It’s been a long time coming, but the Mount Hope molybdenum mine planned for northwest of Eureka, Nevada, may get the final go-aheads in the middle of 2019. Then it will be possible for the project to proceed with financing and construction, General Moly Vice President Pat Rogers said this week.
“It has been a very long process,” Rogers said, “but it’s a really exciting deposit. It truly is one of the world’s largest and highest grade undeveloped primary molybdenum deposits. This will be a huge economic benefit to the area and it will be great news in terms of diversity for the mining industry.”
The Bureau of Land Management has released a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Mount Hope Mine Project. The public comment period ends April 22.
The BLM signed a record of decision, approved a mine plan of operations and issued right-of-way grants for the Mount Hope project on Nov. 16, 2012. On Dec. 28, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision asking for further action on three issues related to the proposed mine. That led to the new SEIS which is now available.
Rogers said that since the Supplemental EIS addresses only a few narrow issues, he expects that the public comment probably will not be very extensive and the BLM may be able to issue a final EIS in the middle of 2019. The project is also waiting on a decision from the Nevada state engineer to authorize some changes to water rights which General Moly has owned for over 10 years.
Once these approvals are in place, Rogers said, “Then we’re fully authorized to build and operate the project, and we’ll pursue working on a financing package to fund construction of the project.”
The mine will be designed to have a total of about 8,600 acres of disturbance within the 23,065-acre project area.
“As big as the mine is, it’s designed to be in a fairly efficient and compact space, but it is a mine that would be on the scale of the large gold mines in Nevada,” Rogers said.
The mine is expected to employ more than 700 people during the construction phase. Rogers said that when Mount Hope is up and running, about 400 employees will work on the operation of the mine.
“These will be high-paying jobs,” Rogers said. “The mine industry provides great benefits, and we plan to be competitive with other Nevada mines.”
The Mount Hope Mine “will be a great employer, a great source of tax revenue, and it will be a long-lived economic boon to the local economy,” he said.
Based on what is known about deposits today, Rogers said the mine life is expected to be 30 years, as they process the high grade material and stockpile the lower-grade material. Then there should be about another 10 years of processing the stockpiled material, so that there will be a total of 40 years of production. They expect to produce about 40 million pounds of molybdenum per year for the first five years of production.
The price of molybdenum dropped to around $5 to $7 per pound through most of 2015 through 2017, but it jumped in early 2018, and has been around $12 per pound for the past year.
“It’s one of those metals that’s holding up pretty well,” Rogers said, “based on increasing world stainless steel output and also greater capital investment in the global oil and gas sector.”
Molybdenum “really is a unique metal that is essential to the stainless steel industry,” he said.
About 70 percent of the molybdenum produced is used in stainless steel, and a lot is used in specialty and high-allow steels. Molybdenum provides steel with resistance to corrosion and temperature changes. Places where molybdenum-enhanced steel is found include oil and gas pipelines, wind turbines, solar panels, bridges, tunnels, railroad lines, buildings and more.
Adjacent to the planned Mount Hope molybdenum mine, in an area where there has been occasional mining since the 1870s – primarily for silver and zinc – General Moly drilled nine exploratory holes this past year.
“We got some exciting results that we’re encouraged by, and we’re assessing what our next steps will be for evaluating the mineralization there,” Rogers said.
The Mount Hope molybdenum mine Draft SEIS and related documents are available at https://go.usa.gov/xUhRK. Public comments will be accepted through April 22. They can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, mailed to Kevin Hurrell, Attn: Mt Hope Draft SEIS – Project Manager, 50 Bastian Road, Battle Mountain, Nevada 89820, or faxed to 775-635-4034.