By Robb M. Stewart
Lithium Americas Corp.'s shares jumped Tuesday after a federal court affirmed a permit for the company's Thacker Pass lithium project in Nevada, freeing it to begin construction.
In morning trading, the shares were 9.1% higher at C$34.40, extending the run higher so far this year to 34%.
Lithium Americas said the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada declined to vacate the federal decision to approve the Thacker Pass project, and rejected claims the project would cause unnecessary harm to the environment or wildlife.
Still, the court ordered the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to consider one issue under mining law relating to the area designated for waste storage and tailings, though the company said the court didn't impose any restrictions that are expected to affect the construction timeline.
The court ruling recognizes the Bureau of Land Management's decision to issue a federal permit, leaving place the final regulatory approval needed to move Thacker Pass into construction, President and Chief Executive Jonathan Evans said.
The court rejected arguments that the project will cause unnecessary and undue degradation to the local sage grouse population and habitat, groundwater aquifers and air quality, that the land management bureau failed to adequately consider the project's impacts to culturally or religiously significant areas, and that the bureau acted unreasonably or in bad faith in identifying tribes for consultation before approving the project, the company said.
The project in Humbolt County, Nevada, would see the construction of an open-pit mine that the company projects will initially produce 40,000 metric tons of battery-quality lithium carbonate annually, ramping up to 80,000 tons a year.
Late last month, General Motors Co. agreed to make a $650 million investment in Lithium Americas in an effort to secure supplies of lithium, a vital commodity used for batteries that power electric cars. Lithium Americas said the funds will help support the development of Thacker Pass and the company's plans to separate by creating the foundation for an independent U.S. business.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires