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Wed Apr 7, 2021, 12:46 PM

The rise of electric vehicles is disrupting life in a small Western community

People rarely talk about the quiet on northern Nevada’s Thacker Pass, although besides the rolling, sage-filled hills below the Double H and Montana mountains and the empty, so-blue-it-hurts-a-little sky, the quiet demands your attention.

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This corner of northern Nevada is not often the subject of both local and national news stories. But the valley has erupted in controversy the past few months as Lithium Nevada moved onto the next stage of its proposed lithium mine on Thacker Pass.

As the country tackles ambitious new climate change goals, lithium production — a key mineral for the batteries that power electric vehicles — is slated to be a part of that future. But people like Muratore are beginning to question what the cost will be to realize a greener future and the community they believe could be destroyed in the process.

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With the final environmental impact statement completed by the Bureau of Land Management, the day the operation might break ground (aside from the dirt roads and weather station already in place) seems ever nearer. Ranchers in the communities of Orovada and King’s River are fighting the mine (Muratore joined Great Basin Resource Watch, an environmental group that filed a lawsuit) and activists have been rotating in and out of the proposed site, staging an occupation.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/the-rise-of-electric-vehicles-is-disrupting-life-in-a-small-western-community/ar-BB1fna59?li=BBnb7Kz

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 12:48 PM

1. Environmentalists and ranchers making common cause?

Isn't that one of the signs of the Apocalypse?

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Response to gratuitous (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 12:53 PM

2. I hope the company gets lost

We do not need to destroy our country for batteries. Find somewhere else to drill who may welcome you.

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Response to jimfields33 (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:12 PM

4. So we should destroy other countries?

I hope that's not what you are saying.

One nice thing about having domestic lithium sources is that it increases the security of our own nation, and maybe with stronger environmental and labor laws can extract lithium in less destructive ways.

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Response to hunter (Reply #4)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:50 PM

11. I meant a different area in the U.S.

Perhaps an area already destroyed.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:02 PM

3. Water is going to be a major problem

Processing requires 500,000 gallons of water per ton of lithium extracted
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-environment-impact

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:14 PM

5. The right wing only "cares" about the environment when they are personally affected.

The other 95% of the time, they are in favor of pollution.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:16 PM

6. It'll change that little corner all right. It'll be the second lithium mine

in the nation (also in NV). This is reportedly the U.S.'s biggest deposit of high-grade lithium, and the planet's second largest. The mine'll be near a highway on public lands, some of which presumably are now being used for desert cattle grazing. It will be an open pit mine and is expected to create 300 permanent jobs, and 1000 during construction.

That woman who loves her home as it is will no longer be able to hear a neighbor's step in the snow a mile away, and that is a shame.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:26 PM

7. This is why EVs are not necessarily the right solution.

The demand for Lithium, Cobalt and other elements that must be mined somewhere is growing at a record pace.

The problem is that mining those minerals creates huge environmental risks. We don't normally see such mining, since most of it takes place in second and third-world nations, out of sight and out of public awareness. We don't like mining in the United States, because it is a nasty industry that must destroy natural places to obtain the ore being sought.

So, demand is triggering plans to mine lithium here. But, at what cost to the environment?

Are we sure this is what we want to do? I'm not.

Here's a lithium processing facility. Lithium is mined in old salt deposits from dry lakebeds. It goes through a process of evaporative concentration in water based brines:

https://thumbor.forbes.com/thumbor/711x511/

Here's a photo of an proposed Tesla open pit lithium mine on the bed of an ancient dry lake bed:

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #7)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:58 PM

12. Because lithium is more prevalent in basically large salt flats...

They think they can sell it as, it's huge dry desert with no plants or animals to compromise environmentally. Which is obviously flawed thinking at its core. And lithium is only a temporary solution as you stated. The worlds easily available lithium supplies could very well run out before Bidens 2050 carbon neutral plan. That would force the mining of lithium from harder to get to deposits and result in far more destructive environmental impacts down the line. Hopefully with foresight and learning from past mistakes we can keep developing new and more efficient ways of extracting energy from the natural world to meet demand. But that doesn't seem to be human nature

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:28 PM

8. Lithium extraction and the environmental impacts of it are going to be a big issue going forward

The amount of batteries needed to power EV is expected to increase exponentially as more and more people and companies shift from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.

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Response to inwiththenew (Reply #8)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:47 PM

10. Indeed they will.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 01:43 PM

9. With Chile, Bolivia and Argentina holding the largest known deposits in the world...

thus far (and those deposits are roughly along the shared borders of those 3 countries) it makes one wonder if the recent increase in political upheaval in those countries isn't being driven, at least in part, by the large potential cash cow they have. It will be extremely unfortunate if those countries divert the potential wealth from this resource to a totalitarian minority ruling class in control of the government and big mining corporations instead of a more non corrupt democratic form of government that could possibly funnel that money back into the already impoverished majority class. There's already signs that big multi nationals and foreign governments are playing politics in these countries for their own greed.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 02:05 PM

13. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one" - Spock

Sorry, rugged individualists.

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Response to Yo_Mama_Been_Loggin (Original post)

Wed Apr 7, 2021, 02:12 PM

14. Lithium is easily recycled

Mining it is important, but after a batter dies, something like 97% of the lithium in it can be reused. So demand of lithium mining could end up being quite small in a couple decades.

Making these mines more mindful and environmentally friendly should also be a priority though.

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