Secretary Bernhardt Touts Streamlined NEPA Processes and Spotlights Nevada Gold Mines’ Pledge to America’s Worker
US Department of the Interior reports 7.23.2019 – Elko, NV – Today at the Cortez Mine, Nevada Gold Mines LLC signed the Trump Administration’s Pledge to America’s Workers alongside U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt, who touted the Department of the Interior’s streamlined National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) processes as a reason for their commitment and the Deep South expansion project.
July marks the one-year anniversary of President Trump’s Pledge to America’s Workers campaign, which has generated commitments from more than 280 companies – large and small. These companies have pledged to create nearly 10 million apprenticeships and other on-the-job training and continuing education opportunities for Americans from high school to those nearing retirement, so they will have the skills necessary to provide for themselves and their families.
“Whether Crescent Valley or Silicon Valley, companies signing the Pledge to America’s Workers are prioritizing continued education and training for their workforce, strengthening America’s economy,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “At the Department of the Interior, we have been laser focused on implementing common sense improvements to our business processes while maintaining important environmental standards to better serve the American people and foster greater opportunities for America’s workers.”
The Cortez Mine has been in continuous operation since 1862 and now ranks as one of the world’s Top 10 Tier One gold mines with the Deep South expansion project increasing the acreage of the mine. Nevada Gold Mines LLC highlighted important changes to DOI’s administration of NEPA as an improvement to the permitting process, which have provided clear transparency and a greater understanding of the environmental consequences associated with development projects.
“The Deep South environmental impact statement represented a significant enhancement of the NEPA permitting process. In the past, each EIS approval required the publication of Notices of Intent and Availability which added around 18 months to the permitting timeline. The industry worked with the Department of the Interior to see if this step in the process could be streamlined, and the solution provided by then Deputy Secretary Bernhardt delivered a material improvement,” said Nevada Gold Mines’ Executive Managing Director Greg Walker.
Changes to how DOI administers NEPA stem from President Trump’s Executive Order 13807: Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects. DOI issued Order 3355 in accordance with this executive order, which implemented a new, streamlined process for infrastructure and energy projects.
The Order requires that environmental impact statement (EIS) documents be completed in one year and in less than 150 pages with exceptions for those that are unusually complex or in coordination with other Federal agencies. Additionally, to achieve improved efficiency without sacrificing any science, quality, or legal sufficiency, the DOI’s Solicitor’s Office is involved in each EIS from day one, and DOI’s Bureaus review each EIS in a concurrent briefing format rather than linearly. This has reduced EIS timelines by nearly a year per project.
Barrick Gold reports – ELKO, Nevada – July 23, 2019 –US Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt today visited Nevada Gold Mines’ Cortez mine where he saw first-hand its Deep South expansion project, a highlight of the Department’s expedited permitting process.
The Deep South project will extend the life of Cortez, which has been in continuous operation since 1862 and now ranks as one of the world’s Top 10 Tier One1 gold mines. It is a key initiative for Nevada Gold Mines, a joint venture launched earlier this month and owned 61.5% by Barrick Gold Corporation, which operates it, and 38.5% by Newmont Goldcorp.
Nevada Gold Mines’ executive managing director Greg Walker said the company was delighted to host Secretary Bernhardt and noted that as Deputy Secretary, he led the process reform which helped to expedite the review of the Deep South environmental impact statement (EIS).
“The Deep South EIS represented a significant enhancement of the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) permitting process. In the past, each EIS approval required up to 18 months for Notices of Intent and Availability. The industry worked with the Department of the Interior (DOI) to see if this step in the process could be streamlined and the solution provided by then Deputy Secretary Bernhardt delivered a material improvement,” he said.
“Some 98% of our former, current and planned operations are on public land administered by DOI agencies and we maintain a close and productive relationship with the Federal Government and the State of Nevada. The Department authorizes mining on public land and regulates landscape-scale habitat upliftment projects. As partners with the DOI, we support the protection of sage-grouse and rehabilitation of their habitat as well as an outcome-based grazing pilot program, to benefit the land and local communities.”
Walker said Nevada Gold Mines was destined to be one of the world’s greatest gold mining operations and planned to mine several world-class projects in its immediate and longer-term future. These include newly identified deposits at Goldrush, Robertson and perhaps Fourmile, as well as the expansion of the existing ore bodies at Cortez Hills, Pipeline and other locations. These growth projects will continue to provide a broad range of employment opportunities for years to come. All these projects, he said, are dependent on the NEPA process and its continued improvement.
“Our mission is to create sustainable, long-term value for all stakeholders, not least the state and people of Nevada by combining best assets with best people. To achieve this we are committed to continue building on our education, training and upskilling programs which involve scholarships, bursary schemes, such as leadership development and Science Technology Engineering Art Math (STEAM) initiatives in school and university education and vocational training institutions, as well as on the job training with a strong focus on America’s workers,” he said.