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US withdraws approval for lithium exploration near wildlife refuge

LAS VEGAS, Nevada: After conservationists filed a lawsuit in court, Federal land managers have formally withdrawn their approval of Canadian mining company Rover Metals’ lithium exploration project near a national wildlife refuge in southern Nevada.

The project is located on the edge of the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge outside Las Vegas.

In the lawsuit filed on 7th July in a Las Vegas court, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Amargosa Conservancy said the project posed an illegal risk to a dozen fish, snail and plant species currently protected under the Endangered Species Act.

They also filed an additional motion this week in federal court seeking a temporary injunction prohibiting Rover Metals from initiating the drilling of 30 bore sites in search of lithium, which is used for manufacturing batteries for electric vehicles (EV).

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Land Management notified Rover Metals that its earlier approval of the company’s notice of its intent to proceed “was in error,” before a judge could rule on the request.

In a formal notice issued last week, Angelita Bulletts, district manager of the bureau’s southern Nevada district, stated, “The agency has concluded that proposed operations are likely to result in disturbance to localized groundwaters that supply the connected surface waters associated with Threatened and Endangered species in local springs.”

“BLM is rescinding the Acknowledgement of the Notice issued on 6th April because the operator cannot prevent unnecessary or undue degradation based on the record before it,” she added.

The reversal of the approval will be a temporary reprieve for the oasis in the Mojave Desert, which is home to 25 species of fish, plants, insects and snails that are found no where else, conservationists said.

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