Feds: Nevada lithium mine would protect endangered plant

By Michael Doyle, Hannah Northey | 04/16/2024 01:31 PM EDT

BLM’s new draft environmental impact statement for a proposed mine projects a positive impact for the endangered Tiehm’s buckwheat plant.

Tiehm’s buckwheat.

Tiehm’s buckwheat is a rare desert wildflower that grows in Nevada. Patrick Donnelly/Center for Biological Diversity

Fencing, locked gates and dust-dampening measures will help protect the endangered Tiehm’s buckwheat from the impacts of an ambitious open-pit lithium and boron mine proposed for rural Nevada, according to a draft environmental impact statement made public Tuesday.

While the plant’s desert habitat would be disturbed by construction of the Rhyolite Ridge project, the draft EIS identifies multiple steps that Ioneer, the mine developer, would take to minimize and mitigate the potential damage. The company also modified its original plan to reduce the environmental impact.

But before the digging starts, the draft EIS must survive the scrutiny that’s already heating up.


“I would say it’s disappointing, that they think this type of thing would fly,” said Patrick Donnelly, Great Basin coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity, adding that “there’s a number of impacts that are totally the same,” even with the modifications.