ELKO - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Monday it has published a formal notice that the Battle Mountain office is preparing a court-ordered supplemental environmental impact statement on Barrick Gold of North America's Cortez Hills operations.
The notice of intent appeared in the Federal Register Friday to officially let people know the study is under way.
U.S. District Court Judge Larry Hicks ordered the BLM to do additional analysis of three areas of the Cortez Hills Project at the direction of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and he allowed mining to continue while the BLM does the analysis.
"It's part of the process, and we hope the process is completed by the end of the year," Barrick Gold of North America's director of communications and community relations, Lou Schack, said Monday.
"We are glad to see the process moving along," he said.
Meanwhile, Cortez Hills operations are "going very well," Schack said.
The Cortez Hills Mine in Lander County is in full gold production after Barrick completed construction while opponents of the project sought an injunction to stop the work. The 9th Circuit Court sent the matter back to Hicks, calling for further study of dewatering, air quality and particulate emissions.
The BLM and Cortez asked the U.S. District Court for a compromise that would allow Cortez Hills to continue in production while the BLM completed the study that is a supplement to the final EIS on Cortez Hills. The court agreed instead of ordering a full injunction that would have stopped the project.
Barrick agreed not to increase mine dewatering at Cortez Hills and to stockpile carbonaceous ore that ordinarily would go to Goldstrike for processing in the roaster there while the study is under way.
The Te-Moak and Timbisha Western Shoshone tribes, the Western Shoshone Defense Project and Great Basin Resource Watch appealed the BLM's approval of the Cortez Hills Project in late 2008 and sought an emergency injunction against the project.
The appeal was based on BLM's approval of the project following publication of a final EIS.
The U.S. District Court in Reno rejected their request of an immediate stay, and the appeal went to the 9th Circuit.
The BLM stated in an announcement Monday the BLM will provide opportunities for public participation when the draft EIS is published, but background information on Cortez Hills is available at the BLM office in Battle Mountain or on the website www.blm.gov/nv/battlemountain.
For more information call Christopher Worthington, (775) 635-4000, or e-mail: Christopher_Worthington@blm.gov.