RENO, Nevada: A U.S. federal judge has ruled against environmentalists and in favor of Lithium Americas Corp excavating at its Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada.
Lithium is used in the production of electric vehicle batteries.
The judge rejected claims by environmentalists that digging could harm wildlife.
Chief Judge Miranda Du of the federal court in Reno, Nevada, said on Friday that Lithium Americas may mine the area 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 expects to publish her decision by early 2022.
Earlier, Lithium Americas had said it would not begin mining before July 29 while Du deliberated.
The judge noted that the land that would be affected amounts to less than a quarter of an acre on a project roughly 18,000 acres in size.
Also, Du said, environmental groups were unable to offer proof of specific damage that would be caused by the digging. Environmentalists "failed to meet their burden to show they will be irreparably harmed," Du said.
Kelly Fuller of the Western Watersheds Project, an environmental group, said her organization looks forward to a hearing with Du in the future to argue that the entire mining project be canceled.