Nevada Gold Mines LLC’s Deep South project at the Cortez Mine south of Crescent Valley has received approval from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, clearing the way for expansion of surface and underground gold mining operations.
The BLM Battle Mountain district’s Mount Lewis Field Office issued a record of decision that will extend mine life for 12 years and processing for another three years. Cortez currently employs roughly 1,250 people from Elko, Battle Mountain, Winnemucca, Eureka, Carlin and surrounding areas, according to the BLM.
“Nevada Gold Mines is pleased to receive the signed record of decision for our Deep South expansion project. This project is a key growth initiative for NGM, which will extend the life of Cortez, leading to longer-term employment opportunities and support for our local communities and state economy,” Nevada Gold Mines Executive Managing Director Greg Walker said.
He said the company appreciates the work of the U.S. Department of Interior, which is over the BLM, in expediting the Deep south environmental impact statement.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt referred to the Deep South project when he visited Cortez on July 23. He said President Trump is “very committed to the appropriate development of resources, and we’re out here doing a site inspection with a mine that we recently completed an environmental impact statement on.”
In August, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak also visited Cortez Mine, which is in Lander and Eureka counties.
Nevada Gold Mines is a joint venture of Barrick and Newmont Goldcorp Corp., with Barrick as 61.5 percent owner and operator and Newmont as 38.5 percent owner. The joint venture established July 1 covers all the operating mines the two companies owned in Nevada, including Cortez.
“This project, among others, is an exciting opportunity for Nevada Gold Mines to demonstrate our commitment to our employees, our partners and our communities, Walker said in the Sept. 11 statement on the BLM record of decision.
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Cortez’s Deep South plan is to expand existing open pits at the four complexes on site — Pipeline, Gold Acres, Cortez and Cortez Hills — expand the underground mine at Cortez, continue dewatering for mining at lower elevations, reconfigure already authorized backfilling at the Pipeline Complex, partial backfilling of open pits at the Cortez and Cortez Hills complexes and modification or expansion of five existing waste rock facilities.
The project also will include construction of a new water treatment plant, additional water management facilities, construction of additional ancillary support facilities, development of ore stockpiles at the Gold Acres and Cortez complexes and increasing off-site transport of refractory ore to the Goldstrike Mill north of Carlin, according to the record of decision.
The decision additionally includes hauling of oxide ore from the Arturo Mine north of Carlin to the Pipeline Complex for processing.
The project will increase the existing plan boundary by 4,279 acres to 62,372 acres, and there will be 3,800 more acres of surface disturbance on the site, which is 73 percent on BLM-administered land, according to the agency.
BLM and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection determined that the financial guarantee from Nevada Gold Mines should be a little more than $260 million to meet reclamation requirements for Cortez.
The BLM stated that public comments were incorporated into the final EIS released in July. There also were numerous Native American consultations.
The BLM selected the preferred alternative, which is the proposed action.
The record of decision and relevant documents are available online at https://go.usa.gov/xE8q6. The contact for questions and concerns on the ROD is Jon Sherve, field manager of the Mount Lewis Field Office, 775-635-4056.