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Showing posts with the label Rare Earth Minerals

BLM Takes Another Piecemeal Step in Ivanpah

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in late November issued the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for First Solar's Stateline Solar power project, only a month after issuing the Silver State South Solar DEIS -- both projects would be built in the Ivanpah Valley.  The BLM's draft documents lay out a plan allowing First Solar to bulldoze approximately 8 square miles of ecologically intact desert habitat, but fails to present a credible conservation strategy and overlooks other major developments on the horizon in this corner of the Mojave Desert.

The BLM only proposes token conservation measures in the documents --  establishing an area of critical environmental concern (ACEC) that arguably does not even preserve habitat connectivity for the Federally-listed desert tortoise (see my last post), and an extension of a desert wildlife management area (DWMA).  Both land use changes provide substantial carve-outs for the ill-sited solar projects, rendering the conservation…

Rare Earth Mining Claims Loom Over Eastern Mojave

A review of BLM records and industry reports indicate that at least one company is consolidating old mining claims near the beleaguered Ivanpah Valley in the eastern Mojave Desert and preparing plans to start major operations.   Most of the claims being acquired date back to the 1950s, when prospectors rushed to the hills skirting the Ivanpah Valley in search of Thorium and Uranium, radioactive elements they obviously anticipated to reap financial rewards in the new nuclear age.  Thorium happens to be an element often associated with deposits of rare earth elements (REE), which are used in many of our modern luxuries, including batteries, LED lighting, solar panels, magnets, etc.

The only major mine that came of that rush in the 1950s was Molycorp's Mountain Pass mine on the west side of the Ivanpah Valley, which began producing rare earth minerals in 1952 and has expanded greatly since then.  Mountain Pass--and its history of damage to public land--may not be alone for much longe…