Barrick Gold Corp. said a mid-April U.S. District Court decision allows mining to continue at its Cortez Hills mine in Nevada, USA, while the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) completes a study of three aspects of the project identified in a 2009 ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Barrick began construction of the project in late 2008 following BLM approval of the company’s plan of operations. Soon after, a coalition of three environmental activist groups and two Western Shoshone Tribes asked the District Court to stop the project. Barrick and the BLM, co-defendants in the case, requested an injunction that would allow mining to continue while a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) was prepared. The plaintiffs had demanded a full injunction, stopping construction and mining at Cortez Hills. Work on the SEIS can now proceed.
Barrick said it will not ship a portion of Cortez Hills ores off site for processing while the SEIS is prepared and made available for public comment. Mine dewatering (groundwater pumping) will also be limited to rates and volumes allowed under permits granted prior to the 2008 approval of the project. The third aspect of the SEIS concerns new air quality standards imposed while the Cortez Hills case was in litigation. The BLM will apply the new standard, PM 2.5, to the supplemental study. Barrick expects completion of the SEIS, including required public comment periods and final approval, to occur by the end of the year.
The Cortez Hills mine and the Pipeline mine comprise Barrick’s Cortez Operations, located in Lander County, Nevada, which will produce an estimated 1.08-1.12 million oz of gold in 2010.