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cline: will maine’s anti-mining laws keep needed minerals underground?

Posted: December 21 2021
In this Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 photo, a deteriorating tank sits on the site of the Callahan Mine in Brockville, Maine. It was an open pit copper and zinc mine.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

By ANDREW CLINE | November 26, 2021 at 12:19 a.m.

The Biden administration is waking up to the soaring demand for minerals and metals driven by Western nations transitioning to new energy technologies. Now events in the state of Maine are alerting them to the challenges created by state and local governments.

A years-long fight over a proposed copper and zinc mine in Maine led the state legislature to pass in 2017 what activists bragged was the toughest anti-mining law in the country.

The law banned open-pit mines larger than three acres. The Natural Resources Council of Maine, an environmental activist group that fought for the law, called it a “big win for Maine’s environment.”

That assessment is up for reconsideration in light of a new discovery. This summer, four years after the passage of Maine’s mining ban, what is being billed as the richest hard rock lithium deposit in the world was uncovered — in Maine.