Lithium Nevada moves back the start of Thacker Pass mine construction

Confrontation with activists averted until the end of July

On January 15, 2021, the the Humboldt River Field Office of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management issued a Record of Decision (RoD) approving the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine proposed by Lithium Nevada Corporation. The project would include 5,700 acres of public lands within the project area located approximately 17 miles northwest of Orovada and 53 miles north-northwest of Winnemucca in Humboldt County.

An around-the-clock protest at the mine site began on January 19 of this year and continues today. 

On February 12, a rancher with land adjacent to the mine site filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the mine’s approval.

A coalition of conservation and public accountability groups filed federal litigation on February 26, 2021 in the District of Nevada that challenges the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the mine. 

On May 27, 2021, four conservation and public accountability groups filed for a preliminary injunction in the Federal District Court in Reno that asks the court to prohibit construction of the mine.

Today, the Bureau of Land Management and Lithium Nevada Corporation agreed on a court-enforceable stipulation. In the stipulation, the parties agreed that “Neither Lithium Nevada nor Federal Defendants will conduct any ground disturbance activities in the Project area in connection with the Thacker Pass Project as challenged in Plaintiffs’ [Western Watersheds Project, Great Basin Resource Watch, Basin and Range Watch, Wildlands Defense] Complaint before July 29, 2021.”

According to Lithium Nevada, construction work was slated to begin on June 23 of this year. Activists camped at the site have said that they will have to be forcibly removed from the proposed mine site and that they will do what they can to prevent construction from starting.

The BLM and Lithium Nevada have requested a fourteen-day extension to prepare their respective responses to the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. As part of the stipulation, the mining company agreed to not conduct any form of ground disturbance until July 29, when the Court will rule on the motion for preliminary injunction, which asks that ground disturbance/construction of the mine be prohibited until the full case challenging mine site approval can be heard and considered by the court. 

Photo credit: A panoramic view of the proposed Thacker Pass lithium mine in northern Humboldt County, Nevada – courtesy Lithium Nevada

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