ELKO - Round Mountain Gold Corp. can begin expanding the Round Mountain operations in Nye County now that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has issued a record of decision approving the project.
The Battle Mountain BLM's Tonopah Field Office approval also covers the company's plans to develop the nearby Gold Hill Project into a new surface mine.
The record of decision is "full force and effect," which means Round Mountain can proceed, although there is a 30-day appeal period, BLM Tonopah Field Manager Tom Seley said Wednesday.
Kinross Gold Corp. operates the Round Mountain Mine 55 miles south of Tonopah and is 50 percent owner. Barrick Gold of North America owns the other half of the mine, which currently employs roughly 750 people.
"The BLM EIS record of decision for the Round Mountain expansion has been four years in the making and is something to celebrate. We have hit the ground running with the expansion and look forward to many additional years of mine life," Round Mountain acting General Manager Randy Burggraff said Wednesday.
The Round Mountain expansion includes deepening and widening of the pit, increasing the mill and tailing pond capacity and expanding the rock waste dump and dedicated leach pads.
Plans call for Gold Hill to be developed about five miles north of the existing Round Mountain pit and a haul road constructed between the two locations.
"A lot of hard work has gone into the EIS. The BLM has been great to work with on this project," Burggraff said.
"The longevity of the Round Mountain Mine has been astounding. It has been in production continuously since 1977 and with this expansion will be in production for a long time to come," he said.
Seley said the company plans to begin expansion at Round Mountain first, including relocation of facilities to make room for a larger open pit. Gold Hill development will come later.
Current employees will mine at Gold Hill, according to earlier reports.
The BLM states the project will increase the existing Round Mountain Mine's boundary by 3,122 acres to a total of 10,385 acres and add an additional 4,928 acres to accommodate the new Gold Hill facilities.
Active mining is expected to last roughly 13 years. Ore processing will continue for several years after mining operations cease, followed by reclamation, site closure activities and post-closure monitoring, according to the BLM.
The record of decision also outlines mitigation measures Round Mountain must take to minimize potential environmental impacts.
They include a requirement that Round Mountain construct bat gates at 11 existing, historical mine shafts when Gold Hill is developed because there are shafts in the planned open pit area, Selely said.
"This is for loss of bat habitat and to protect the public from dangerous shafts," he said.
The record of decision estimates reclamation costs for the entire build-out of the planned Round Mountain expansion and Gold Hill would be $164 million, according to Seley.
He said Wednesday he talked about the project to Nye County Commissioners Tuesday, and "my understanding is that Round Mountain is the single largest taxpayer in Nye County."
The record of decision is available on the BLM website that can be reached by going to the Nevada BLM site at www.blm.gov/nv/st/en.html and clicking on Battle Mountain.
For questions or additional information about the project, please call Tom Seley at 775-482-7800, e-mail Thomas_Seley@blm.gov, or mail to P. O. Box 911, Tonopah, NV 89049.