Press Releases

For Immediate Release, April 5, 2021

Contact Daranda Hinkey via our Contact Form

Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe Cancels Agreement with Lithium Mine, Promising Lawsuit

Fort McDermitt, Nevada — Opposition to lithium mining is growing in native communities in Nevada. On Monday, the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe formally resolved to cancel a Project Engagement Agreement with mining company Lithium Nevada, citing threats to land, water, wildlife, hunting and gathering areas, and sacred sites.

The Tribal Council also agreed to initiate a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management for violations of federal law in permitting the Thacker Pass lithium mine project to proceed.

These moves, from a tribal council which was previously supportive or neutral towards the mine, come after pressure from traditionalists in the Fort McDermitt community. On March 22, these traditionalists brought a petition to the tribal government asking that they “stop all partnerships with any mining company and to file a lawsuit against Lithium Nevada Corp LNC, Lithium America, Jindalee Resources Limited and any other company associated to stop the development of the proposed Lithium Mine at Thacker Pass, Nevada.”

The group cited violations of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and other laws.

Opposition to the Thacker Pass mine has been growing since January 15th, when the Bureau of Land Management approved the federal permit for the project and—on the same day—a protest camp was established on the proposed mine site. Members of the Fort McDermitt tribe have played an important role in resupplying and overseeing the camp, which is located on their traditional lands. Over the past two months, community members, elders, families, and spiritual leaders have spent time at Thacker Pass engaging in ceremony, including a 273-mile prayer walk ending at the site, and visitors have come from many nearby reservations.

The Thacker Pass mine is also broadly opposed by residents of Orovada and King’s River, two nearby unincorporated communities. One rancher has filed a lawsuit, citing impacts to groundwater, streams, and to threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout, and a local community group, “Thacker Pass Concerned Citizens,” has formed with the majority of members expressing opposition or serious concerns. A coalition of four environmental groups has also filed a lawsuit against the project, and the group “Protect Thacker Pass” setup the protect camp nearly three months ago.

The lithium industry is booming worldwide as governments shift subsidies towards electric vehicles, which are powered by lithium-ion batteries, and towards wind and solar power which often require battery storage for periods when wind stops and nighttime or clouds block the sun.

There are numerous proposed lithium mine projects in Nevada and the United States. The petition filed Monday night also mentions Jindalee Resources, an Australian mining company currently exploring for lithium deposits just north of the Oregon border, near Fort McDermitt. Another proposed lithium mine located at Rhyolite Ridge, further south in Nevada, has attracted major opposition due to an endangered wildflower on the site.

For Immediate Release, March 22, 2021

Contact Max Wilbert and Nicola Rodriguez via our Contact Form

Vancouver activists occupy Lithium Americas head office today

Vancouver, BC — Activists will be occupying the front steps of Lithium Americas’ head office at 900 West Hastings on Monday, March 22nd from 8:00 am in solidarity with American counterparts aiming to stop an open-pit mine in intact sagebrush habitat in Nevada.

“We want to make the public aware that lithium mining is extremely harmful to nature and even though lithium is an element destined for smartphones and electric cars, it’s extraction is the opposite of sustainable,” explains Nicola Rodriguez of Surrey.

The Thacker Pass mine proposal, located roughly 130 miles northeast of Reno, is one of a handful of large mining and energy projects fast-tracked by the outgoing Trump administration in what a December article in the New York Times called an “intense push” to “find ways to increase domestic energy and mining production.”

The Vancouver activists are bringing attention to a permanent protest encampment at the proposed $1.3 billion Lithium Americas mine site in Nevada, which is set up with tents, a wood stove and protest signs. “Canadians should know about this company, what they’re doing to a pristine ecosystem, and how their neighbours are resisting it,” adds Rodriguez.

Resistance to the project from Indigenous members of the Fort McDermitt Tribe, as well as local ranchers and residents is mounting. Supporters are invited to join the encampment.

Lawyer Will Falk says they mean to stay for as long as it takes to protect this old-growth sagebrush mountainside. “People might be confused about why we want to interfere with the production of electric car batteries,” says Falk. “But it’s wrong to destroy a mountain for any reason – whether the reason is fossil fuels or lithium.”

The Lithium Americas mine will harm Greater sage grouse, Lahontan cutthroat trout, burrowing owls, Golden eagles, native pollinators and Pronghorn antelope, whose migration routes would be severed by the mine. Impacts on human communities include increases in heavy truck traffic, noise and light pollution, air quality issues, and reductions in the water table. Despite Lithium America claims that this will be a “carbon neutral” mine, the project will burn some 26,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day.

Activists are demanding:

  1. The establishment of a protected area at Thacker Pass preserved for the enjoyment of future generations, for wildlife and for water quality;
  2. An immediate abandonment of the Thacker Pass lithium mine project by Lithium Americas corporation; and
  3. A sincere apology from Lithium Americas Corporation for claiming that Thacker Pass is a “green” project.

For more information, to support the campaign, or to join the occupation, visit www.ProtectThackerPass.org. Feel free to reproduce this press release in your publication.

For Immediate Release, January 25, 2021

Contact:  Max Wilbert and Will Falk via our Contact Form

Activists Occupy Site of Proposed Mine That Would Provide 25% of World’s Lithium Supply

Lithium is the miracle element powering your smartphone and under the hood of every electric car. But will batteries save the planet or cause more harm? The controversy is heating up in Nevada.

 RENO, Nevada — Activists aiming to stop Lithium Americas’ Thacker Pass open-pit lithium mine – what would be the United States’ largest lithium mine – launched a permanent protest encampment hours after the Bureau of Land Management gave final approval to the mine on January 15. The Thacker Pass project, located in northwestern Nevada, would provide 25% of the world’s lithium, a key ingredient for electric car batteries.

Despite winter conditions at Thacker Pass, protestors have erected tents, a wood stove, and protest signs. Lawyer Will Falk, who is on site, says they mean to stay for as long as it takes to protect this old-growth sagebrush mountainside.

“Environmentalists might be confused about why we want to interfere with the production of electric car batteries,” says Falk. “But, it’s wrong to destroy a mountain for any reason – whether the reason is fossil fuels or lithium.”

Max Wilbert, another organizer of the protest and author of Bright Green Lies, a book analyzing the environmental harms of renewable energy projects, says: “To protect what’s left of the natural world, we must leave minerals in the ground – not just oil and gas – and learn to live within ecological constraints as respectful members of natural communities. Humans must learn to live with less. Or, we will not live at all.”

Activists will remain in place and block all construction, mining, and road-building activities. They demand:

  1. The establishment of a protected area at Thacker Pass preserved for the enjoyment of future generations, for wildlife, and for water quality;
  2. Lithium Americas’ immediate abandonment of the Thacker Pass project; and
  3. A sincere apology from Lithium Americas Corporation for claiming that the project is “green.”

The Thacker Pass mine proposal, located roughly 130 miles northeast of Reno, is one of a handful of large mining and energy projects fast-tracked by the outgoing Trump administration in what a December article in the New York Times called an “intense push” to “find ways to increase domestic energy and mining production.”

Though Lithium Americas claims it strives “to build a business where the well-being of the local community is essential to its success,” this mine has faced objections from local residents, tribal members, ranchers, and environmental groups, who are concerned about project impacts on wildlife and rural quality of life.

Impacts on the local human community include increases in heavy truck traffic, noise and light pollution, air quality issues, and reductions in the water table. Meanwhile, project documents detail potential harm to many species.

  • The threatened Greater sage grouse, whose populations have been reduced by between 97% and 99% from historic levels, and for whom the Thacker Pass area represents the best remaining habitat in Nevada. Thacker Pass is located in the Lone Willow population management unit, which is home to between 5 and 8% of the entire global population. This project would sever a key connectivity corridor between portions of the habitat;
  • Lahontan cutthroat trout, a federally “threatened” species under the Endangered Species Act which exists in only a small fraction of its historic range, including the Quinn River basin downstream of Thacker Pass;
  • Pronghorn antelope, whose migration routes would be severed by the mine; and
  • A critically imperiled endemic snail species known as the Kings River pyrg that is known to reside in only 13 isolated springs. According to one group of scientists, “the Thacker Pass Project area might contain the entire known population of Kings River pyrg,” thereby putting the species at risk of extinction.

Other species who will be harmed by the project include Burrowing owls, Golden eagles, several bat species, native bees and other pollinators, Crosby’s Buckwheat, and rare old-growth big sagebrush.

Lithium Americas plans to build large tailing ponds for toxic waste, drill new wells, build a sulfuric acid processing plant, import more than 170 semi-loads of sulfur (a byproduct from oil refineries) per day, pump 850 million gallons of water annually, and dig an open pit of more than 2 square miles into the Thacker Pass mountainside. Despite Lithium America claims that this will be a “carbon neutral” mine, the project will burn some 26,000 gallons of diesel fuel per day.

Join the Occupation

For more information, to support the campaign, or to join the occupation, visit www.ProtectThackerPass.org. Feel free to reproduce this press release in your publication.

For Immediate Release, January 15, 2021

Contact: Kelly Fuller, Western Watersheds Project

Trump Administration Says Yes to Wildlife Extinction by Approving Thacker Pass Lithium Mine

Reno, Nev.― Today the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) approved the Thacker Pass lithium mine in northwestern Nevada. The mine will strip-mine thousands of acres of important habitat for greater sage-grouse and other wildlife. It could also push a wildlife species that has not been found anywhere else on Earth to extinction.

“Renewable energy and electric cars aren’t green if they destroy important habitat and drive wildlife extinct,” said Kelly Fuller, Energy and Mining Campaign Director for Western Watersheds Project. “The only thing that’s actually green about the Thacker Pass mine is the color of the money the project would make for its wealthy investors.”

Thacker Pass is critically important to wildlife because it connects the Double H Mountains to the Montana Mountains, and provides lower-elevation habitat that greater sage-grouse and other wildlife need to survive the winter. It contains thousands of acres of priority habitat management area (PHMA), the most important type of greater sage-grouse habitat, yet BLM has exempted the mine from many legally required sage-grouse protections. The mine is sited in the danger zone for sage-grouse leks in the Montana Mountains, one of the most important sage-grouse strongholds in Nevada. Local springs are the only place in the world where the Kings River pyrg, a rare type of springsnail, are known to live. The mine could also cut off a pronghorn migration corridor.

“The biodiversity crisis is every bit as dire as the climate crisis, and sacrificing biodiversity in the name of climate change makes no scientific or moral sense,” said Fuller. “Over the last 50 years, Earth has lost nearly two thirds of its wildlife. Habitat loss is the major cause. Humans can’t keep destroying important wildlife habitat and still avoid ecosystem collapse.”

Wildlife at risk from the Thacker Pass mine include greater sage-grouse and other birds that rely on sagebrush, golden eagles and other raptors, Lahontan cutthroat trout, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, pygmy rabbits, and the Kings River pyrg.

Site photo available upon request.

Western Watersheds Project protects and restores western watersheds and wildlife through education, public policy initiatives, and legal advocacy.

Want to get involved?

As a movement for the health of our earth, the people that live here, and the health of the ecosystems necessary for life of any kind on this planet, we are always expanding, growing, learning, and resisting. If you feel called to help Thacker Pass and/or help with related actions, we would love to hear from you!