On Friday, a U.S. federal court judge stated that she would rule on Sept. 3 whether Native Americans can request to block Lithium Americas Corp’s excavation of its Nevada mine site. This Nevada mine would be one of the largest sources of electric-vehicle metal.

A ruling in favor of the Native Americans could mean that the court might block the entire project. The Trump administration approved the project in January.

Chief Judge Miranda Du, a federal judge in Reno, Nevada held a Friday hearing. She decided whether Thacker Pass’s archaeological dig should be stopped. While she considered the larger question of whether approval should ever have been granted.

Tribal members claim that the mine would cause damage to ground containing ancestral bones. Federal statutes require that the digging be done in order to determine if there are any historic artifacts on the ground.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which is based in Vancouver, the tribes were not asked about their participation in the mining permitting process and they did not reveal their beliefs until after the project was approved earlier this summer.

Arwyn Carroll, a BLM attorney, stated that BLM’s outreach efforts “…have been reasonable and in good will.” “The tribes never informed BLM that Thacker Pass could possibly be this type site.”

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Tribal attorneys claim that regulators failed to reach every tribe that might have an interest in the site, particularly during the pandemic.

Du, a former President Barack Obama appointee, rejected an environmentalists request to stop digging last month, but allowed tribes to make the exact same request.

Du did not give any clues as to which direction she might rule. However, Du was repeatedly asked how Native American artifacts would have been handled if they were discovered.