Nevada Copper Corp. ("Nevada Copper") provides the following update on the proposed Yerington land conveyance, the status of permits to develop and operate its Pumpkin Hollow copper project located in Nevada, and an update on feasibility study engineering work.
Status of Land Conveyance Legislation
On a bi-partisan collaborative basis, Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senator Dean Heller re-introduced the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act, Senate Bill S. 159, ("Lyon County bill") into the U.S. Senate ("Senate") on January 28, 2013. On February 14, 2013, the same bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 696, also on a bi-partisan basis, co-sponsored by Congressman Stephen Horsford and Congressman Mark Amodei.
This legislation conveys approximately 10,000 acres of BLM-administered lands to the City of Yerington ("the City") to facilitate development of the Pumpkin Hollow Mine and other economic development. The revised 2013 legislation also adds a wilderness provision covering an area approximately 20 miles from Pumpkin Hollow. The wilderness provision does not impact the project and, importantly, has the critical support of Lyon County. Recent discussions with the entire Nevada congressional delegation indicate that they are in full support of the Lyon County bill and timely passage.
Senator Reid stated, "I look forward to working with the Nevada congressional delegation to pass this important bill. I am very happy to be part of this legislation which will create lots of jobs in Lyon County, which are so desperately needed." See Senator Reid's full press release at:
Senator Heller added, "This legislation will allow Nevadans to utilize resources in our own backyard that can be used to create jobs and grow our local economy. Considering that mining is the backbone of Nevada's rural economy, measures such as these are critical to ensuring economic recovery in our state." See Senator Reid's full press release at: http://heller.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ID=494ef889-403f-4901-ae49-25e8258b0960
Congressman Horsford commented, "This jobs bill is the kind of commonsense bipartisan legislation that will get Nevadans back to work immediately. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass the Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act as soon as possible and help the people of Yerington grow their economy and create desperately needed jobs. Congressman Amodei and I will work together to pass this bill and bring work to thousands of Nevadans in Lyon County."
As reported in Energy & Environment Daily: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said one of their first orders of business this Congress will be to advance a bipartisan package of forest, parks and lands bills that drew little opposition in the previous Congress. Further the article noted that, Conservationists say bipartisan measures could include the Wovoka wilderness bill [re: Lyon County bill] in Nevada sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.). The bill would designate 48,000 acres of wilderness in exchange for conveying 12,500 acres [re: 10,400 acres] of land for a copper mine.
The City, Lyon County ("County") and Nevada Copper had have worked together for five years to develop this proposal, and to assure that when the proposal was submitted to the Nevada Congressional delegation in 2011, it would be a comprehensive proposal with local support. The previous version of the land bill was first introduced in the House as the Yerington Land Conveyance and Sustainable Development Act ("Yerington Bill") in February 2012 by Congressman Mark Amodei and passed in the House in June 2012. The exact same bill was introduced in the Senate in March 2012 by Senator Dean Heller, but was never acted upon by the Senate.
Though the legislation has been characterized by some as a land bill, it is more an economic bill compared to most other 'lands' bills awaiting action by Congress. There is no fiscal impact to the American taxpayer, since the Yerington lands will be acquired at fair market value. In addition, it stands to expedite approximately 500 construction jobs, 800 permanent jobs and generate $15 to $20 million annually in local taxes, and additional $5 to $10 million annual tax revenues for the State of Nevada. The transfer would also allow the City to participate in tax revenues they would otherwise not receive. Congressman Amodei has characterized the Lyon County bill as one the most significant economic bills before Congress at this time.
The land conveyance is a well-thought-out concept that includes the Pumpkin Hollow mine, as well as other planned general economic and recreational development of the Yerington lands by the City. The compromise wilderness area, called "Wovoka", 20 miles from Pumpkin Hollow, was negotiated amongst local stakeholders and added to the 2013 version of the land bill. That compromise protected existing users and addressed many critical land management priorities in the South Pine Grove Hills. Local leaders have stated that they hoped with the compromise that Congress can now expedite this important legislation in 2013.
Separately, a Sage Grouse Conservation Easement (not included in the bill, but secured by direct agreement with a private land owner as a companion conservation component) was secured by Nevada Copper as part of the comprehensive proposal. Notably, there are no sage grouse or suitable sage grouse habitat on, or near, the Pumpkin Hollow site.
Planning and permitting for both the larger Integrated Operations and Phase 1 Stand-Alone Underground Mine were submitted to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection ("NDEP") in July 2012. Additional information was requested by NDEP and is being developed in consultation with NDEP.
Dependent on the timing and outcome of the land legislation, Nevada Copper will be able to develop either scenario. If the land transfer is successful the company would expedite the development of the larger project. If the land transfer is delayed it would develop the smaller project entirely on private state land on a staged basis followed by the larger operation.
Studies performed to date show that the mine waste rock and tailings have very low acid generation and leaching potential. Additionally, Pumpkin Hollow will have tailings storage facility that is constructed with dewatered tailings, known as "dry stack." This method allows for a much smaller footprint for tailings storage, the ability to "reclaim as you go," and most importantly reduces project water consumption by 65%. When the open pits are exhausted, the exposed pit walls will have a significant proportion of non-acid generating and reactive rock that would not degrade waters of the State. Water quality in the pits after mining is completed is predicted to be neutral. Importantly, there are no wilderness areas in proximity of the project, no conflicts with other land uses, no sensitive animals or plants, no sage grouse, no nesting golden eagles, no surface waters and very low rangeland value.
Timothy M. Dyhr, Vice President, Environment and External Relations stated: "We have conducted extensive studies on groundwater, tailings design, mine rock geochemistry, post-mining pit lake quality and reclamation. This includes a reclamation cost estimate to provide a financial assurance for closure and reclamation of the project, which must be posted with the NDEP prior to construction. We expect to receive all required permits to operate and develop Pumpkin Hollow in Q2-2013."
Much more information on the project, land transfer and legislative progress can be found at http://www.pumpkinhollowcopper.com/mine-community/
Feasibility Study Update
Feasibility study work continues with a focus on optimizing the integrated feasibility study published in February 2012. As with the previous study, the new feasibility study will consist of an open pit and an underground mine development, a single processing facility, and will incorporate the recently expanded mineral resources in the Western Deposits. The updated resource estimate was previously reported in a News Release dated September 7, 2012.
Additional engineering design work has been undertaken to optimize the scheduling of ore and waste movements from the North and South open pits, which will now merge into a single double-bottom pit. This additional work is expected to reduce operating and sustaining capital costs. Moreover, the significant expansion of mineral resources in the North deposit allows for the deferral of South pit development capital further into the future. In view of the additional engineering design work required the feasibility study will now be published in Q2-2013.