By Riamy Beuscher, RCAC communications intern

Reno, Nevada – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) decision to allow mining of molybdenum at Mt. Hope has been challenged by the Great Basin Resource Watch and The Western Shoshone Defense Project.

The proposed project, a joint venture between Colorado-based General Moly and South Korean POSCO, is expected to produce 1.2 billion saleable pounds of molybdenum as technical grade molybdenum oxide. However, the Mt. Hope mine has generated controversy regarding access to public water reserves.

Opponents of the Mt. Hope mine claim the project will significantly impact local water supplies. More than 10 million gallons of water is anticipated to be pumped at the proposed mine site daily for up to 43 years potentially drying up nearby springs.

Challengers claim BLM overlooked a 1926 executive order that states, “all land within one quarter of a mile of every spring or water be reserved for public use.” The order, known as Public Water Reserve 107, is meant to protect shared water sources on public land.

“We just don’t think the record supports their decision to essentially ignore protecting the public water reserves,” Roger Flynn, an attorney for the plaintiffs, Great Basin Resource Watch and Western Shoshone Defense Project, told a three-judge panel during oral arguments at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

However, Robert Lundman, an attorney for BLM, argued that the environmental impact statement served as justification.

“The EIS here addresses each spring and shows data by spring and that they are not important,” Lundman said. “There are 31 springs in the area and we are talking about four.”

What is molybdenum?

Molybdenum is a metallic element which is primarily used in steel manufacturing. When added to steel, molybdenum enhances strength and resistance to corrosion. Molybdenum serves an important role in the petroleum refining process, acting as an agent to remove sulfur from liquid fuels.

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