Nevada’s vast lithium deposits offer economic opportunity, difficult decisions – by Daniel Rothberg (The Nevada Independent – February 19, 2023)

Nevada, as with other arid parts of the globe such as Chile and Argentina, is awash with lithium. The soft, silvery white mineral is in high demand as a key component of batteries used to power electric vehicles in the transition away from fossil fuel-based economies.

For years, state officials have positioned Nevada as the central node in the domestic lithium supply chain, a place to extract, recycle and market the metal. But the new increasing demand — how it plays out and where mining is permitted — could have major consequences for local communities, the environment, public land and the management of a critical resource: water.

The so-called “lithium rush” is on in Nevada, but it could take years to sort through the often conflicting issues. “There really isn’t a rush,” said Mike Visher, who leads the Nevada Division of Minerals, when asked about bringing more mines online. “These projects generally take more than a decade.”

Companies face extensive permitting requirements, and regulators are being forced to confront difficult decisions about what to prioritize amid intense pressure from investors and the public.

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