Lithium mines should be fast-tracked

Industry will benefit state, help fight climate change

PHOTO/WIRESTOCK: The Albemarle Corporation Lithium Operation at Silver Peak, Nevada, shown in March 2020, is the only operating lithium mine in the U. S. Others are under construction or in an application process.

In this open letter to Governor Steve Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature, I urge the governor and lawmakers to expedite the licensing of lithium mines here in Nevada.

President Joe Biden has stated that he wants to bring the entire lithium production and electric car battery production cycle into the United States. It’s all about climate change and the tsunami of electric car and trucks about to hit the U.S. as it already has in China and Europe.

 The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and 97% of climate scientists worldwide predict that, at the current greenhouse gas levels, our state and the entire Southwest will see decades of hotter, drier weather, even if the world attains the CO2 reduction goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement.

Far-reaching benefits

John Scire, PhD

Expediting the mines will help save our environment, our ranching and agriculture industries, and our wildlife. And it will produce huge tax revenues and employ thousands of Nevadans in high paying jobs.

We have a unique opportunity in Nevada to increase employment by thousands of jobs and to increase state taxes on the mine sites and related sales and property taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 40 years. But we must expedite the creation of new mines and the processing of the ores. At present, we have one lithium mine at Silver Peak and two close to  beginning construction on the Rhyolite Ridge (Loneer Mining) and Thacker Pass (Lithium Nevada Mining Company).

Jobs and tax revenue

I have interviewed key members of both mining companies. In summary: The total number of construction jobs to build those mines and their ore processing facilities is about 1,600 jobs for several years and total operational jobs are about 600 over about 40 years. The tax revenues will be in the millions every year.

The bottom line is that we will have millions in revenue for the state and lots of high paying jobs.

Both of the mines have a very low impact on the environment and use very little water. We already two local battery manufacturers, Panasonic at the Tesla Gigafactory.  In addition,  Dragonfly Energy in Reno can use the lithium hydroxide produced at both mining sites.

SOURCE: Applied Analysis, “Economic and Community Impacts of the Rhyolite Ridge Lithium-Boron Project,” August 2020.

If we can crank up our total production, there will be more electric battery manufacturers moving to Nevada. And, there is already a lithium recycling company, American Battery Technology Company, operating in Fernley.

Long approval process

I also discovered that there are 11 other active lithium claims being explored throughout the state. The biggest hurdle for the two mines mentioned above and the potential new mines is the multi-year process now required to get the projects through state and federal licensing procedures.

For the benefit of all Nevadans, and especially the rural counties, I urge you to set up a state-level organization to expedite the licensing process. We have been the Silver State since 1864, but in just a few years Gov. Sisolak and Nevada’s lawmakers can change us into the Lithium State.

Our impact on curtailing global warming will be huge, and it will come with the accompanying benefits of additional high-paying jobs along with the substantial state, county, and local revenues flowing from the industry.

Dr. John Scire has a PhD in International Relations and an MBA in International Business Management, and has taught U.S. Foreign Policy, Energy Policy, Climate Change Policy and other courses for more than  25 years as an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, and elsewhere. He also has 27 years of military experience, including 12 years in the Marine Corps as an active duty infantry officer, with service in Vietnam, and 15 years in the Army Reserve in psychological warfare units.

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4 Comments

    • I am also curious about the obvious one-sidedness of this article so I did some research:
      “Lithium Americas’ mine would destroy all this [description of Thacker Pass.] If it – a corporation is an ‘it’ not a ‘they’ – has its way, 5,000 acres of Thacker Pass would be ripped open to form a pit roughly a mile long and two miles wide. The crisp, clean air would be filled with the exhaust of 11,300 gallons of diesel fuel burned per day. In the nation’s driest state, Lithium Americas plans to use 2,600 acre-feet (850 million gallons) of water annually. Hundreds of tons of sulfuric waste from distant oil refineries would be trucked in daily to produce thousands of tons of sulfuric acid needed to leach lithium from the Pass’s clay stone. To produce one ton of lithium, between 110 and 500 tons of the earth forming Thacker Pass would be strip mined and processed.
      read://https_www.protectthackerpass.org/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.protectthackerpass.org%2Fwhy-i-protect-thacker-pass%2F
      I did not vet any of this data so I hope Will Falk, the author of the article I quoted, didn’t make any of it up. In another article The Center for Biological Diversity released a statement calling on Gov. Newsom to replace all state cars with electric cars by 2030. It seems like a contradiction to call for strong measures to protect the atmosphere against global warming on one hand and blocking the development of the worlds largest known repository of Lithium on the other hand. I suppose the resolution of this conundrum can be found in the writings of Naomi Klein where she argues that the earth cannot sustain the world the West has grown accustomed to. We all need to forego individual automobiles and extensive suburbs with hundred square foot housing lots and unmeasured consumption of not only water but all of the “stuff” we see on TV that the marketers say we cannot live without. In other words “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is the mantra of the Green New Deal and consequently Thatcher Pass can be saved from rape.
      Michael

      • It’s a guest editorial, not a news article. We’ve reached out to environmental groups who have offered to contribute an opposing opinion piece and we’ll publish what we get as soon as we get it. In the meantime, we’re working on a lithium mining story that is an article. It will feature the project at Thacker Pass near Winnemucca you mention (which was hastily approved in the last days of the Trump administration). Stay tuned, and thanks for your comments.

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