By Rebecca Wildbear

The citizens of Orovada meet each week to discuss the mine. Lithium Nevada representatives were there last time. They came to put the minds of local citizens at ease. They were going to construct and operate this mine safely.

“Sulphur is natural,” they said. “Our drivers are careful.”

“Sulfur is waste. It comes from oil refineries,” one woman said. “There’ll be a hundred trucks a day.”

“Driving through our town and past our kids’ school,” another woman spoke. “How will you keep our children safe?”

“Lots of people are excited about this mine,” a Lithium Nevada representative responded.

Some folks grumbled. “Who?” they asked.

“The people in Winnemucca,” he answered.

“They live an hour away,” a woman responded.

“They will have jobs,” he said.

“Burning sulfur toxifies the air and water,” a rancher said. Others nodded.

A leaflet on the table unveiled Lithium Nevada’s lies about water use. They say their mine will “reduce water use by 23%,” but they fail to mention their plan “to transfer water rights without taking any reductions,” diverting it to a 17,000+ acre pit and converting it to acid.

“Without water, we won’t be able to care for our animals,” a rancher said.

Tensions were heightened. The meeting had gone on for more than two hours. No one’s mind was eased. How can you safely poison a community?

“Enough,” said the man facilitating the conversation between Lithium Nevada and the citizens of Orovada. “It’s time for progress. We need to reconcile with this mining company. In two weeks, we’ll meet again and talk about how to proceed.”

Protesters like myself, the un-showered folk in the back of the room who have been camping at Peehee mu’huh, have often been ridiculed. This time, some locals stopped by to say “thank you for what you are doing.”

Photo by Max Wilbert