Battle against Nevada molybdenum mine goes to appeals court

Mount Hope (Photo: Great Basin Resource Watch).

A San Francisco court of appeal is expected to hear today from Eureka Moly (subsidiary of General Moly), the Bureau of Land Management, and two NGOs that oppose the proposed Mt. Hope mine near the southern town of Eureka, Nevada.

Attorneys for the Great Basin Resource Watch and the Western Shoshone Defense Project will ask the three-judge panel to overturn a Reno federal district court’s ruling that upheld the permits for the molybdenum mine in 2014.

The activists say the project will have a devastating effect on local water supplies, since it’s expected to pump 7,000 gallons per minute from the local aquifer for 41 years. They say water shortages are already happening in the area.

And they are not just fighting the proponent, but also the BLM for providing the initial permits for the site in 2012. Their lawyers are basing the case on the interpretation of a 1926 executive order called Public Water Reserve 107. The document states that, “all land within one quarter of a mile of every spring or water be reserved for public use.”

If the appeal is successful, it could set a precedent and impact mining activities near springs on public land.

Mt. Hope is a joint venture between Colorado-based General Moly (80% ownership) and South Korean POSCO (20% ownership). The open-pit project is expected to produce 1.2 billion saleable pounds of molybdenum as technical grade molybdenum oxide for four decades.

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