Friday, 4 June 2021 – Emerging lithium-boron producer ioneer Ltd (‘ioneer’ or the ‘Company’) (ASX: INR) today commented on the 12-month finding issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regarding Tiehm’s buckwheat, as was required under a recent court stipulation agreed upon by ioneer, FWS and the Plaintiffs.
FWS has found, based on the information currently available and due to severe drought conditions and herbivory (where animals are eating plants), that an investigation into an Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing of Tiehm’s buckwheat is “warranted.” FWS will promptly publish a proposed rule to list Tiehm’s buckwheat (by September 2021 as agreed upon by court stipulation), at which time a period of public comment will commence.
ioneer Managing Director Bernard Rowe said:
“We fully support and share FWS’s commitment to protect and preserve Tiehm’s buckwheat. The latest finding was in line with our expectations, and we support the FWS’s deliberations on a final listing decision. This process will provide greater certainty around our schedule and diminishes the prospect of future litigation.
It’s important to note the 12-month finding is influenced by potential impacts to the plant from climate change, recent herbivory and mining activity, but does not consider conservation measures to minimize and mitigate for those impacts, which are still being developed. ioneer continues its work with FWS, U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and scientific experts on the development of a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) to further its protection of the plant.
From the commencement of our Rhyolite Ridge Project planning, we have undertaken significant work and investment to minimize and mitigate any impact on Tiehm’s buckwheat, as we have done with all environmental aspects of our operation.
As previously noted by FWS, the plant is specifically under threat from ongoing drought, and unusual acts of herbivory by small mammals. ioneer is fully committed to assisting in the research, development and roll out of required protection measures to ensure Tiehm’s buckwheat’s conservation.
FWS is authorized by the ESA to issue an incidental take permit for activities it finds will not jeopardize continued existence of an ESA-listed species. Our protection and conservation efforts are being designed to meet that standard to maximize protections. The listing status does not affect the protections ioneer is planning for Tiehm’s buckwheat. By the time FWS is ready to make a final listing decision, we expect the CCA to be in place and plant conservation measures to be underway.
We acknowledge and appreciate the valuable scientific work that is being undertaken by the federal agencies, including the FWS and BLM, to ensure decisions and conservation measures regarding this important species are based on the best available science.
ioneer remains committed to the protection of Tiehm’s buckwheat irrespective of its listing status, and will implement the highest standard of measures to ensure that the species is protected. We remain confident that the science strongly supports the coexistence of our vital lithium operation and Tiehm’s buckwheat.”