The Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), an independent federal agency, published a proposed comprehensive, integrated permitting timetable for South32’s Hermosa project. This update comes 60 days after Hermosa was announced as the first mining project to be covered by FAST-41 in May 2023.

Hermosa is located on private lands and requires only a handful of state permits from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for initial development. The company, however, does anticipate it will need federal environmental reviews, including a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process, for full project development.

The permitting timetable from FPISC includes intermediate and final completion dates for all federal environmental reviews and authorizations for full project development, as well as a list of cooperating agencies. It projects Hermosa will happen in three phases: Hermosa’s Mine Plan of Operations will be submitted and approved by December 2023; Hermosa’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process – from notice of intent (NOI), public comment periods, and final EIS publishing – will occur over the course of 2024 and 2025, and federal authorization for full development will occur in 2026.

“The process to authorize full development reflects that stakeholders will be coordinated at the outset of project development,” Hermosa President Pat Risner said. “We welcome FAST-41 building on the NEPA process of providing stakeholders with increased transparency, real-time information that is publicly available on the Permitting Dashboard, and multiple opportunities over the next few years to give feedback. Since our inception, the Hermosa project has actively sought out, and has already incorporated, community feedback on the project’s planning and design.”

Located in Southern Arizona, the Hermosa project is currently the only advanced mine development project in the U.S. that could produce two USGS-designated critical minerals – manganese and zinc. It is also the only advanced project in the U.S. that has a viable pathway to produce battery-grade manganese to help the rapidly growing North American electric vehicle supply chain.