Bald Mountain Mine south of the Ruby Mountains has started expansion work now that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved an alternate plan that mitigates concerns about mule deer migration, including a major cut in the acreage that can be disturbed.
The plan also eases concerns about sage grouse habitat, wild horses and views from the Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge. “Water also was one of those considerations,” said Jill Moore, Bristlecone Field Office manager for the Ely BLM district.
The chosen alternative will disturb 3,097 acres, compared with the original proposal for an expansion that would disturb 7,097 acres. “That’s a 56 percent reduction in proposed disturbance,” said Stephanie Trujillo, assistant field manager for the Ely BLM District’s Bristlecone Field Office. “A lot of it is environmental impact reduction.”
The reduction in acreage includes dropping 2,169 acres permitted but never disturbed for earlier projects.
Although it was the BLM’s decision to go with the Western Redbird Modification Alternative, the mine owner at the time, Barrick Gold Corp., offered that alternative, and new owner Kinross Gold Corp. agreed to the proposal. Kinross acquired Bald Mountain gold-mining operations in January 2016.
“Barrick actually proposed it, and we picked it up where Barrick left it,” said Randy Burggraff, general manager of the Bald Mountain operations. “We’re very excited about the BLM decision. It allows for increased exploration activities and mine expansion, and gives us flexibility for future growth.”
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