U.S. judge rules Lithium Americas may excavate Nevada mine site

A haul truck carries a full load at a mine operation near Elko, Nevada May 21, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

A U.S. federal judge has ruled that Lithium Americas Corp (LAC.TO) may conduct excavation work at its Thacker Pass lithium mine site in Nevada, denying a request from environmentalists who said the digging could harm sage grouse and other wildlife.

The ruling marked a rare win for a U.S. critical minerals project as environmental groups increasingly pressure courts and regulators to block mining projects, even if they produce metals key to building electric vehicles. read more

Chief Judge Miranda Du of the federal court in Reno, Nevada, said late on Friday that the digging – needed to determine whether the land holds historical import for Native Americans – may proceed while she determines the broader question of whether former President Donald Trump’s administration erred when it approved the project in January. Du said she will try to publish her decision by early 2022.

Vancouver, Canada-based Lithium Americas had agreed not to dig before July 29 while Du deliberated. It was not immediately clear if the company now intends to start digging on that date. Company representatives could not be reached for comment.

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