The South32 Hermosa project has been confirmed by the U.S. Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), an independent federal agency, as the first mining project added to the FAST-41 process. To qualify for the FAST-41 process complex critical infrastructure projects must meet rigorous criteria to demonstrate benefit to the nation.

Adding projects like Hermosa to FAST-41 supports American decarbonization goals by creating a more efficient and transparent federal permitting process for projects that have potential to supply the critical minerals needed for a low-carbon future.

“South32 hopes to set a new standard for sustainable mining at Hermosa, strengthening the domestic supply chain of critical minerals, growing the local economy, and improving lives in a community that needs more jobs and investment.,” South32 Hermosa President Pat Risner said. “Becoming a covered FAST-41 project will make the rigorous federal environmental review and permitting process for this project more transparent, predictable, and inclusive for all stakeholders. We are committed to working closely with the US Forest Service, cooperating agencies, Native American tribes, and local stakeholders in Santa Cruz County in Arizona to develop this project in a way that benefits the community, minimizes impact on the environment, and creates opportunities across the region.”

The Hermosa project, located in Southern Arizona, is currently the only advanced mine development project in the U.S. that could produce two federally designated critical minerals —manganese and zinc— which are essential minerals for powering the world’s clean energy future.

The current phase of study work for Hermosa’s Clark deposit has confirmed its potential to supply battery-grade manganese to the rapidly forming North American electric vehicle supply chain. The Clark deposit is the only advanced project in the U.S. that has a viable pathway to produce battery-grade manganese for the domestic market from locally sourced ore.

There has been no manganese mining in the United States since the 1970s and the U.S. is now completely reliant on foreign sources for manganese.