If President Barack Obama signs the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as expected, Resolution Copper’s Arizona project and Nevada Copper’s Pumpkin Hollow Copper project in Nevada will finally get the land exchanges they need to move ahead on their mining projects, thanks to land riders attached to the defense spending bill.
While Nevada Copper has not yet commented on the Senate passage of NDAA 2015, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, observed the Nevada Copper Pumpkin Hollow project will generate more than 1,000 new jobs in the economically hard-hit Yerington, Nevada area, at an average wage of more than $85,000 annually.
“As I said before, copper is the second most used mineral at the Department of Defense and is considered an essential mineral for weapons production,” said Heller. “Copper is also the primary mineral from which other strategic and critical minerals like Rhenium are derived. A domestic supply of this important resource greatly benefits our national security.”
In a statement, Resolution Copper Project Director, Andrew Taplin, said, “Passage of this legislation means that Resolution Copper can move forward with the development of this world-class ore body which will create approximate 3,700 jobs, generate over $60 billion in economic impact and result in almost $20 billion in state and federal tax payments.”
“There is much work to be done before commercial mining can begin and Resolution Copper looks forward to working with all stakeholders as we continue to progress through the regulatory review process toward responsible development and operations of a world-class copper mine that will safely produce over 25% of the current annual demand for copper in the United States,” he added.
Despite their defeats on the mining land exchanges, environmentalists have scored a victory as 362,000 acres of federal lands in Montana and 57,449 acres of Bureau of Land management land in Nevada will be withdrawn from mining exploration, mineral leasing and mining development.
A total of nearly 250,000 acres of federal land in Nevada, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Washington State will be designated as federal Wilderness areas, while another 289,000 acres will be withdrawn from natural resources production, including mining exploration and development. Nevertheless, the measure transfer more than 110,000 acres out of federal ownership for economic development such as mining, logging and infrastructure improvements.
NDAA also speeds up the process for getting oil and gas drilling permits in the United States. “We have included a bipartisan agreement to streamline oil and gas permitting on federal lands,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and the Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She will chair the committee in the new session of Congress.
The NDAA also authorizes the Secretary of Interior to issue $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins, and not more than $750,000 half-dollar coins to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the National Park Service.
Outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said, “This package protects over 1 million acres of landscapes, watersheds, and historic treasures. It protects over 140 miles of wild and scenic rivers throughout our country.” Reid is expected to be elected as Senate Minority Leader when the new session of Congress begins in January.