A federal appeals court has vacated the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) issuance of its record of decision (ROD) approving the plan of operations that authorized the construction and operation of the Mt. Hope molybdenum project in in central Nevada, concluding the agency’s analysis of air quality impacts was insufficient.
The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of appeals filed in San Francisco is a setback for the Mount Hope Molybdenum Mine, located about 25 miles northwest of Eureka, NV, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.
The mine is owned by Eureka Moly LLC, a subsidiary of General Moly Inc. The openpit operation and processing facilities would disturb about 8,300 acres within the 22,886-acre project area, most of it on public lands. The 80-year project life involves a two-year construction phase, 44 years of mining and ore processing, 30 years of reclamation and five years of post-closure monitoring.
BLM approved the mine in November 2012. Great Basin Resource Watch and Western Shoshone Defense Project filed suit challenging the approval, claiming BLM’s review of the project was deficient under the National Environmental Policy Act.
The appeals panel said the environmental review was lacking because it used a baseline of zero for several air pollutants when analyzing potential effects on air quality. Because of that, it said the BLM’s air quality findings both of the project itself and cumulatively with other mining and natural resource development in the region did not meet the standards required.
But the appeals court rejected other arguments raised by critics and determined the BLM’s review and findings regarding water issues and mitigation were adequate under the law.
In a statement, Bruce Hansen, chief executive officer of General Moly, said the company was pleased the majority of the environmental impact statement completed by the BLM was supported by the court’s decision.
"We are pleased that the majority of the Mt. Hope EIS completed by the BLM was supported by the 9th Circuit's decision, and we will work with the BLM to resolve the technical deficiencies concerning the baseline air quality requirements under NEPA. We are evaluating with our legal team and communicating with the BLM to fully understand the process and timing associated with addressing these issues raised by the 9th Circuit, and will move forward as expeditiously as possible to support the ROD. In addition to advancing the Mt. Hope project, we are continuing to progress efforts with our strategic partners at AMER International Group and others as we review other value accretive base metals and molybdenum related opportunities."