Couple in Newry, Maine Fighting to Extract $1.5 Billion in Lithium Found on Their Land
They are taking their case to Superior Court.
Let's back up. In 2021, Mary and Gary Freeman discovered what could be the world’s richest lithium deposit on their property in Newry. The Freemans own Freeman Resources which has more than 3,000 acres in Newry, Maine. Now the question is, how do they get to the lithium? The Maine Monitor reported the lithium deposit which made international news. They have been following this case and the appeals.
Maine has some of the strictest mining laws in the country.
Lithium literally makes the world go around. It's a hot commodity used batteries, cell phones, stove tops, and other goods. But the Freemans can't get to it. In July the Maine Department of Environmental Protection classified the lithium-bearing crystal, spodumene, as a metallic mineral. That would make it impossible to mine because Maine law bans mining for metals in open pits bigger than three acres.
The entire process is more confusing than your 401k. Right now they are appealing the decision from the DEP. There are so many issues. What department has jurisdiction over the mining request, what is lithium categorized as, and how the heck do you get $1.5 billion worth of lithium out of a mountain without a devastating environmental impact? They could do underground mining, but that makes no sense since many of the crystals are exposed. Open pit mining would be the only cost-effective way to get them out, but again...those pesky laws.
This could all come down to the phrasing of the 2017 Maine law that refers to 'metallic mineral.' Most minerals have some metallic elements, but that's where there's wiggle room. Is spodumene a metal or a rock? If it's a rock that falls under quarrying regulations, not mining. Big difference! The Freemans want to excavate the 'rocks' out and then let someone else process the lithium out of it.
Stay tuned as this fight has only just begun...