Game hunters have discovered America’s need for lithium. Maine won’t let them dig.


Mary and Gary Freeman, founders of a Florida-based lab supply company; While searching for tourmaline, he found a rich lithium deposit in MaineA stunning, multicolored gemstone found in the region. The timing of their discovery is important because it could provide the United States with a domestic source of lithium for the clean energy transition and cost $1.5 billion. However, there is strong opposition to mining. “Maine has some of the strictest mineral and water quality standards in the country, and prohibits mining for metal in open pits larger than three acres,” TIME reported. “There has been no active iron ore in the state for decades, and no company has applied for a permit in 2017 after a particularly strict law was passed.” Slashdot reader schwit1 shares an excerpt from the report: His hometown of Warren — a 45-minute drive from the capital city of Augusta — recently voted for state House of Representatives Bill Plucker, who said it’s a story that’s been playing out in Maine for generations. A Canadian company has strongly advocated a temporary ban on industrial metal mining after it came to prospect for minerals near a popular local pond. “We build industries based on the needs of people who don’t live here, and then the bottom falls out, and we have a hard time picking up the pieces again.” State Representative Margaret O’Neill, who introduced a bill last session that would have halted lithium mining for five years, said that “our gold rush mentality about oil has exacerbated the climate crisis” (the bill ultimately failed). “As we prepare to transition away from fossil fuels, we need to examine the risks of lithium mining and consider whether the benefits of mining here in Maine justify the risks.”

Freeman’s Point said they plan to mine the spodumene, then ship it out of state for processing, so there are no chemical ponds or tailings piles. They liken mining to quarrying granite or limestone. In the US, mining advocates argue that because the country moves most of its mining to places without strict environmental and labor regulations, the harms are now borne by foreign residents, putting US producers in a precarious position by relying on distant sources. For the minerals they need. Although there are more than 12,000 mines in the U.S., most are for rock, coal, sand, and gravel.

The United States has one operating lithium mine in Nevada and one operational rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, Calif., which means the United States is dependent on other countries for clean energy technologies such as batteries, wind turbines, and solar panels. Even after mining, those materials must now be shipped to China for processing, as America has no processing facilities. “If we’re talking about critical metals and materials, we’re crazy behind,” said Corby Anderson, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines. “The current administration is different – they have incentives for electric vehicles and all these things, but they need materials like graphite, manganese, nickel, cobalt, lithium and copper. It’s the only thing we extract and refine in this country. Copper.” Further reading: The federal decision approved the construction of the largest lithium mine in North America

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