On September 2nd, a series of suspicious comments were posted on Protect Thacker Pass websites and social media platforms.
The comments targeted Protect Thacker Pass and specific people including Will Falk, co-founder of Protect Thacker Pass and attorney representing the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony and Summit Lake Paiute Tribe, saying things like “Folk like Will are not welcome here in a community” and “We have the best water conservation guidelines than any other jurisdiction in the USA.”
We decided to investigate and noticed several odd things.
First, the comments appeared to be from community members living in the area of Thacker Pass who support building the Thacker Pass lithium mine, but the language used in the comments is stilted, suggesting it was written by people who are not native English speakers.
Second, all the comments came from the same IP address, 18.104.22.168, which is an internet connection provided by Telstra Corporation to a location in Melbourne, Australia.
Third, all the comments used email addresses associated with lurenwu.com, a known spam domain that does not resolve a website and for which the registration info is hidden by whois privacy protection.
Our conclusion is that these comments represent a crude attempt to influence public opinion with lies, deception, and technological tricks. We don’t know who was behind this. Perhaps Ganfeng, the giant Chinese lithium corporation which is the largest shareholder of Lithium Americas? Perhaps another investor?
Whoever is behind this, their attempts have backfired. Now that we and all of our supporters are aware that this technique is being used, we will be even more suspicious than before of corruption, bribery, lies, and violence that are typical strategies for the mining industry and other extractive industries globally. Keep your eyes on the prize.
Photo: moonrise over Thacker Pass by Max Wilbert