US President Joe Biden and General Motors CEO Mary Barra look at the Chevrolet Silverado EV during a visit to the 2022 North American International Auto Show at the Huntington Place Convention Center in Detroit, Michigan on September 14, 2022 – Biden attends the auto show to highlight manufacturing electric vehicles.

Mandel Ngan | Afp | Getty Images

General Motors Company said Tuesday that it plans to invest $650 million Lithium of America to provide access to lithium, a vital component of electric vehicle batteries.

It’s the biggest investment an automaker has ever made to source the raw materials that go into batteries, the companies said.

If the lithium is mined and processed at the Thacker Pass project, it will be enough for GM to produce up to one million electric vehicles a year.

According to GM and Lithium Americas, lithium is a critical component for storage batteries because it has a very high energy density and can withstand charging and discharging well.

“Direct sourcing of critical EV raw materials and components from suppliers in North America and FTA countries helps make our supply chain more secure, helps us manage cell costs and creates jobs,” said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra. announcing the investment.

Sourcing materials is especially important as GM looks to ramp up production of electric vehicles. And in a letter to shareholders also published on Tuesday, Barra said 2023 would be a “pivotal year” for the Ultium platform, which is the automaker’s battery platform for electric vehicles.

Barra said GM is on track to produce 400,000 electric vehicles between 2022 and the first half of 2023 in North America.

In exchange for its investment, GM will receive exclusive access to the first phase of lithium production and the right of first refusal on the second phase of lithium production, which will come from Thacker Pass in Nevada, which is the largest source of lithium in the world. has been identified in the United States, according to GM and Lithium Americas.

The companies said lithium production at Thacker Pass, located in Northern Nevada, is expected to begin in the second half of 2026 and will create 1,000 jobs during mine construction and 500 during operation.

“This is an exciting milestone, and we couldn’t have asked for a better organization than General Motors to be our largest investor,” Lithium Americas President and CEO Jonathan Evans told CNBC. “GM shares our commitment to significantly advancing the energy transition, and I am confident that together we can make Thacker Pass a major player in a secure, integrated North American supply chain from critical battery materials to electric vehicles.”

The $650 million from GM will be delivered in two installments. The money for the first tranche will be held in escrow pending a ruling on the judgment, which is currently pending in US District Court.

Most recently, on January 5, 2023, a hearing was held in the United States District Court, District of Nevada, on the appeal of the Thacker Pass Project Record of Decision. Lithium America said on Jan. 6 that the court had confirmed that no additional hearings or briefings were required and that a final decision would be issued “in the next couple of months.”

The second part of the money from GM will be released when Lithium America’s U.S. business and Argentina business are formally separated and when Lithium America has “sufficient capital” to be able to fully develop the Thacker Pass site, GM said.

— CNBC Pippa Stevens contributed to this report.

Inside Silver Peak, America's only working lithium mine

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