By Bob Conrad, This Is Reno
RENO–The company behind a proposed lithium mine on the northern Nevada border calls Thacker Pass “the largest known lithium resource in the United States and the next large scale lithium mine.”
The Indigenous of the area said the Thacker Pass project is an invasion on sacred land. A gathering of about 250 people held Saturday in downtown Reno was aimed at trying to halt, or slow, a federal approval of the lithium mine 25 miles south of the Nevada-Oregon border.
Daranda Hinkey of the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe said the land is ancestral homeland.
“I think it really goes down to this taking culture of mining,” she said. “And so we’re struggling through this. Ft. McDermitt and other tribes are being used as a sacrifice zone just for these lithium-powered batteries. They are affecting our livelihoods and cultures.”
A number of people spoke at City Plaza starting at 6 p.m. Indigenous Elders gave prayers and made speeches. A rap song written about Thacker Pass was performed, as were traditional songs.
“We are not protesters, we’re protectors,” Hinkey said.
Lithium Americas, the company behind the project, said the project is expected to be low-impact mining.
“The Project has been designed to avoid environmentally sensitive and rugged terrain, which is expected to reduce permitting timelines, construction risk and costs,” the company’s website reads. “The flat and expansive terrain allows for a very compact footprint and allows for future potential expansions.”
Fast-tracking the project is part of what was being protested yesterday.
“The mine was fast-tracked, meaning the decision for its approval along with the analysis required under the National Environmental Policy Act for it, were completed on a much shorter timeframe than is typical for the permitting of a mine in the United States,” Great Basin Resource Watch, one of the groups organizing yesterday’s gathering wrote last week on its website. “The company has failed to receive community consent for the project from local communities.”
Max Wilbert has been camping at Thacker Pass since January, something he called an occupation.
“Extractive industries like mining are responsible for half the world’s carbon emissions and more than 80% of species extinctions,” he wrote last month for the Sierra Nevada Ally. “What sort of solution is mining, when to stop global warming requires ‘near-zero’ emissions, and when we’re living through the 6th great mass extinction event?”
The mine was approved in the last days of the Trump administration. There are two pending lawsuits against the project.