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Mining
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Komatsu project boosts city's building permit valuations

ELKO – With the start of construction of the new Komatsu Equipment Co. facility at the western end of the city, building permit valuations for the month of February took a giant leap to nearly $20.72 million.

February valuations in 2018 totaled $1.77 million.

Komatsu broke ground in late October 2018 for the 189,000-square-foot service center on P&H Drive just off Interstate 80 that will be the company’s largest facility in North America. Komatsu Mining Corp. and Komatsu Equipment will be together in Elko at the new 30-acre site. Komatsu estimated the project would cost $47 million.

“There is other activity in town, but that’s the anomaly,” Elko City Manager Curtis Calder said of the Komatsu project.

Calder said the Elko Planning Commission and Elko City Council worked to make the Komatsu facility possible, “to give them one neat parcel.” Efforts included parcel mapping, dedication of a new right-of-way, a vacation of a portion of another right-of-way, redrawing boundary lines and annexation of certain parcels.

Komatsu was anxious to get the construction work started so the building and site-work permits were issued for different parcel areas in advance of the city completing work to consolidate them, Calder said on March 12.

“The areas are all adjacent to one another,” he said.

Calder said there is already a lot of dirt moved at the Komatsu site and work is under way on a retaining wall.

“They are really cooking as fast as they can,” he said. “There is only so much they can do with winter weather.”

General contractor for the Komatsu project is Hughes General Contractors Inc., and the permits were issued to P&H Mining Harnischfeger Corp., parent of Komatsu, which merged with Joy Global in 2017.

Komatsu reported earlier there will be 150 employees at the new center, which is scheduled for completion early next year, featuring service bays, shops and a yard for construction equipment and machine rentals.

Calder said the city expects the Komatsu regional service project to “drive a lot of activity in that area” so design work recently began for a new sewer lift station at exit 298. Komatsu will be on septic service, however, until the new sewer infrastructure is in place.

“Komatsu is not enough. It’s based on the volume, and a lift station needs enough flow to work,” he said.

The city anticipates spending $5 million to $10 million for the sewer project, when there is enough development to warrant the lift station.

Building permits

According to the building department, the total of new commercial permit valuations was a little more than $16.6 million for February, with the bulk for Komatsu’s project, along with $2.8 million in permit valuation for site improvements for the Komatsu project.

Permit applications totaled 35 in February and 59 year-to-date.

Building permit fees in February totaled $205,466. Year-to-date the total was $276,061, a big jump compared with $107,353 last year.

The building department also reported there are three single-family dwellings permitted for January and February combined, down from six in the same period last year. There is one manufactured home foundation permitted this year, compared with zero last year. There were no permits in January and February for multi-family dwellings, nor for duplexes. That was the same last year.

There were 59 new homes built in 2018, up from 43 in 2017, a building department chart shows.


Govt-and-politics
National monuments back in the spotlight

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — As Democrats in Congress prepare to scrutinize President Donald Trump’s review of 27 national monuments, most of the recommendations made by ex-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke remain unfinished, seemingly stuck on the backburner as other matters consume the White House.

Trump acted quickly in December 2017 on Zinke’s recommendations to shrink two sprawling Utah monuments that had been criticized as federal government overreach by the state’s Republican leaders since their creation by Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

But in the 15 months since Trump downsized the Utah monuments, the president has done nothing with Zinke’s proposal to shrink two more monuments, in Oregon and Nevada, and change rules at six others, including allowing commercial fishing inside three marine monuments in waters off New England, Hawaii and American Samoa.

Zinke is now gone — after resigning in December amid multiple ethics investigations — and has joined a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm. Trump has nominated as his replacement Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industry and other corporate interests.

A sweeping public lands bill signed into law on Tuesday by Trump creates five new monuments — two of which Zinke suggested — but none of the reductions or other changes he recommended.

The monument review was based on arguments from Trump and others that a law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt allowing presidents to declare monuments had been improperly used to protect wide expanses of lands instead of places with particular historical or archaeological value.

On Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee was hosting a hearing that the Democratic majority said would focus on the “inadequate” nature of the administration’s review. Democrats claim the move to shrink the monuments was illegal and overlooked overwhelming support for keeping them intact.

Speakers included tribal leaders, a leading paleontologist and a conservationist who say their arguments for protecting the land were ignored during the review.

People and groups who advocated for the changes are disappointed with the inaction and in the dark about White House plans. Some critics of the monument review, meanwhile, say the delay shows Trump’s intent all along was to launch the sweeping review as justification to shrink the Utah monuments to appease powerful politicians such as former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, who in return gave the president support for his causes.

Environmental, tribal and paleontology groups called the review an attack on protected land that put at risk habitat rich with ancient artifacts, wildlife and dinosaur fossils and sued the challenge the shrinkages at the Utah monuments.

On the other side are commercial fishing operators who say jobs will be lost unless Trump reverses Obama’s 2016 creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument off the New England coastline, where boats previously targeted squid, swordfish, tuna and other fish.

Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, recalled meeting with Zinke in 2017 to air the industry’s concerns.

“We left that room, I want to say, hopeful. And we still have some hope, but it would be great to actually have some results,” she said.

Brady said hopes Trump would sympathize with the industry’s economic struggles “seem to be forgotten so far to date.”

Interior Department spokesman Alex Hinson said the White House has not requested information about the monument recommendations since Zinke submitted his proposals in August 2017.

A White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss deliberations said the Trump administration was still considering taking action, but declined to elaborate.

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva said he believes the Utah monuments were targeted immediately for shrinking in order to open up the lands for the extraction of coal and uranium. The Arizona Democrat said in an interview that his efforts to confirm those suspicions had been frustrated when his party was in the minority, by the administration’s refusal to turn over documents related to Zinke’s recommendations.

Zinke and Trump advocated for a return to American energy dominance but through mid-February, lands stripped from the Utah monuments haven’t been mined, according to state and federal officials who approve permits.

Heidi McIntosh, managing attorney for the Earthjustice conservation organization, said she wonders if Trump has pushed the other recommendations deep into the backburner because he doesn’t have much to gain politically in states besides Utah by enacting them.

She said the lack of an outcome for so many monuments “raises questions if this was really about abuses they saw in monument designations or whether it was really more of a political deal that he had made with the Utah senators?”


Mining
top story
Newmont shareholder vote on Goldcorp merger set April 11

DENVER — Newmont Mining Corp. has announced a special shareholder meeting in connection with the company’s previously announced combination with Goldcorp Inc.

Newmont notified shareholders that the special meeting will take place on April 11.

Shareholders will be asked to vote on, among other proposals, the issuance of Newmont common shares in connection with the proposed transaction with Goldcorp. Newmont’s board of directors unanimously recommended that shareholders vote in favor of the proposals.

“Combining with Goldcorp represents a compelling value creation opportunity for Newmont’s shareholders providing them with an unmatched portfolio of world class operations, projects, exploration opportunities, reserves and talent,” said Gary Goldberg, chief executive officer. “Through the application of our proven Full Potential continuous improvement program, we anticipate generating $365 million in pre-tax synergies to potentially deliver $4.4 billion in Net Present Value. With nearly 90 percent of Newmont Goldcorp’s operations, projects and reserves located in favorable mining jurisdictions on four continents, we will be able to offer shareholders sustainable returns over a longer time horizon, at lower risk.”

After the transaction closes, Newmont Goldcorp will be accretive to Newmont’s Net Asset Value per share by 27 percent, and 34 percent accretive to the company’s 2020 cash flow per share; and will begin delivering a combined $365 million in expected annual pre-tax synergies, supply chain efficiencies and full potential improvements representing the opportunity to create $4.4 billion in net present value (pre-tax).


State
Sisolak announces Nevada is joining US climate alliance

CARSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Steve Sisolak says Nevada will join an alliance of state governors pledging to abide by the goals in the Paris climate accord.

The Democratic governor announced Tuesday that the state would take “bold steps to ensure a better, healthier future” and become “part of the solution.”

He’s joining 22 other governors who’ve signed on to a U.S. Climate Alliance to uphold the accord’s goals despite President Donald Trump’s order to pull the U.S. from the agreement.

Sisolak’s office said Nevada will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by at least 26 percent in the next six years.

The state will also commit to track and report its progress and work to reduce carbon pollution and promote clean energy.


Sisolak


Govt-and-politics
top story
BLM begins offering $1,000 incentive to adopt a horse

In an attempt to reduce the wild horse population on public lands, the Bureau of Land Management is offering $1,000 incentives to those who adopt the animals.

The proposal was announced last April but the federal agency did not begin the program until Tuesday.

“We understand that adopting a wild horse or burro represents a commitment. The incentive is designed to help with the adopter’s initial training and humane care,” said BLM Deputy Director of Programs and Policy Brian Steed. “I encourage anyone who has considered adopting a wild horse or burro to join the thousands of owners who have provided good homes to more than 245,000 wild horses or burros since 1971.”

Through the new incentive program, qualified adopters are eligible to receive $500 within 60 days of the adoption date and an additional $500 within 60 days of titling for each animal, which normally occurs one year from the adoption date. The incentive is available for all animals that are eligible for adoption, including animals at BLM facilities, off-site events or on the agency’s Online Corral website.

Adopters will pay a minimum $25 adoption fee per animal.

The program is part of the BLM’s efforts to confront a growing over-population of wild horses and burros on rangelands and in off-range holding facilities, which costs nearly $50 million a year.

As of March 1, the wild horse and burro population on public lands was estimated at about 81,950 animals, which BLM says is more than triple the size the land can support along with other legally mandated uses.

Potential adopters are required to complete an application proving they can feed and provide humane care to the animals and that they will adhere to the prohibited acts and titling requirements.

In addition, potential adopters must authorize the incentive to be deposited via electronic funds transfers to their preferred account at their financial institution. Potential adopters should visit the BLM website or call 866-468-7826 to learn more about the guidelines and requirements for adopting a wild horse or burro.