Yesterday, an international group of individuals who are “directly facing the effects of lithium extraction or are a part of organizations working alongside these frontline communities,” released a statement in support of the directly affected communities of the proposed Thacker Pass lithium mine, according to a press release from Great Basin Resource Watch. The signatories are demanding that all ground-breaking at the Thacker Pass mine site be halted. 

“We demand that Peehee Mu’huh / Thacker Pass–and the whole communities whose well-being are inextricably connected to it–not be sacrificed for alleged global warming mitigation against their will through the breaking of ground at the site,” reads the statement. “As the People of Red Mountain and members of the agricultural communities have articulated many times in many different forms, the construction and operation of the Thacker Pass lithium mine would cause irreparable harm to a culturally significant area/sacred site on traditional Paiute and Shoshone land, to agricultural livelihoods, and to individual and communal ways of life.”

On August 27, 2021, U.S. District Court of Nevada Judge Miranda Du heard arguments on a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to prevent any further disturbance to the proposed Thacker Pass site until the entire case against the mine can be heard on its merits.

Plaintiffs argued that any further digging or drilling on the site will cause irreparable harm. The mine developer, Lithium Nevada, contends it cannot complete the site’s cultural assessment without doing some digging on roughly 1/10th of an acre of the 12,000-acre site.

On September 3, in a written decision, Judge Du denied the motion to prevent further excavation.

The international YLNM (Yes to Life No to Mining) lithium group is composed of people from places in Chile, Serbia, Portugal, Nevada, California, Australia, Spain, and the UK who oppose the negative impacts of existing lithium mining or who are fighting proposed lithium mines. 

Ramón M. Balcázar is one of the members of the YLNM network, who works at the Plurinational Observatory of Salares Andinos in opposition to mines in Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia’s salt flats from lithium extraction.

“​​As we can see in Nevada, the expansion of lithium mining reproduces colonialism not only in Latin America but also in stolen lands in so-called developed countries,” Balcázar said. “If this is the cost of having electric cars for the most polluting countries of the world, maybe we need to find other ways for clean and just mobility, and those ways are probably beyond green capitalism.”

Mirko Nikolić is a postdoctoral scholar at the Institute for Culture & Society, Linköping University in Sweden/Serbia. He is also a signatory on letter issued yesterday and a member of the YLNM-Lithium Group.

“Our planet is home to an astonishing multitude of plant, animal, human communities and living environments. Toxic and exploitative extractivist system keeps trying to separate us from our communities and Nature, and plunges us deeper into climate and socio-ecological chaos that it caused in the first place,” Nikolić said. “A true and just transformation will be led by communities and imbued by our knowledge to meet the specific needs and realities of the places we inhabit and care for. Through this work in our respective places, we will be able to join paths towards regenerating the Earth community of justice and solidarity.”


Top image caption and credit: A protect Thacker Pass flag flies at the proposed lithium mine site on April 10, 2021 – photo: Brian Bahouth/the Ally