We are heading towards a future of massively increased mining if we cannot change direction

The plan to “electrify everything” that is rapidly taking over all economic and policy planning around the world means that mining for metals and minerals will increase dramatically to supply demand for technologies like EVs and so much more.

Metals Demand

Take a look at this image from the International Energy Agency (IEA) report “The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions“, and you can see how the demand for various metals and minerals will skyrocket in the coming decades. The IEA writes in this report that “Clean energy transitions will have far-reaching consequences for metals and mining.”

And, as we’ve posted here before, they write: “…mineral demand for use in EVs and battery storage is a major force, growing at least thirty times to 2040. Lithium sees the fastest growth, with demand growing by over 40 times in the SDS by 2040, followed by graphite, cobalt and nickel (around 20-25 times).” (SDS refers to a Sustainable Development Scenario tool the IEA uses to project demand for energy to meet the various scenarios laid out under the Paris Climate Agreement goals.)

In a separate report, “Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector“, the IEA writes: “The energy transition requires substantial quantities of critical minerals, and their supply emerges as a significant growth area. The total market size of critical minerals like copper, cobalt, manganese and various rare earth metals grows almost sevenfold between 2020 and 2030 in the net zero pathway. Revenues from those minerals are larger than revenues from coal well before 2030. This creates substantial new opportunities for mining companies.”

They write “substantial new opportunities for mining companies” as if it’s a good thing. As if all of this mining isn’t destroying life on planet Earth. How policy makers and the corporations with they work with can go forward with these plans without seeing the devastation that they will cause is just incomprehensible.

Metals mining alone causes > 50% of all environmental pollution annually in the US. This % is likely to increase dramatically with the prospects of the fast growing mining sector thanks to Biden’s executive order to ensure domestic supplies of metals and minerals.

Mining is the most destructive human activity on Earth. Those who promote “net zero”, “clean energy”, and “clean technology” like EVs want MORE of this destructive activity at a time when we know that we are in a sixth mass extinction, that habitat loss and over development are causing far more species and biodiversity loss than any other factor, and that without healthy, clean, intact ecosystems on Earth we doom ourselves along with countless other species on Earth to certain extinction.

Some have said that the Thacker Pass Lithium mine is a “benign” mining project, especially in comparison to other kinds of mining, like copper mining. But as you can see from the image above from the IEA report, EVs require large amounts of copper, which will lead to an increase in copper mining. Lithium is just one of many metals and minerals required by “clean technology” such as EVs, so you can’t separate a supposedly “benign” lithium mine from all those other kinds of mines: they go hand-in-hand, because if you want to build EVs you need all of these materials too, not just lithium.

(Note that we do not see the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine project as any more “benign” than any other kind of mine — digging a massive pit in the ground and piling toxic waste rock and tailings on the land destroys the land no matter what kind of mine it is.)

Reducing energy demand is mentioned only once, as a passing thought, in the 224 page Net Zero report and only once in the 287 page Role of Critical Minerals report.

Art by Kim Gillis: The blood of the Earth and all who have been sacrificed to mining, car culture, and industrialization. Thank you Kim!


Legal Update from the Hearing in Reno, July 21

In a video from Thacker Pass this morning, Max describes the status of the legal efforts to Protect Thacker Pass / Peehee Mu’huh.

Yesterday, a judge in the federal court in Reno heard arguments on a preliminary injunction motion filed against the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Lithium Nevada Corporation (LNC) by the four environmental organizations who are suing the BLM and LNC. The lawsuit claims the Record of Decision by the BLM violates the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). On June 8, the group filed the injunction motion to prevent the BLM and LNC from proceeding with mine construction until their lawsuit is heard in court.In court yesterday, the judge heard arguments from the BLM and Lithium Nevada, as well as lawyers for the four environmental groups. The judge did not decide on the injunction motion yesterday, but we expect a decision on this motion by July 29.

On Tuesday, Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain filed a motion to intervene in this case. This means that Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain want to join the lawsuit against BLM and LNC as plaintiffs.

The motion to intervene brings new arguments to the case that fall under the National Historic Preservation Act. Under this law, the federal government is required to consult with native tribes with connections to the land before digging in or mining the land. We believe there is a strong case that the federal government has violated this law. We expect the judge to decide whether to let Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain intervene in the case in the next couple of weeks.

The National Historic Preservation Act is not a strong law for protecting the land. The law does not say corporations can’t dig up a place or mine a place; it just says that the federal government must consult with tribes prior to permitting the digging and mining of a place. The government is not obliged to deny the permit even if the people with whom they consult are opposed to the mining of the land. This law is colonial law: it gives the federal government jurisdiction over land, which, in the case of Thacker Pass / Peehee Mu’huh, was never formally ceded by the tribes. There is no treaty signed that covers the Thacker Pass area, so there is no legal basis for the state of Nevada or the Federal Government to claim the land, other than the doctrine of discovery, the original law of colonization and genocide on this continent.

We will continue to use all legal tools available to us to fight the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine, despite the National Historic Preservation Act being a weak law. Whether we like it or not, the court exists, the federal government believes it has jurisdiction over this land, and so we must fight the mine using these tools. But we will not count on these legal tools working, and so that is why we continue to occupy the land in opposition to the mine.

There are three key decisions we are waiting on: the judge’s decision about whether to let Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain to join the case; the decision on the injunction motion from the four environmental groups, and the decision from the BLM about whether to issue the permit for archeological digging. If the judge decides not to allow Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain to join the case and rejects the injunction motion, and the BLM decides to issue the permit, then Far Western Archeology Research Group can commence digging as soon as July 29.

However, we hope at least one of these decisions goes our way, in which case digging could be delayed until August.

Either way, we continue to occupy Thacker Pass / Peehee Mu’huh and prepare to resist any corporate activity from LNC or Far Western. We must not forget that the legal system, federal law, and regulations are all set up to allow projects like the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine to go forward, no matter the impact to the land, the water, the air, or the human and non-human communities a mine like this will have. The system is stacked against us.

We have each other! We must join together, and take advantage of any time we gain to continue to pressure the people in power, and prepare to put our bodies on the line. We will continue to pressure the Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, our representatives in government, and local officials to rescind existing permits and deny the outstanding permits for this mine, and to meet with the Reno Sparks Indian Colony and People of Red Mountain and listen to their concerns.

Join us! Call your representatives. Call the Department of the Interior. Call officials. Come to camp. Make art, write, protest. Donate.

Thank you.

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Life and Lithium at Thacker Pass

This episode of Muse Ecology is a terrific podcast with interviews with members of the People of Red Mountain, local community members, campers at Thacker Pass, and other supporters of Protect Thacker Pass. 

In this episode in the Water, Life, Climate, and Civilization series, we hear diverse voices from the resistance to the proposed lithium mine at Thacker Pass in northern Nevada, on Paiute and Shoshone ancestral lands.

Listen here: https://museecology.com/2021/07/13/23-life-and-lithium-at-thacker-pass/

The National Congress of American Indians Passes Resolution In Support of Protection of Thacker Pass

The National Congress of American Indians Resolution #AK-21-027

The resolution “Supporting the Protection of Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone Ancestors and Cultural Lands at the Thacker Pass in Nevada and Protection of Eagles by Limiting Take Permits” was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2021 Mid Year Conference of the National Congress of American Indians, held June 20, 2021 – June 24, 2021, with a quorum present.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) calls on the U.S. to uphold its trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations by engaging in robust and adequate tribal consultation on the Thacker Pass mine and another other proposed lithium mine to allow all Tribal Nations to participate consistent with the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior, and Informed Consent policy; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI opposes the Thacker Pass lithium mine and calls on the Department of Interior (DOI) Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to rescind the approval of the mine’s Plans of Operation

View full resolution.

#ProtectPeeheeMuhuh #ProtectThackerPass

Prayer Run Video: Steens Mountain to Thacker Pass

On June 25-27, 2021, the People of Red Mountain led a Prayer Run from Steens Mountain, OR to Peehee Mu’huh / Thacker Pass. This is a video of that event. The run was 143 miles and connected the homelands of the Northern Paiute at Steens Mountain to the Paiute-Shoshone people’s resistance at Thacker Pass, traversing the northern end of the McDermitt Caldera, filled with lithium and other metals and minerals and threatened with destruction from hundreds of mining claims. 

The People of Red Mountain are amazing: their care for the land and the efforts they are making to raise awareness about the fight to save Peehee mu’huh / Thacker Pass from mining are wonderful and inspiring. We are proud to stand in solidarity with the People of Red Mountain. Thank you runners!!

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Green is the New Black

Like the US, the EU is in a mad rush to replace gas-powered vehicles with EVs. The EU currently imports most of its lithium from Chile, the US and Russia, but like the US wants to develop its own supply chain so it’s less dependent on imports.

As a result there are a plethora of new mining projects springing up across Europe. As you already know from what we’ve shared on this website, these mines will have a horrific impact on the land. From a recent article:

“The plan has angered environmentalists because of what one, who did not want to be named, described as the “horrific” ecological footprint of lithium mining on soil, water and air, as well as increased carbon emissions, which, ironically, is what the EU wants to curb.

The rush for lithium, said environmentalists, is difficult to square with the EU’s desire to be a world leader in climate change and environmental legislation.

“It is not only a dichotomy, I would even go as far as saying it’s an hypocrisy, because right now we’re dealing with an issue of over-consumption that is driving the ecological and climate crisis,” said Diego Francesco Marin, environmental justice specialist at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), an umbrella group of civil society organisations.”

All across the world it seems that Green (so-called green energy) is the new Black (oil).

Join us to resist the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine and help spread the word everywhere that you can’t destroy the planet to save the planet.

#ProtectPeeheeMuhuh #ProtectThackerPass #StopTheGreenWashing #BrightGreenLies #Lithium #LithiumLies

Art by Sharon Colman, thank you Sharon!

Referenced article: https://chinadialogue.net/en/transport/eu-faces-green-paradox-over-evs-and-lithium-mining/

Habitat Destruction for Lithium is Climate and Extinction Crisis Denialism

By Justin McAffee for the Sierra Nevada Ally, July 9, 2021

What if I told you that Glenn Miller’s opinion piece about the Thacker Pass lithium project was a form of climate change denialism? He argues that lithium is necessary to convert our automobile transportation economy from fossil fuels to electric and we should move forward with the construction of the largest open-pit lithium mine in the nation’s history, indigenous people’s concerns aside, because America needs more cars. He claims this will limit global warming.

This perspective flat out denies the reality that the loss of biodiversity poses as great a risk to humanity as climate change. In fact, the loss of biodiversity contributes directly to the climate crisis. Instead of promoting the protection of biodiversity, Glenn Miller proposes we do the opposite, and destroy a large area of Nevada wilderness.

Let’s be clear: what will limit global warming is eliminating carbon pollution. He fails to mention that electric cars would draw their power from the electric grid, which is currently fueled by 70-80% fossil fuels. Maybe that will improve, but at what cost? If we listen to Glenn Miller, we must destroy vast areas of habitat, including some 9 million acres of public land in Nevada that is being opened to solar development, and many millions more in the American West. We must also engage in an explosion of mining for lithium, copper, cobalt and other rare-earth minerals. One begins to wonder whether this is a solution or a cause of climate change.

According to a study published in Science, one of the top peer-reviewed science publications in the world: “Current rates of extinction are about 1000 times the likely background rate of extinction. Future rates depend on many factors and are poised to increase. Although there has been rapid progress in developing protected areas, such efforts are not ecologically representative, nor do they optimally protect biodiversity.”

Read the rest at the Sierra Nevada Ally

The Thacker Pass Lithium Mine will Worsen the Crises we Face

In his recent opinion piece, “Thacker Pass Lithium Mine is Important for Limiting Global Warming,” Glenn Miller makes the same fundamental error so many others do these days: believing that climate change is the main crisis, rather than a symptom of the real crisis we face, which is industrial civilization and its impacts on the living world.

It’s not surprising he makes this error. The industrialists have done a lot of work in the past few years to make sure we all believe that climate change is the existential crisis we face. Once industrialists, including, yes, even fossil fuel companies, saw the writing on the wall with the increasingly dire IPCC reports coming out year after year, and the public’s escalating panic about the implications of continued fossil fuel mining and burning, they quickly jumped on the technotopia bandwagon. You know, the one that says if we can invent enough new technologies to help us deal with the problems caused by the old technologies, everything will be just fine. And of course, the corporations will be ready to sell us all these new technologies at a large profit (as well as even newer technologies to solve the problems created by the new technologies, and so on ad infinitum).

The previous decade has been one long PR campaign by the World Economic Forum, the UN, economists, governments, and of course, corporations, for technology solutions to this climate change crisis. We can replace the entire grid with wind, solar, and battery storage technologies! (Never mind that this will require 2.4 billion tons of steel, 1.9 million tons of copper, 2.6 billion tons of concrete, 133 million tons of composite fiber, 2.6 billion gallons of lubricating oil, and so much more). We can suck CO2 from the air and bury it underground with carbon capture technologies! (Never mind that this experimental technology has not been proven at scale, and besides which, where are you going to store billions of tons of CO2 underground, and who’s going to pay for it?).

READ THE REST at the Sierra Nevada Ally.

The Wildflowers vs. The Bulldozers

Two hundred years ago, the place where I sit writing these words was the site of a massacre.

According to Harley Jackson, an elder from the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe, the story goes like this.

A group of Northern Paiute / Western Shoshone / Bannock people, or Nuwu, as they call themselves in the Paiute language, were traveling and hunting through the center of their traditional territory, and camped in the broad saddle now known as Thacker Pass, which Harley calls “our main pathway.”

Drawn by the herds of antelope, deer, and elk, the strongest hunters traveled east, over the Santa Rosa Mountains and into Paradise Valley.

Most of the group remained behind. I can imagine them camped here, perhaps gathering roots and bulbs, trapping rabbits and tanning deer hides, fishing for trout in the creeks, harvesting wild bamboo for arrow shafts and willow for cradleboards and shelters, and knapping obsidian into knives, arrowheads, and other tools while telling stories around the fire.

With the hunters away, danger approached. A raiding party from another tribe – the Pit River Tribe from what is now northeastern California — came upon the family group left behind at Thacker Pass. They swept down quickly, killing those who resisted and seizing the rest as captives to take back to their territory.

When the Nuwu hunters returned from Paradise Valley, they found disaster. A full moon shone above Thacker Pass, and the rotting entrails of their relatives were spread out across the sagebrush.

This is why, in Paiute, Thacker Pass is called Peehee mu-huh, or “rotten moon.”

READ THE REST at The Sierra Nevada Ally