ELKO — After years in the planning and studying stages, Newmont Mining Corp. could be cleared to develop the Emigrant Project 10 miles south of Carlin early in the new year.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Elko office on Tuesday announced release of the final environmental impact statement for Emigrant, a proposed open pit gold mine in the vicinity of Newmont’s closed Rain Mine.
The review period for the final document ends on Jan. 18, according to Tom Schmidt, the team leader for the EIS process for the BLM.
“Then after that a decision can be made,” he said.
“We are very excited about the publication of the Notice of Availability for the final EIS for the Emigrant Project,” said Jerry Pfarr, Newmont’s director of permitting.
“The project will provide sustainable economic benefit, notably construction and operations-related jobs. We look forward to the final approvals for this project after some seven years of extensive review,” he said.
Plans call for a surface mine that would operate roughly 10 years, followed by four years of leaching activities. The operation would employ roughly 180 workers, coming mainly from Newmont’s existing workforce, Schmidt said.
The construction workforce is estimated at 100 workers, according to the final EIS.
The EIS document also states that plans call for mining 92 million tons of ore over the 14 years, along with 83 million tons of waste rock.
The final EIS is a long time coming. The BLM and Newmont started work on the first draft EIS back in 2004, and they went back to the drawing board after issuing the first draft EIS to come up with the second draft EIS in November 2008.
According to the BLM, the final EIS addresses concerns identified in the public review period for the draft study issued in November 2008 and looks at public concerns raised in earlier public outreach.
The BLM held the initial public scoping to gather comments in 2004 and in response to the original draft EIS in 2005. The next three years included additional testing and characterization of waste rock that would come from mining in answer to concerns the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency raised.
The EPA comments are in addressed in an adaptive management plan that is included in the final EIS, according to the Elko BLM.
“The main issue was with waste rock characterization, and we did a supplemental study of waste rock to get a good idea of future waste rock characteristics. We wanted to make certain there would not be acid mine drainage,” Schmidt said.
The plans calls for encapsulating any acid-generating rock in acid-neutralizing material, if monitoring shows more acid-generating material will come from mining than original expected, he explained.
Emigrant has been in the study stages longer than another planned Newmont project that the BLM also may approve in the coming year — the Genesis Project.
Schmidt said the final EIS on Genesis is under review at BLM headquarters in Washington.
Genesis is a much larger project that calls for mining again in areas Newmont mined in the past north of Carlin.
The proposed Emigrant project would disturb about 1,172 acres of public land and 260 acres of private land, the final EIS states.
Newmont plans to construct a disposal facility for waste rock, a leach pad for run-of-mine ore, a permanent stream diversion channel, surface facilities, including a process facility, and haul roads.
Newmont plans to use the existing shop at the Rain Mine site.
Production will begin with run-of-mine leaching, but the document states that if Newmont decides to add a crusher, the company will obtain permits from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.
No dewatering will be necessary because the pit won’t go below the groundwater table, according to the EIS.
The operations will lead to the loss of 306 animal unit months of grazing in the Emigrant Springs allotment until reclamation is completed, according to the document.
The BLM states that the final EIS includes mitigating measures designed to minimize environmental impacts and to assure the proposed action does not result in undue or unnecessary degradation of public lands.
For questions or more information about the project, contact Tom Schmidt at 753-0200, or e-mail email@example.com.