Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Hycroft Mine Phase II Expansion Project, Humboldt and Pershing Counties, Nevada

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 173 (Friday, September 6, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 173 (Friday, September 6, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 46965-46967]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-19389]
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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Bureau of Land Management
Fish and Wildlife Service
[51100000.GN0000.LVEMF1503760.LLNVW03000.15x MO# 4500136770]
Notice of Availability of the Final Environmental Impact
Statement for the Proposed Hycroft Mine Phase II Expansion Project,
Humboldt and Pershing Counties, Nevada
AGENCY: Bureau of Land Management, and Fish and Wildlife Service,
Interior.
ACTION: Notice of availability.
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SUMMARY: In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of
1969, as amended (NEPA), and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act
of 1976, as amended, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Black Rock
Field Office, Winnemucca, Nevada, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS) have prepared a joint Final Environmental Impact
Statement (EIS) and by this notice are announcing the beginning of the
availability of the Final EIS. The BLM is the lead agency in
development of the Final EIS and has evaluated Hycroft Resource and
Development, Inc.'s (HRDI's) request for the proposed expansion of
their operations at the existing Hycroft Mine. The USFWS is a
coordinating agency with the BLM on the development of this EIS and has
evaluated the applicant's Eagle Conservation Plan (ECP), which
describes HRDI's request to remove inactive (i.e., outside the nesting
season) eagle nests and for a 30-year incidental take permit for golden
eagles under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act).
DATES: This notice initiates the availability of the Final EIS. No ROD
will issue for 30 days past the publication of this NOA.
ADDRESSES: To access the Final EIS and if more information is required
please reach out the appropriate contact below
[[Page 46966]]
Project Mining Expansion:
     Website: https://go.usa.gov/xyu54
     Email: [email protected]
     Fax: (775) 623-1503
     Mail: 5100 East Winnemucca Boulevard, Winnemucca, NV 89445
Eagle Take Permit:
     Email: [email protected]
     Fax: (916) 414-6486
     Mail: 2800 Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions about the proposed mine
expansion, contact Taylor Grysen--BLM Project Manager, telephone: (775)
623-1500, address: 5100 East Winnemucca Boulevard, Winnemucca, NV
89445. For questions about the eagle take permit contact: Heather
Beeler--USFWS Project Manager, telephone: (916) 414-6651, address: 2800
Cottage Way, W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825. Persons who use a
telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay
Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the above individual during
normal business hours. The FRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You
will receive a reply during normal business hours.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: HRDI has proposed an expansion to their
operations at the existing Hycroft Mine, which is located approximately
55 miles west of Winnemucca, Nevada, in Humboldt and Pershing Counties.
The Hycroft Mine Phase II Expansion proposed action proposes to
increase the authorized Plan of Operations boundary to 27,835 acres, of
which 26,082 acres would be on BLM-administered public lands. Under the
project as proposed by HRDI, the surface disturbance would increase by
8,737 acres, from 6,144 acres to 14,881 acres, which includes 13,141
acres located on land administered by the BLM Black Rock Field Office.
Surface disturbance on private land would decrease by 44 acres, from
1,784 acres to 1,740 acres. The proposed project would include the
following activities: Expanding the authorized Plan of Operations
boundary to the east; extending mining and ore processing activities to
2039; increasing the rate of process water pumping and extending until
2041; constructing and operating the Northeast Tailings Storage
Facility (TSF) and associated pipeline corridor and haul road;
constructing and operating the North Heap Leach Facility (HLF) East
expansion and associated solution ponds; expanding the existing
Brimstone Pit below the pre-mining groundwater table; conducting active
dewatering of the Brimstone Pit through the installation and operation
of dewatering wells; conducting passive dewatering within the expanded
pit footprint; expanding the South Waste Rock Facility (WRF); modifying
the approved land use in the South Processing Complex to allow for the
option of constructing the Southwest WRF in place of the complex, if
desired; modifying waste backfill plans with respect to the proposed
mining plan; expanding haul and secondary roads around the pits, WRFs,
HLFs, and TSF; modifying the milling operation to process ore in an
ambient oxidation and leaching process; constructing and operating an
oxygen plant; constructing stormwater diversions, installing culverts,
and other stormwater controls; constructing growth media stockpiles;
incorporating four HRDI rights-of-way (ROWs) (microwave repeater site
and road [NVN046292], Floka access road [NVN054893], buried pipeline,
wells, power distribution and access roads [NVN046564], and road and
water pipeline [NVN039119]) that exist wholly within the authorized
Plan boundary into the amendment to the Plan and relinquish the ROWs
with the BLM; continuing use of the well field ROW; relocating
rangeland improvement facilities within the footprint of the Northeast
TSF; rerouting Rosebud Road around the Northeast TSF; reallocating 10
acres of exploration disturbance on private land to public land; and
implementing the authorized and proposed additional applicant-committed
Environmental Protection Measures to new facilities and activities.
Alternative A would result in approximately 4,800 acres less surface
disturbance, and the plan boundary would be nearly 7,800 acres less
than the proposed action. Under Alternative A, all components of the
proposed action would be the same except the Northeast TSF and all
associated infrastructure would not be constructed, rather, the
Southwest TSF would be constructed instead with all associated
infrastructure. Alternative A would include an expansion to the
authorized Plan of Operations boundary to accommodate the Southwest TSF
(Alternative A Expansion). The Alternative A Expansion of the Plan of
Operations boundary would encompass approximately 5,310 acres of public
lands administered by the BLM. Alternative A would expand the
authorized Project boundary, which encompasses 14,753 acres, by 5,310
acres of public lands administered by the BLM, for a combined total of
20,063 acres. Under Alternative A, HRDI would construct and operate an
approximately 2,426-acre facility (dam and tails surface) known as the
Southwest TSF to accommodate tailings generated by mining sulfide ore
below the groundwater table and processed in the authorized mill
facility located on private land.
    The Winnemucca District, Black Rock Field Office has selected
Alternative A, as outlined in Chapter 2 of the Draft EIS, including the
applicant's committed EPMs specified in the Draft EIS Section 5.3 and
all of the mitigation specified in the Draft EIS Section 5.2 for
Alternative A. This aligns with the USFWS Eagle Take Permit Alternative
A (USFWS Alternative A Eagle Permit Decision) as the Preferred Action
based on the outcome of the Final EIS. HRDI's Eagle Conservation Plan
contains commitments to avoid, minimize, and mitigate adverse effects
on golden eagles resulting from the implementation of the Project.
There are no new anticipated significant impacts on the cumulative
effects of the area since a mine already exists in the area; impacting
the air quality, visual resources, and the cultural viewshed of the
area.
    Ten alternatives addressing pit lake concerns, mine feature
concerns, and eagle permit concerns were considered but eliminated from
analysis for the inability meet the project's purpose and need,
technical feasibility, the inability to reduce environmental impacts
and for not being in compliance with regulatory and legal guidance.
    In addition, HRDI has submitted an application to the USFWS
requesting authorization to remove inactive golden eagle nests and for
incidental take under the Eagle Act for operational activities
associated with both the BLM's currently authorized mining activities
and proposed expansion Project. The Project would also affect golden
eagle nests and territories. HRDI's ECP is the foundation of the permit
application and contains commitments to avoid, minimize, and mitigate
adverse effects on golden eagles resulting from the implementation of
the Project.
    Through scoping the BLM has identified, and through the EIS the
agencies have analyzed impacts to the following resources areas: Air
and atmospheric resources; cultural resources (including National
Historic Trails); noxious weeds, invasive species, and nonnative
species; migratory birds; Native American religious concerns; wastes
and materials (hazardous and solid); water quality (surface and
ground); geology, minerals, and energy; golden eagles; lands and
realty; paleontology; rangeland management; recreation; social values
and economics; soils; special status species (plants and
[[Page 46967]]
wildlife); transportation and access; vegetation; visual resources; and
wildlife. The EIS describes and analyzes the proposed Project's direct,
indirect, and cumulative impacts on all affected resources.
    In addition to the Mine Expansion Proposed Action (BLM Decision)
and the Eagle Take Permit Proposed Action (USFWS Eagle Permit
Decision), the following alternatives are also analyzed in the EIS: The
Mine Expansion Alternative A (BLM Alternative Decision), referred to as
Alternative A; Eagle Take Permit Alternative A (USFWS Alternative A
Eagle Permit Decision); the BLM No Action Alternative; and the USFWS No
Action Alternative.
    On December 30, 2014, an initial Notice of Intent (NOI) was
published in the Federal Register inviting scoping comments on the
proposed action. A total of 14 scoping comment letters were received
for the December 20, 2014, through January 29, 2015, public scoping
period. On September 22, 2017, a second NOI was published in the
Federal Register inviting scoping comments on the requested eagle take
permit as related to the Eagle Take Permit Proposed Action (USFWS Eagle
Permit Decision) and the ECP. A total of nine scoping comment letters
were received during the September 22, 2017, through November 21, 2017,
public scoping period. Concerns raised included impacts to air quality,
cultural resources, environmental justice, lands, realty and
transportation, Native American religious concerns, rangeland
management, recreation, soils, visual resources, wastes and materials
(hazardous and solid), water resources, vegetation, and wildlife. A
total of nine public comment letters were received during the May 17,
2019, through July 14, 2019, public comment period. Concerns raised
included impacts to air quality, cultural resources, environmental
justice, Native American religious concerns, rangeland management,
recreation, soils, visual resources, wastes and materials (hazardous
and solid), water resources, vegetation, and wildlife. Further
clarification is provided in the Final EIS addressing these comments.
    The BLM has utilized and coordinated the NEPA scoping and comment
process to help fulfill the public involvement requirements under the
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (54 U.S.C. 306108) as
provided in 36 CFR 800.2(d)(3)--and continues to do so. The information
about historic and cultural resources within the area potentially
affected by the proposed Project has assisted the BLM in identifying
and evaluating impacts to such resources in the context of both NEPA
and Title 54 of the NHPA.
    The BLM and USFWS have consulted and continue to consult with
numerous Native Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis in
accordance with Executive Order 13175 and other policies. Tribal
concerns, including impacts to Indian trust assets and potential
impacts to cultural resources have been analyzed in the EIS.
    Federal, State, and local agencies, along with tribes and other
stakeholders that may be interested in or affected by the proposed
Project that the BLM and USFWS have evaluated, are notified of the
availability of the Final EIS. No ROD will issue for 30 days past the
publication of this NOA.
    Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7.
Ester McCullough,
District Manager, Winnemucca District Office.
Jody Holzworth,
Deputy Regional Director, Pacific Southwest Region, Sacramento,
California.
[FR Doc. 2019-19389 Filed 9-5-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4310-HC-P