The scoping process for the proposed Gibellini Vanadium Mine Project near Eureka has been initiated by the Bureau of Land Management, Mount Lewis Office.
Located approximately 27 miles southeast of Eureka, The Gibellini Project would produce nearly 10 million pounds of vanadium annually, which would represent approximately 50 percent of U.S. demand, making the project a significant domestic contributor.
The project is a proposal by the Nevada Vanadium Company to construct, operate, reclaim, and close an open pit, heap leach, vanadium mining operation known as the Gibellini Project. The proposed project is in the southern extent of the Fish Creek Range on 6,456 acres of federal lands administered by the BLM in Eureka County.
“If approved, this project would provide hundreds of jobs and will contribute to the nation’s domestic source of critical minerals,”U Battle Mountain district manager said in a statement. “The Gibellini mine would also be the first vanadium mine in the U.S. and, in accordance with Secretarial Order 3355, we anticipate having a record of decision in 12 months.”
Vanadium, one of the 35 Critical Minerals identified by the U.S. Geological Survey, was first used in the early 1900s and goes into everything from automobile parts to aircraft titanium.
The 35 Critical Minerals list includes rare earth elements, as well as other metals such as lithium, indium, tellurium, gallium and platinum group elements. The critical minerals are used to manufacture everything from batteries and LCD screens to alloys for the aerospace and defense industries, integrated circuits, optical devices, medical imaging and hundreds of other applications. Without these minerals, the nation’s economy would grind to a halt, and the technological edge maintained by the Armed Forces and Intelligence community would erode.
There is currently no primary domestic production of vanadium, making the United States dependent on foreign sources; this creates a strategic vulnerability for both the economy and military to adverse government action or other events that can disrupt the supply of this key mineral.
The project consists of construction and operation of an open pit mining operation and heap leach process facility to extract and recover vanadium and minor amounts of uranium as a secondary product; the anticipated mine life is approximately seven years. The project would commence in 2021. Reclamation and site closure activities would require approximately four years to complete. Post-closure monitoring is estimated to take an additional 30 years. The proposed project includes mineral exploration activities in the project area.
Approximately 3.3 million tons of material would be mined annually. Mining and crushing would occur up to 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Nevada Vanadium Company would employ up to 120 employees for the construction of the proposed Gibellini Project. During mine operations, there would be up to 120 employees with approximately 30 employees on-site at any one time, including contractors.
Recognizing the importance of critical minerals, in 2017 President Trump issued Executive Order 13817, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals,” which directed the Secretaries of Interior and Commerce to lead the development of a government-wide strategy to protect and expand access by U.S. manufacturers and suppliers to necessary critical minerals. In turn, the Secretary of the Interior issued Secretary’s Order 3359, “Critical Mineral Independence and Security”, leading to the development of the final critical minerals list in May 2018.
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