PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed lithium developer Ioneer has reportedly struck an agreement with US-based conservationist group the Center for Biological Diversity that would see the miner cease new activities at its planned lithium mine, in Nevada.
The agreement would see the Center for Biological Diversity drop a lawsuit against the US government to challenge exploration permits awarded to Ioneer, in a bid to protect the world’s only population of the wildflower Tiehm’s buckwheat.
The Center in October last year launched legal action against the Bureau of Land Management, which subsequently terminated the two exploration permits.
Ioneer has been conducting drilling, test pits, road construction and other exploration activities near and within the Tiehm’s buckwheat habitat in anticipation of a proposed openpit boron/lithium mine in the area.
The entire global population of Tiehm’s buckwheat lies within the footprint of the proposed mine.
Ioneer has now agreed to notify the Center if it proposed any additional mining exploration or plans to build the mine. The company also agreed to use hand tools, rather than heavy machinery, for work necessary to repair the damage from exploration activities that occurred within 30 feet of one of the plant populations.
The Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in November announced a review to determine if enhanced protection under state law would be required for the Thiem’s buckwheat.
The department said that given the increased interest in exploration activity in the region, the Nevada Division of Forestry would be reviewing the need to further protect the unique species of desert wildflower under law.
Ioneer is currently undertaking a definitive feasibility study for its Rhyolite Ridge lithium/boron project, which is expected to produce 20 200 t/y of lithium carbonate and 173 000 t/y of boric acid.
The company was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.