Thacker Pass mine issued three environmental permits

Thacker Pass mine issued three environmental permits
A group of Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribal descendants walk through Thacker Pass protesting development of a lithium mine. (Courtesy photo by Daranda Hinkey)

CARSON CITY — Nevada’s Division of Environmental Protection last week issued three permits for the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine in northern Humboldt County. NDEP officials said the permits were issued after extensive review which included public comment and “extensive engagement” with representatives of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe leadership.

Tribal members for months have protested the use of land near Thacker Pass for the mine saying it is sacred land.

Three tribal organizations, including the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, Winnemucca Indian Colony and “People of Red Mountain,” have filed a federal lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management for what they say is failure to consult with the Tribes before approving the mine project spearheaded by Lithium Americas Corporation.

“The three permit approvals follow a rigorous and comprehensive permit application review and revision process, including a series of public meetings beginning in April 2021, review and response to hundreds of public comments, as well as extensive engagement with representatives of the Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone Tribe leadership, community residents, and other Nevada stakeholders,” NDEP said.

Based on those reviews, NDEP officials said they believe the mine “can operate in a manner that protects public health and the environment, including air, land, and water quality.”

The three permits issued are:

  • Clean air permit, which requires testing, monitoring and reporting to ensure mine emissions meeting federal and state air quality standards, along with other requirements.
  • Water pollution control permit, which bans mining into the regional water table and requires investigation and monitoring of groundwater depth.
  • Mine reclamation permit, with requires Lithium Nevada to secure more than $47 million in financial assurance to restore the land back to productive use after the mine closes.

Operations of the mine will be overseen by NDEP officials as part of the permit requirements, which includes regular inspections at least quarterly, if not more often.

Source: NDEP