This is part 2 of a two-part series. Read part 1: “Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company.”
In part 1 of this series, I told how Tiehn’s Buckwheat (Eriogonum tiehmii) is a rare species found only on ten acres of land in Nevada and how its existence is threatened by the mining activities of Ioneer, an Australian Company. I also discussed the efforts by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to save the species by petitioning the federal government and the state of Nevada to give it legal protection. Additionally, I provided information for the reader to support the Center’s efforts.
What I didn’t mention is what Ioneer is hoping to extract at the site: Lithium carbonate and boric acid.
Though a variety of industrial applications utilize lithium carbonate, demand is rising primarily due to its use in batteries, especially for electric vehicles. In other words, Ioneer’s operation could be considered part of the “green” or “clean” energy industry. Indeed, they make use of one of the monikers themselves: “Lithium is a strategic element linked directly to high technology and clean energy. It has been described as the new oil as it is a key component for batteries fueling the electric vehicle revolution.”
But “green” and “clean” don’t mean “no impact.” All extractive activities have destructive impacts on the natural environment, including lithium mining. Some would argue that fossil fuels are the worst, and that anything is better—that a lesser cost is preferable to a greater cost. Yet in this case, what is the cost?