THACKER PASS, NEV.
The remote moonscape of this northern Nevada crossroads is likely to become a vital auto industry nerve point in the coming years. Thacker Pass has been identified as one of the world's biggest concentrations of lithium ore — the basic building block for electric vehicle batteries. A mine there is expected to yield up to 60,000 tons of lithium ore a year for 46 years. Its developers are Lithium Americas Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, and its major Chinese shareholder, Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. The companies intend to begin extracting the ore in 2022. Getting the operation up and running will require construction of two on-site sulfuric acid plants, necessary to extract battery-grade lithium material from the ore, as well as a $105 million project to create a 57-mile rail line to connect the mine with its regional supply chain.