the process involves removing impurities, such as magnesium, which can cause lithium batteries to ignite, and ensuring that the waste created by the extraction process are environmentally friendly. responsible.

“It’s really important for people to understand what we do with our waste,” Zawadzki said.

Wastes produced by the extraction process — like Epsom salt, magnesium, and neutral clay — can be touched with bare hands and were touched by many guests at the opening. Even when the machines were running with materials inside, technicians and customers only had to wear plastic safety goggles. The non-lithium clay, made of a sandy loam material, is tightly packed into flat, square bricks, removing much of the water that is initially used to strip unwanted minerals from lithium-containing materials. lithium at the end of the process. The bricks are easily stored and can then be installed in mounds and used for backfilling during rehabilitation. According to officials, Lithium Americas is still studying how to recycle Epsom salt.

The Thacker Pass site will also house its own sulfuric acid plant, according to Zawadzki, for leaching and neutralization, an important step in ensuring the lithium produced is pure. The plant will convert sulphur, which is much safer to transport and store than sulfuric acid, into sulfuric acid on site, eliminating risks during transport and handling.

“Building a sulfuric acid plant on site reduces the number of trucks on the road because each ton of sulfur can create three tons of sulfuric acid, and sulfur is much safer to transport. Sulfuric acid production also produces steam that we will use to generate carbon-free power for the processing plant,” according to Lithium Americas.

Julia Maestrejuan/Nevada News Group
Brian Sandoval, president of the University of Nevada, front left, Jonathan Evans, CEO of Lithium Nevada, Gov. Steve Sisolak, Littlestar Abel, member of the Ft. McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe, Maria Anderson, community relations manager for Lithium Nevada and other members of the Ft. McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe cut the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the new lithium technology center July 20 in Reno.

The materials go through further scrubbing, filtration and purification processes, forging sustainable energy from steam and water that is recycled more than seven times throughout the process. At the end, the white powdered lithium substance is tested in parts per million for the detection of impurities, by expert procedures in the state-of-the-art laboratory.

Zawadzki said filtration processes to reuse water and create environmentally neutral waste are expensive, but important to Lithium Americas’ work to minimize its environmental footprint, which exceeds regulatory requirements.

“We are always improving,” Zawadzki said.

“With the technology expertise of Lithium Americas and the research capability of the University of Nevada, Reno, the Lithium Engineering Development Center commissioned today is a shining example of the productive public-private partnerships we encourage across the state to fuel economic growth and responsible use of resources,” Sisolak said. “This is a fantastic achievement for everyone involved that firmly places Nevada at the center of America’s clean energy leadership.”

“The determination that Lithium Americas has shown to not only build a strong U.S. battery industry, but to train the next pioneers in this field, will pay dividends in Nevada, ensuring that we can continue to set and achieve ambitious goals. “Sandoval said.

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