A rural resident waits for a chance to ask a question during the county’s listening session. The county and economic development authorities plan to use resident input from the session to prepare for the potential influx of jobs and new residents involved with new businesses like Lithium Nevada’s Thacker Pass mine.
A rural resident waits for a chance to ask a question during the county’s listening session. The county and economic development authorities plan to use resident input from the session to prepare for the potential influx of jobs and new residents involved with new businesses like Lithium Nevada’s Thacker Pass mine.
Over 100 rural residents packed the Orovada Community Center on March 19 to ask questions and provide feedback regarding the significant changes on the horizon for their community from the Lithium Nevada Thacker Pass mine project.

Representatives from Lithium Nevada, Humboldt Development Authority, Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority, Humboldt County, Humboldt County School District and others joined Better City’s Adam Hughes for a listening session to hear residents’ concerns about the county’s economic development activities in the otherwise quiet communities of Orovada and King’s River. Input from the meeting will inform development of the county’s strategic plan.

“What we’re trying to do...is try to get ahead of that issue and try to address and understand and identify all the things that may be negative to your community and try to head it off at the pass and make it a positive experience all the way around,” Mendiola told attendees.

Lithium Nevada has also sent letters and held community meetings over the course of the project’s exploratory phases to get community input and answer questions. Lithium Nevada has not made the official announcement for the Thacker Pass mine. Its next steps involve the Environmental Impact Study, which will take approximately a year.

Lithium Nevada public relations executive Tim Crowley said construction of the lithium mine is expected to include around 900 temporary employees, and mine operations would require around 300 permanent employees. The county and communities will need to determine how and where to house these employees, whether they choose to live in Winnemucca and bus to the site or live in the rural areas closer to the mine site.

Jan Morrison of the NNRDA suggested finding long-term solutions for temporary issues, including developing an RV park in Orovada for the temporary employees that the community can later use to entice travelers interested in the area’s recreation opportunities. Organizing the housing ahead of time will prevent the temporary housing arrangements from devolving into a “man camp,” she said.

Residents and the county will need to discuss infrastructure needs like water and sewer.

Morrison also explained the potential for value-added agriculture in the area, so more of the county’s resources and revenue remain local rather than going out of state. One resident suggested a meat-packing plant to process cattle from local ranches.

Rural residents had concerns about the amount of water that Lithium Nevada’s operation will require, and how it will affect the water table.

An increase of residents may lead to a need for bigger facilities, including the rural schools. HCSD has land for a larger school, but residents were concerned about location, considering the increase of large vehicle traffic in that area from the mine.

Some residents also asked what the plan would be should the mine fail or the demand for lithium decline significantly. The mine’s current plan includes a 46-year mine life. Lithium is used in batteries, especially in electric cars.