A plan to build a lithium mine in Nevada’s Thacker Pass moved forward this week, according to E&E News’ GREENWIRE (subscription).
What’s going on: “The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management announced on Tuesday that it had finished a court-ordered review of the government’s approval of Lithium Americas’ plan to build the mine and found evidence of ‘mineralization’ under areas where the company plans to store waste.”
- “The arcane issue of where and how mine waste is stored on federal land … was a remaining hurdle for the Thacker Pass project.”
The background: Lithium Americas, which owns multiple claims at the Nevada site, is building the mine with General Motors Co.
- As more automakers embrace electric vehicles, lithium—a crucial EV component—has become harder to get, leading car companies to start investing directly in mining.
What it means: The project will now be able to start construction and production at Thacker Pass.
The bigger picture: Interior’s announcement comes amid a larger debate about the need for legislation to address the Rosemont copper mine case.
- In that situation, a district court judge in Arizona vacated the U.S. government’s approval of a proposed copper mine outside of Tucson “after finding that regulators had failed to validate Canadian firm Hudbay Minerals Inc.’s unpatented mining claims on federal land, including the 2,447-acre site where the company planned to store 1.9 billion tons of mining waste.”
- In the past few weeks, bipartisan groups of lawmakers in the House and Senate have offered measures to address the issue of mine waste. One, the Senate’s Mining Regulatory Clarity Act, would allow entities with claims on public land to mine, process and discard waste prior to proving the presence of valuable underground minerals.