South 32’s Hermosa project confirmed as first FAST-41 mining project
The South32's Hermosa manganese and zinc project in southern Arizona was confirmed as the first mining project to be added to the U.S. Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council’s (FPISC) FAST-41 process, legislation aimed at promoting faster development of clean energy assets and other infrastructure projects.
To qualify for the FAST-41 process complex critical infrastructure projects must meet rigorous criteria to demonstrate benefit to the nation.
The Hermosa project is currently the only advanced mine development project in the U.S. that could produce zinc and manganese, two minerals on the federal critical minerals list.
“Adding projects like Hermosa to FAST-41 supports the United States' decarbonization goals by creating a more efficient and transparent federal permitting process for projects that have potential to supply the critical minerals needed for a low-carbon future,” South 32 wrote in a release.
“The current phase of study work for Hermosa's Clark deposit has confirmed its potential to supply battery-grade manganese to the rapidly forming North American electric vehicle supply chain.”
The Hermosa project include two deposits, including the Clark deposit which is currently the only advanced project in the U.S. that has a viable pathway to produce battery-grade manganese for the domestic market from locally sourced ore.
There has been no manganese mining in the United States since the 1970s and the U.S. is now 100 percent reliant on foreign sources for manganese.
"The inclusion of Hermosa as the first mining project added to the FAST-41 process is an important milestone that recognizes the project's potential to strengthen the domestic supply of critical minerals in the U.S.,” said South32 Chief Executive Officer Graham Kerr. "The project presents a significant opportunity to sustainably produce commodities critical to a low carbon future."
South32 Hermosa President Pat Risner said, "South32 hopes to set a new standard for sustainable mining at Hermosa, strengthening the domestic supply chain of critical minerals, growing the local economy, and improving lives in a community that needs more jobs and investment.
"Becoming a covered FAST-41 project will make the rigorous federal environmental review and permitting process for this project more transparent, predictable, and inclusive for all stakeholders. We are committed to working closely with the US Forest Service, cooperating agencies, Native American tribes, and local stakeholders in Santa Cruz County in Arizona to develop this project in a way that benefits the community, minimizes impact on the environment, and creates opportunities across the region."
U.S. Sen. for Arizona Kyrsten Sinema said "Thanks to updates to FAST-41 - an important tool helping our nation reduce emissions and advance our clean energy future - made by our bipartisan infrastructure law, the Hermosa project will fuel a healthy Arizona economy, boost our national security, and strengthen our state's leadership in the responsible production of critical minerals and renewable energy."
Federal Permitting Council Executive Director Christine Harada said "The Permitting Council is pleased to announce the first mining project to obtain FAST-41 coverage.
"The South32 Hermosa project will now benefit from the coordination, collaboration, and transparency of the unique FAST-41 process that delivers quality environmental reviews with enhanced accountability and efficiency."
Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) or FAST-41 was signed into law by President Obama in December 2015 to create a more efficient and transparent process for complex, critical infrastructure projects.
The FAST Act also created the FPISC, an independent federal agency composed of 16 members including 13 federal agencies responsible for environmental reviews and permitting for infrastructure projects. The Permitting Council facilitates deliberate, coordinated, and transparent federal environmental review and permitting for certain "covered" infrastructure projects.
To qualify for review under Title 41 of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act - or the FAST-41 program - infrastructure projects must meet certain, rigorous criteria to demonstrate how they will benefit the nation.
The federal government will now create a comprehensive, integrated permitting timetable for the Hermosa project that is publicly available on the Permitting Dashboard and contains all federal environmental reviews and authorizations needed to fully develop the project.