As water erupts from lithium exploration site, so do fears over project

By Jennifer Yachnin, Hannah Northey | 03/15/2024 01:33 PM EDT

The spill at Anson Resources’ direct lithium extraction project has reignited environmentalists’ questions about the risks to Western groundwater and surface water supplies as companies look for the key EV battery mineral.

The Green River, a tributary of the Colorado River, flows on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, in Green River, Utah. An Australian company and its U.S. subsidiaries are eyeing a nearby area to extract lithium. The company has also applied for rights to freshwater from the Green River. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson)

The Green River, a tributary of the Colorado River, flows in January in Green River, Utah. Brittany Peterson/AP

This story was updated Sunday, March 17.

After a test site in southeastern Utah erupted with brackish waters this month, critics of a new technique to mine lithium are once again raising questions about whether the process could contaminate water supplies across the West or stress already limited resources.

An exploratory well at the Green River Lithium Project, near the small town of Green River, overflowed with “mildly brackish” water on March 8, according to A1 Lithium, a subsidiary of Australian company Anson Resources.


The unanticipated surge of water from an aquifer 1,500 feet underground totaled nearly 10,000 barrels, or about 420,000 gallons, the company said in statement.