Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Native Americans recoiling in horror at plans to desecrate their lands, by extracting the minerals and building the transmission lines President Biden needs to fulfil his promised green energy revolution.
As miners chase clean-energy minerals across the West, tribes fear a repeat of the past
Dec. 28, 2021 at 2:21 pm Updated Dec. 28, 2021 at 5:33 pm
“They used to say you could walk across the river on the backs of salmon,” he said one rainy autumn morning as he tallied and measured the depleted stocks of young Chinook salmon that hatch in these mountain creeks. “Now, it’s totally different. It’s devastating, if you think about it.”
President Joe Biden came into office vowing to safeguard Native American resources like these and uphold the rights of tribes. But in the rolling headwaters of central Idaho, where mining interests have long overrun tribal rights, the administration’s promise is colliding with another priority: starting a renewable energy revolution.
Perpetua says its Idaho mine holds enough antimony to one day power 1 million homes using hulking batteries linked to solar farms. Perpetua and its partner, battery-maker Ambri, say the batteries could revolutionize America’s power grids.
But the batteries are a new technology that have yet to prove their effectiveness in the real world. And it will likely be at least another five years before any Perpetua project is able to deliver any antimony.
The tribes say the mines would damage their lands, siphon scarce water and desecrate burial grounds and ceremonial sites.
The article mentions President Trump wanted to fast track approval for the mine. A priority for President Trump was reducing US dependence on foreign supplies of strategically sensitive minerals, and Antimony is one of those minerals. Antimony is an essential component of military infrared sensors, such as night vision and targeting systems. Antimony is also used to create durable electronic solder alloys, and sheathing for electronic cables, and plenty of other advanced applications.
President Biden initially deferred President Trump’s approval for the mine, but the Native Americans are worried Biden might be about to backtrack on his promise to protect their lands.
Regardless of the fate of Perpetua’s proposed mine, the Native Americans are correct in their belief that a vast expansion of mineral extraction could be imminent. Biden is going to need a lot more than one controversial antimony mine to build his net zero green revolution.