South32 receives proposed permitting timetable for Hermosa Project

July 10, 2023

The Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), an independent federal agency, published the proposed comprehensive, integrated permitting timetable for South32’s Hermosa project. The South32 project is a proposed underground mining project that would produce manganese and zinc, two critical minerals.

In May, the project became the first mine to covered by FAST-41 an Obama era Act also known as Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act or (FAST Act), which looks to create a more transparent and timely process for critical infrastructure projects.

The proposed timeline comes 60-days after Hermosa was announced as the first mining project to be covered by FAST-41 in May 2023.

As Hermosa is located on private lands, only a handful of state permits from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality are required for initial development. However, the project does anticipate the need of federal environmental reviews and a NEPA process for full development of the project, South 32 said in a statement.

“Today’s permitting timetable from FPISC includes intermediate and final completion dates for all federal environmental reviews and authorizations for full project development, as well as a list of cooperating agencies,” the statement said. “The proposed permitting timetable projects Hermosa will happen in three phases: Hermosa’s Mine Plan of Operations will be submitted and approved by December 2023; Hermosa’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process - from notice of intent (NOI), public comment periods, and final EIS publishing - will occur over the course of 2024 and 2025, and federal authorization for full development will occur in 2026.”

The Hermosa project, located in Southern Arizona, is currently the only advanced mine development project in the U.S. that could produce two USGS-designated critical minerals – manganese and zinc – which are essential minerals for powering the world’s clean energy future. Hermosa is the only advanced project in the U.S. that has a viable pathway to produce battery-grade manganese to help the rapidly growing North American electric vehicle supply chain.

“The process to authorize full development reflects that stakeholders will be coordinated at the outset of project development. We welcome FAST-41 building on the NEPA process of providing stakeholders with increased transparency, real-time information that is publicly available on the Permitting Dashboard, and multiple opportunities over the next few years to give feedback,” South32 Hermosa President Pat Risner said. “Since our inception, the Hermosa project has actively sought out, and has already incorporated, community feedback on the project’s planning and design.”

The project is being designed as the first netzero mining operation as well as the first dry stack tailings facility in the United States. Part of that is a multilayered liner system that is low-moisture, that feeds excess water into a water treatment plant.

“We are committed to working closely with the U.S. Forest Service, cooperating agencies, tribes and local stakeholders to develop this project in a way that benefits the community, minimizes impact on the environment and grows the economy,” Risner said.


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