Executive Summary

Humboldt County is the oldest county in Nevada that has built its economy around agriculture, mining, and tourism. Mining has been a cornerstone since the beginning, with rich mineral deposits of gold, dolomite, opal, petrified wood, and silver. Today, Humboldt County is working towards expanding its overall mineral mining portfolio to include lithium. Large lithium deposits have been identified in the McDermitt Caldera area, which presents a unique opportunity to develop a significant supply to satisfy increasing market demands.

This report aims to estimate the economic, fiscal, and community impacts of the construction and operation of a new lithium mine and lithium processing plant in Humboldt County, Nevada. The study gives data to plan for challenges and opportunities in Humboldt County and Nevada.

One of the most used secondary input-output models is IMPLAN. Initially developed by the USFS, IMPLAN is now a private modeling company (IMPLAN, 2014). IMPLAN comprises two main parts: data files and software. The IMPLAN model is reasonably flexible, allowing users to derive economic impacts and customize a model for an analysis, such as constructing a lithium mine and processing plant, and operating a lithium mine and processing plant.
The economic impacts of the Thacker Pass Project were estimated using operational and financial data for each stage of operations supplied by Lithium Americas Corp. (LAC).

Two levels of economic impact were estimated for this study. First, short-term construction impacts include capital investment to construct the mine and processing facilities. It will take 7 years to complete Phase 1 and Phase 2 construction or until the mine is producing 80,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of lithium carbonate. Second, the long-term sustainable annual investment in the mine and processing facility operations for the expected mine life of 40 years. Sustainable impacts involve stable annual purchases, wages, jobs, and taxes. Total economic impacts are calculated for Humboldt County and the State of Nevada. The results do not consider the potential for new businesses to locate and work with LAC, only the current state of local economies is reflected. As the Lithium industry develops, the economic impacts will increase, and thus additional impacts should be run after a couple of years of full operations.

Humboldt County Summary Impacts Construction (7 Year Annual Average)

  •  Every $1 of LAC capital construction investment will generate an additional $0.26 of spending in Humboldt County.
  •  Every $1 of LAC labor income, because of capital construction investment, will generate an additional $1.03 in labor income in Humboldt County.
  • Every 1 direct job created by LAC capital construction investment will generate an additional 2.3 jobs in Humboldt County.

Annual Operations (35Year Annual Average)

  • Every $1 of LAC capital construction investment will generate an additional $0.12 of spending in Humboldt County.
  • Every $1 of LAC labor income, because of LAC capital construction investment, will generate an additional $0.68 in labor income in Humboldt County.
  •  Every 1 direct job created by LAC capital construction investment will generate an additional 1.5 jobs in Humboldt County.

State of Nevada Summary Impacts

Construction (7 Year Annual Average)

  • Every $1 of LAC capital construction investment will generate an additional $0.76 of spending in the State of Nevada.
  • Every $1 of LAC labor income, because of capital construction investment, will generate an additional $3.46 in labor income in the State of Nevada.
  • Every 1 direct job created by LAC capital construction investment will generate an additional 6.0 jobs in the State of Nevada.

Annual Operations (35Year Annual Average)

  • Every $1 of LAC capital construction investment will generate an additional $0.15 in spending in the State of Nevada.
  • Every $1 of LAC labor income, because of capital construction investment, will generate an additional $1.04 in labor income in the State of Nevada.
  • Every 1 direct job created by LAC capital construction investment will generate an additional 2.2 jobs in the State of Nevada.

The proposed lithium operations will help diversify Humboldt County’s mineral industry. The development is also improving the local linkages for electricity. Also, the worldwide demand for lithium carbonate continues to outpace the supply. As clean air technology advances, the use of lithium carbonate in batteries for electric cars will continue to rise. This provides more value-added opportunities and more significant impacts on the State of Nevada. Finally, the possibility of attracting other manufacturing industries exists and may be the beginning of a cluster of industries that use lithium carbonate as part of their production process.

B. Borden, T. Harris 2023, Estimated Economic and Fiscal Impacts from New Lithium Mining and Processing Operations in Humboldt County, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno, cooperative extension, unce, unr,, Extension, University of Nevada, Reno

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Associated Programs

Thomas Harris speaking to group of Nevada Economic Assessment Project Stakeholders at an update meeting

Nevada Economic Assessment Project (NEAP)

The Nevada Economic Assessment Project focuses on providing Nevada’s counties, state and federal agencies, and their partners with quantitative and qualitative baseline data and analyses to better understand the counties’ demographic, social, economic, fiscal and environmental characteristics, trends and impacts. The data can be used for land use and project planning, grant writing and overall policy assessment.