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Appeals court denies Nevada mining project

CARSON CITY — A federal appeals court has vacated the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of a mining project in central Nevada, concluding the agency’s analysis of air quality impacts was insufficient.

The ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of appeals filed Wednesday in San Francisco is a setback for the Mount Hope Molybdenum Mine, located about 25 miles northwest of Eureka.

The mine is owned by Eureka Moly LLC, a subsidiary of General Moly Inc. The open pit operation and processing facilities would disturb about 8,300 acres within the 22,886-acre project area, most of it on public lands. The 80-year project life involves a two-year construction phase, 44 years of mining and ore processing, 30 years of reclamation and five years of post-closure monitoring.

BLM approved the mine in November 2012. Great Basin Resource Watch and Western Shoshone Defense Project filed suit challenging the approval, claiming BLM’s review of the project was deficient under the National Environmental Policy Act.

The appeals panel said the environmental review was lacking because it used a baseline of zero for several air pollutants when analyzing potential effects on air quality. Because of that, it said the BLM’s air quality findings both of the project itself and cumulatively with other mining and natural resource development in the region did not meet the standards required.

But the appeals court rejected other arguments raised by critics and determined the BLM’s review and findings regarding water issues and mitigation were adequate under the law.

In a statement Friday, Bruce Hansen, chief executive officer of General Moly, said the company was pleased the majority of the environmental impact statement completed by the BLM was supported by the court’s decision.

He added the company will work with the BLM “to resolve the technical deficiencies” regarding the air quality requirements cited by the court.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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