“Huge” Lithium Deposits in Oregon Face Opposition

One of the biggest lithium deposits in the United States, and possibly the world, has been found in Oregon, and Jindalee Resources Limited, an Australian company, is going all in.  

In March, the company released a report titled “HUGE LITHIUM INTERCEPTS AT McDERMITT” saying it had found “significant” mineralization after testing.   

By mid-April the company announced its plans to “focus its efforts exclusively on the acceleration of exploration and development activities at its world class McDermitt Lithium Project, one of the largest lithium deposits in the United States,” citing bipartisan support and “favorable political climate in the United States.”  

What the announcement does not include is how environmentalists and native tribal organizations have been trying to stop lithium mining in the area because of its impact on natural food and water supplies, hazardous waste, and the damage it would do to ancestral lands. The Thacker Pass mine, across the border in Nevada, has already seen court action and protest camps, almost as soon as drilling began.  

People of Red Mountain — members of the Pauite and Shoshone tribes against the mining — have said they will protest the Oregon site, located in the south of Malheur County, as well. 

“From the start, our main goal is to stop the Thacker Pass Lithium Mine by Lithium Nevada,” an Instagram post says. “We will continue this work, as well as look at the upcoming McDermitt Lithium Mine by Jindalee Resources Limited.” 

Lithium is an ingredient used in batteries, especially those being touted for powering electric vehicles as a way to wean Americans off fossil fuels. But some say mining lithium isn’t a “clean” energy process. 

“We deeply oppose President Biden’s executive order for the Defense Production Act for precious minerals,” said Fort McDermitt Paiute and Shoshone tribal member Day Hinkey. “I believe this is going to be the second coming of environmental destruction. The first we’re in now is the climate crisis from the fossil fuel industry, and I believe this next one will be lithium mining.” 

By Peggy Perdue