As US Rushes for Energy Minerals, 1872 Law Allows Miners Free Rein

"The Mining Law of 1872 lets miners pay no royalties for the precious minerals they dig from federal land and requires no restraints on their activities."

"On the vast expanse of public lands across the West, a rush for the minerals needed for the 21st century technologies of the energy transition depends on a 150-year-old law. Those lands’ survival of the clean energy mineral rush may depend on rewriting it.

A new open pit lithium mine was approved last year at Thacker Pass in Nevada, on publicly owned land managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management, to tap into this country’s largest known deposit of the mineral, worth nearly $4 billion.

The lightest of the metals, lithium holds a charge very well and is essential for the batteries needed to store power from solar and wind energy sources and to drive the coming tsunami of electric vehicles as the world decarbonizes its economies.

But as vital and valuable as lithium is, a Canadian company called Lithium Americas, whose largest shareholders are Chinese mining companies, is getting the mineral at Thacker Pass from the American taxpayer for free. And at the end of the mine’s life, critics say, it will leave behind a mound of waste, an open pit the size of a small canyon that cannot be fully reclaimed and polluted groundwater."

Jim Robbins reports for Inside Climate News March 13, 2022.


Source: Inside Climate News, 03/15/2022