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U.S. Energy optimistic about moly mine progress in 2013 Print
Written by Mark Reaman   
Wednesday, 09 January 2013

Forest Service in holding pattern over PoO. HCCA will look at the plan...

U.S. Energy Corp. is keeping its promise and continuing with its pursuit of a Plan of Operations (PoO) to mine molybdenum from Mt. Emmons. It hopes to gain further approvals in 2013.


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But while the mining company had hoped to keep its preliminary PoO proposal to the U.S. Forest Service under wraps, saying that it contained proprietary information, a local environmental group has gained federal approval to review the proposal. The High Country Citizens’ Alliance (HCCA) hopes to look at and analyze the proposal starting late this week.
According to a budget announcement released by USE this week, “The Company has approved a budget of $5.4 million for the advancement of the Mount Emmons Molybdenum project. This includes operation of the water treatment plant, plant upgrades, continued permitting, the acquisition of Thompson Creek’s interest in the Highlands Ranch property, legal, and lobbying expenses.”
“Regarding our Mount Emmons project, the company plans to devote considerable resources to the advancement of the property in 2013,” said CEO of USE Keith Larsen. “We made considerable strides in advancing the project in 2012 with the filing of our Mine Plan of Operations in October 2012, and we look forward to entering the NEPA [National Environmental Policy Act] process in 2013.”
As announced in November, U.S. Energy filed a Mine Plan of Operations with the U.S. Forest Service on October 10, 2012 in Delta, Colo. The plan is currently under review by the USFS as to its completeness. Upon acceptance by the USFS, the document will officially be released to the general public in its entirety. U.S. Energy had hoped to keep the plan under wraps citing proprietary information included in the plan.
But HCCA filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see the proposed plan as submitted, and after being denied in Colorado, won an appeal to the Forest Service’s Washington, D.C. office. According to HCCA water director Jennifer Bock, the environmental organization expects to be able to look over the PoO in the coming week and share it with the public.
According to Forest Service external affairs officer Lee Ann Loupe in Delta, “The proposed plan of operation that U.S. Energy submitted to the Forest Service for the Mt. Emmons mine is still under review within the agency. The Forest Service has asked for additional information [and] clarifications from USE and is awaiting that information. When received, the Forest Service will continue to evaluate the PoO in accordance with law, policy and regulation.”
Loupe said the agency timeline is dependent upon receiving the information and further review. Once the NEPA analysis process is entered into, there will be opportunity for public input and involvement in evaluating the proposed activities.
Last year, U.S. Energy had been engaged in negotiations between local environmental groups along with state and federal officials to try to come to a deal that would shift the mining rights away from U.S. Energy in a complicated land exchange. The idea was to prohibit molybdenum mining on Mt. Emmons in perpetuity. That deal stalled late last year, given constraints and timing with the U.S. Congress. All the parties are still open to such a negotiation but it appears nothing is happening at the moment.

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