This opinion is directed to Governor Sisolak and the Nevada Legislature: I urge you to expedite the licensing of lithium mines in Nevada. The president has stated that he wants to bring the entire lithium production and electric car battery production cycle into the United States. It’s all about climate change and the tsunami of electric car and trucks about to hit the U.S. as it already has in China and Europe. The International Panel on Climate Change and 97% of climate scientists worldwide predict that at the current greenhouse gas levels our state and the entire Southwest will see decades of hotter, drier weather, even if the world attains the CO2 reduction goals set in the Paris Climate Agreement. So, expediting the mines will help save our environment, our ranching and agriculture industries, and our wildlife. And it will produce huge tax revenues and employ thousands of Nevadans in high-paying jobs. We have a unique opportunity in Nevada to increase employment by thousands of jobs and to increase state taxes on the mine sites and related sales and property taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 40 years.
But we must expedite the building of new mines and the processing of the ores here. Right now we have one lithium mine at Silver Peak and two near the beginning construction level on the Rhyolite Ridge (Ioneer Mining) and Thacker Pass (Lithium Nevada Mining Co.). I have interviewed key members of both mining companies and this is the summary of those conversations.
The total number of construction jobs to build those mines and their ore processing facilities is about 1,600 for several years and the operational jobs are about 600 for about 40 years. The tax revenues will be in in the millions every year.
The bottom line is that we will have millions in revenues for the state and lots of high-paying jobs. And both of the mines have a very low impact on the environment and use very little water. And, of course, we already have two battery manufacturers, Panasonic at the Tesla Gigafactory and Dragonfly Energy in Reno which can use the lithium hydroxide produced at both mining sites.
If we can crank up our total production, there will be more electric battery manufacturers moving to the state. And there is already a lithium recycling company, American Battery Technology Company, in Fernley. I also discovered that there are 11 other active lithium claims being explored throughout the state. The biggest hurdle for the two mines mentioned above and the potential new mines is the multiyear process to get through the state and federal licensing procedures. For the benefit of all Nevadans and especially the rural counties I urge you to set up a state level organization to expedite the process. We are currently the Silver State but in just a few years you can change us into the Lithium State and our impact on global warming will be huge as will the impact on high paying jobs and state, county, and local revenues. John Scire, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. He has taught U.S. foreign policy, energy policy and climate change policy and other courses for over 25 years at UNR and elsewhere. This Voices article first published March 13 in the Nevada Appeal, the NNBW’s sister newspaper in Carson City.