ELKO — The public will have 15 extra days to review Barrick Gold Corp.’s Bald Mountain Mine expansion project.
The Bureau of Land Management extended the public comment period for the draft environmental impact statement to Oct. 13.
“We received a lot of requests to extend the deadline because of the length of the document,” said Stephanie Trujillo, BLM project manager.
Miles Kreidler, BLM mining engineer, said the agency has given extensions before on other projects so the public has more time to look over the plans.
“Because of the alternative, you have to really read through the document,” Kreidler said. “There were substantial changes. It’s a lot of reading, rather than looking at maps.”
The mine’s draft environmental impact statement is online for review for the proposed Bald Mountain Mine North and South Operations Area Projects, an open-pit gold mine expansion that would be located in the Bald Mountain Mining District in White Pine County, approximately 65 miles northwest of Ely.
Several people looked over the plans for the expansion Tuesday during a public meeting in Elko.
Mitch Buzzetti of Lamoille said he wanted to know about the EIS because he is an outfitter.
“I was curious to see the corridors for the deer,” he said. “I think Barrick came around and did a great job on this one.”
Henry Krenka of Ruby Valley said he was “mostly concerned about the wildlife” in the area.
“Barrick seems to be cooperating and making plans for this wildlife,” Krenka said.
Curtis Cadwell, general manager at Bald Mountain, said most of the comments he was getting from the public were positive.
He explained several of the maps and said most of the areas will be reclaimed as mining progresses on the property.
The next public meeting is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today at the Eureka County Opera House, 31 S. Main St., Eureka.
The last public meeting is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday in the BLM Ely District Office, 702 N. Industrial Way, Ely.
The proposed project would be located on BLM-administered lands and include expansion of the Bald Mountain Mine North and South Operations Areas for an additional 6,903 acres of disturbance.
North Operations Area
Combining and expanding the existing Bald Mountain Mine North Operations Area Plan of Operations boundary and the existing Casino/Winrock Mine Plan boundary into a unified Plan boundary called the proposed NOA Project would increase the total surface disturbance from 9,381 acres to 13,727 acres and add four new heap leach pads.
South Operations Area
In the South Operations Area, the existing Alligator Ridge Mine and Yankee Mine plans would be expanded and combined into a unified plan called the proposed South Operations Area Project, which would increase the total surface disturbance from 939 acres to 3,496 acres. The South Operation Area Project Plan of Operations would also include an electrical transmission line and an access road between the North and South operations areas.
The DEIS describes four alternatives: the Proposed Action, the Reconfiguration Alternative, the Western Redbird Modification Alternative, and the No Action Alternative. The North and South Operations Area Facilities Reconfiguration Alternative was developed to address potential impacts to mule deer migration; greater sage-grouse leks and associated Preliminary Priority Habitat and Preliminary General Habitat; visual impacts affecting the cultural setting of the Pony Express National Historic Trail, Ruby Valley Pony Express Station, and Fort Ruby National Historic Landmark; and visual impacts affecting visitor aesthetics at the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The Western Redbird Modification Alternative was developed to further address potential impacts to mule deer migration.
Under the Reconfiguration Alternative, the proposed additional surface disturbance for the NOA and SOA projects would be approximately 5,175 acres and approximately 1,986 acres of authorized disturbance would be withdrawn, which represents a 3,703-acre (54 percent) decrease in comparison to the Proposed Action.
Under the Western Redbird Modification Alternative, the proposed additional surface disturbance for the NOA and SOA projects would be approximately 4,773 acres and approximately 2,220 acres of authorized disturbance would be withdrawn, which represents a 4,339-acre (63 percent) decrease in comparison to the Proposed Action.