Mount Hope molybdenum mine water quality control permit to be reconsidered

by Brian Bahouth

The entrance to the proposed Mount Hope molybdenum mine - image - Great Basin Resource Watch

According to the General Moly mining corporation website, Mount Hope, Nevada is “one of the largest and highest grade primary molybdenum deposits in the world.” General Moly already operates the Liberty molybdenum mine in central Nevada, and according to the company website, approval of the Mount Hope mine would enable them to become “the largest pure play primary molybdenum producer in the world.”

The Mount Hope project is in central Nevada about 23 miles northwest of Eureka, on U.S. Highway 278. The project plan includes an open pit, power transmission line, water well field, and associated mine-processing facilities. According to the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the mine is expected to operate for nearly 80 years to include time for reclamation. An open pit lake will remain when the mine has ceased operations.

According to state documents, the project will employ an average of roughly 400 people with a peak employment of 615 during construction. The project is on 8,092 acres of public land and 263 acres of private land.

In 2008, General Moly and the South Korea-based giant POSCO formed a joint venture to develop Mt Hope, Eureka Moly LLC. General Moly is a US corporation based in Denver with an office in Elko. POSCO is an international multi-product corporation based in South Korea. General Moly owns 80 percent of the Mount Hope project. POSCO owns the remaining 20 percent stake.

Following the formation of Eureka Moly, the company worked to gain approval to mine the Mount Hope site from the US Bureau of Land Management. After completing the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA, in 2012, the BLM issued a Record of Decision (ROD) that authorized the Mount Hope project.

A 3D rendering of Mount Hope, Nevada – source image – USGS Earth Explorer – 3D image – Nevada Capital News

Great Basin Resource Watch and others appealed the decision to the US District Court of Nevada. The District Court upheld the project approval, so the mining watchdog groups appealed the BLM’s finding to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 2017, the Ninth Circuit reversed the BLM’s findings based on a deficiency in an air quality analysis.

Since then, General Moly has worked with the BLM to complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement to address the concerns raised in the Ninth Circuit’s opinion. According to General Moly’s website, a new Record of Decision could be issued by the end of 2019.

Along with federal approval, the mine also needs a water quality control permit from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. When the initial ROD was issued in 2012, the state issued a permit showing that the project meets the state’s design criteria for containment of process fluids. The permit also approves the operational and closure plans for the Mt. Hope Mine to include ongoing monitoring requirements. Great Basin Resource Watch filed an appeal of the state’s decision to issue the water quality control permit, and on September 4, the Nevada State Environmental Commission will consider Great Basin Resource Watch’s arguments in opposition to the State of Nevada’s renewal of the water pollution control permit for the proposed Mt Hope molybdenum mine.

On this edition of The Wild Hare podcast, we speak with John Hadder, executive director of Great Basin Resource Watch about the upcoming hearing.

Song: Greenland
Artist: Emanicipator
Album: Safe in the Steep Cliffs
Label: Loci Records
Year: 2010
Duration: 1:25

Song: Augusta
Artist: Bathysphere
Album: Bathysphere’s Daylight Shrubbery EP
Label: Deep Water Recordings
Year: 2002
Duration: 1:56

Song: Augusta
Artist: Bathysphere
Album: Bathysphere’s Daylight Shrubbery EP
Label: Deep Water Recordingss
Year: 2002
Duration: 0:45

Song: No Hassle
Artist: Tosca
Album: No Hassle
Label: !K7
Year: 2009
Duration: 1:35

Song: Mrs Bongo
Artist: Tosca
Album: No Hassle
Label: !K7
Year: 2009
Duration: 1:26

Song: Knoll (Live)
Artist: Tosca
Album: No Hassle
Label: !K7
Year: 2009
Duration: 1:05

Song: Mrs Bongo
Artist: Tosca
Album: No Hassle
Label: !K7
Year: 2009
Duration: 1:24

Song: Augusta
Artist: Bathysphere
Album: Bathysphere’s Daylight Shrubbery EP
Label: Deep Water Recordingss
Year: 2002
Duration: 2:30

Song: No Hassle
Artist: Tosca
Album: No Hassle
Label: !K7
Year: 2009
Duration: 2:25