Court-ordered review of Battle Mountain mine completed

BATTLE MOUNTAIN -- Federal land managers say they have completed the additional environmental assessments a U.S. appeals court ordered a year ago in a legal dispute over a Nevada gold mine on a mountain some tribes consider sacred.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in December 2009 the Bureau of Land Management failed to adequately analyze the potential for Barrick Gold Corp.'s Cortez Hills project to pollute the air with mercury emissions and dry up scarce water resources in northeast Nevada's high desert.

In overturning a lower court ruling in Reno, the appellate court in San Francisco ordered the bureau to conduct a supplemental environmental impact statement. BLM officials said they completed the review of the document last week and it is subject to public comment for the next 30 days.

The project with a 2,000-foot-deep open pit is on Mount Tenabo in Lander County, about 250 miles east of Reno. Several tribes say their people have been worshipping there for centuries.

The Western Shoshone Defense Project, Great Basin Resource Watch and the Te-Moak and Timbisha tribes of Western Shoshone filed a lawsuit in 2008 to try to block the project.