4 October 2021 – ioneer Ltd (‘ioneer’ or ‘the Company’) (ASX: INR), an emerging lithium-boron
supplier, welcomes the recent announcement by the US Fish and Wildlife Service
(FWS), as was expected by ioneer, that it has proposed a rule to list Tiehm’s buckwheat as
an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Today’s decision is in line with ioneer’s expectations and prior announcements, and the
Company continues to fully support the FWS’ decisions regarding the ongoing management
and protection of Tiehm’s buckwheat populations, including an ESA listing.
The decision follows an announcement in June 20211 by FWS that an investigation into an
ESA listing of the plant was “warranted.” As previously reported, in September 2020,
Tiehm’s buckwheat populations at Rhyolite Ridge were impacted by an herbivory incident,
where rodents seeking moisture amid severe drought conditions destroyed some of the
plants. ESA criteria for listing a species as “threatened” or “endangered” includes whether
it is subject to predation like herbivory or other natural or manmade factors that could affect
its continued existence.
Publication of the notice of the proposed FWS action initiates a public comment period. In
addition to considering public comments, FWS is required by the ESA to make its listing
decision based upon the best available scientific data. FWS is expected to make a final listing
decision by September 2022, as agreed upon by court stipulation.
The buckwheat species is found along the western margin of the Company’s Rhyolite Ridge
Lithium-Boron ore deposit (‘Rhyolite Ridge’ or ‘the Project’) in Esmeralda County, Nevada.
The protection and conservation of Tiehm’s buckwheat, which is already classified as a
Sensitive Species by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), is, and has always been, a
central part of ioneer’s environmental planning and approvals process for the Project.
ioneer has long anticipated the potential for the listing of Tiehm’s buckwheat as an
endangered species due to the relative rarity of the species. This has been factored into
every aspect of Rhyolite Ridge’s project planning including its design, engineering,
operational and environmental considerations.
ioneer continues to work in coordination with FWS and BLM, along with academics and
scientists, to develop the best understanding of this species and its needs, and to ensure
that it can be successfully managed alongside ioneer’s planned operations. Technical work
and studies undertaken to date show that co-existence of Rhyolite Ridge and Tiehm’s
buckwheat is achievable.
ioneer Managing Director Bernard Rowe said:
“We welcome and fully support the decisions by the US Fish and Wildlife Service,
and the work it and the BLM are undertaking to safeguard Tiehm’s buckwheat. ioneer
reiterates its commitment to preservation of this species. From the beginning, the
Rhyolite Ridge operation has been designed and planned to incorporate the
conservation and protection of Tiehm’s buckwheat. We have always firmly
understood the need to protect this species, irrespective of its listing status, given its
small population and limited geographic spread along the edges of the area we
“ioneer has invested considerable funds into undertaking the most comprehensive
studies and efforts into Tiehm’s buckwheat management strategies to date to ensure
the species is not only protected but that its populations are expanded in the years
“ioneer will ensure the necessary measures are in place to mitigate any potential
impacts of its operations and natural threats to the plant in its environment. Core to
our strategy is avoidance where possible and minimisation of any disturbance by our
operations. Our propagation, transplant and translocation programs will not only see
populations expanded, but reduce the risk to the plant from further climate-related
impacts and herbivory.
“Based upon the best available science, we are highly confident that with a
combination of avoidance, propagation and translocation, as has been successfully
demonstrated with other mat buckwheat species in the region, we can achieve the
successful coexistence of Tiehm’s buckwheat and our environmentally significant
project, which will supply critically needed lithium products in the US.”
This post reflects the official AXS press release found below, authorised by ioneer Managing Director Bernard Rowe:
Official Press Release