In these brief series, Max Wilbert explores the #ThackerPass Litium Deposit in Humboldt Count, Nevada which will serve as a lithium clay mining development project  proposed by the Nevada government and federal agencies. This project will compromise the flora, fauna and streams of the area just for the sake of “clean” energy and profit.

By Max Wilbert

This is the first video dispatch from my trip to the area of two proposed lithium mines in Nevada. I’m working to build awareness of the threats these projects pose and resistance to them. I’ll have more to share next week.

This video comes from the top of a ridge directly to the east of the proposed Rhyolite Ridge open-pit lithium mine in Southern Nevada. After arriving by moonlight the night before, I scrambled up this rocky ridge in the dawn light to get an overview of the landscape. Everything that you see here is under threat for electric car batteries.

This is habitat for Tiehm’s buckwheat, cholla cactus, sagebrush, rabbitbrush, prairie falcon, desert bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, jackrabbit, ring-tailed cat, and literally hundreds of other species.

Is it worth destroying their home and their lives for electric cars?

This is the traditional territory of the Walker River Paiute, the Agai-Dicutta Numa, and other bands of the Northern Paiute.

What killed 14,000 critically endangered buckwheat plants at the site of a proposed lithium mine to supply critical minerals for the so-called “green” electric vehicle industry?

This video reports from Rhyolite Ridge in western Nevada, traditional territory of the Walker River Paiute, the Agai-Dicutta Numa, and other bands of the Northern Paiute.

Was it rodents, or was it vandalism? Climate catastrophe or eco-terrorism?

Benjamin R. Grady, the President of the Eriogonum Society, said in a letter that “As distasteful as it is to consider, intentional human action may have caused the demise of thousands of E. tiehmii individuals over the course of two months from July to September 2020. Having studied this genus since 2007, I have visited hundreds of different Eriogonum populations across the American West. Never once have I seen this type of directed small mammal attack at any of those sites. To me, the widespread damage to just E. tiehmii plants was remarkable. The timing of this attack is also suspicious. The threat of a large-scale lithium mine has recently thrust E. tiehmii into the spotlight. This species has been monitored since the early 1990’s and this type of widespread damage has not been documented. While on site on the 23rd of September, I did not notice any scat, with the exception of a few scattered lagomorph pellets. I carefully examined uprooted plants and no actual herbivory was noticed. The green to graying leaves were unchewed and intact. Eriogonum species likely offer little reward of water or nutrients at this time of year.”

Either way, this video is a crime-scene investigation from the middle of the proposed open-pit lithium mine at Rhyolite Ridge, in western Nevada on traditional territory of the Walker River Paiute, the Agai-Dicutta Numa, and other bands of the Northern Paiute.

We don’t know what happened to these plants, but it is clear that they deserve protection. Ioneer’s plan to build an open-pit lithium mine at this site must be resisted.

Reporting from #ThackerPass #Nevada – site of a massive proposed lithium mine. Nevada government and federal agencies have fast-tracked the sacrifice of this mountainside in favor of a $1.3 billion dollar mine that could produce tens of billions in profits. Meanwhile, local streams will be polluted, Lahontan cutthroat trout spawning grounds will be smothered under radioactive sediment, Pronghorn antelope migration routes blocked, Greater sage-grouse habitat blasted to nothing, local people will have to deal with acid rain, ancient cultural sites will be desecrated, and this quiet wilderness will be turned into an industrialized zone — unless the project is stopped.

To learn more about the Thacker pass, check out this article and this website. Watch more of Max’s videos here.