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Feds OK big Nevada mine project

The Associated Press
November 23rd, 2008

CARSON CITY, Nev.—The federal Bureau of Land Management has approved an environmental impact statement for the big Cortez Hills open-pit gold mining project in Nevada—an action sought for several years by Barrick Gold Corp.

Lou Schack, communications manager for Barrick Gold of North America, said Friday the project in Lander County, which includes both open-pit and underground mining, is on track with an initial capital budget of about $500 million.

Schack said the project is in an area that has seen mining activity since the late 1800s. He said exploration over the last decade led to the discovery of the deposits that Barrick wants to mine.

Greg Lang, president of Barrick's North America region, said the Cortez Hills project creates new economic development and job opportunities in rural Nevada "at a time when other industry projects in Nevada are being shelved and jobs are being lost."

Barrick plans to have the operation producing about 1 million ounces of gold a year in its first full five years of production. Underground mining is to start this year wile the open-pit operation should start up in late 2009 or early 2010.

Barrick also signed an agreement with leaders of several Western Shoshone leaders to help improve education, business and job opportunities for tribal members. Not among those leaders is Carrie Dann of the Western Shoshone Defense Project, which has opposed mining activity on what it considers Western Shoshone land.

Activists who oppose the mining are threatening litigation against the BLM's approval of the Cortez Hills EIS. The company issued a statement saying it will "vigorously and expeditiously oppose any challenge."


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