Environmental Permitting.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) published a Record of Decision (ROD) on April 10, 2014, authorizing ICP to construct and operate the Ochoa mine and mill, including all mining and processing facilities to be located in southeast New Mexico. The signed ROD marks the final decision by the BLM based on analysis described in the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

U.S. federal law requires the BLM to prepare an EIS for actions that may have a significant impact on the environment. During the EIS process, which is now complete, the BLM evaluated the potential impacts that could result from the Project, consulted with other federal, state, and local agencies, and considered comments received from the public. Based on more than two years of careful and comprehensive study of water resources, cultural resources, natural resources, air quality and other resources, the BLM issued their decision approving the construction and operation of the Project and granting the requested rights of way for the Project facilities.

The Preferred Alternative identified in the ROD incorporates the same proposed mine area, mining methods, facilities, processing methods and water demands, well field and water pipeline, and loadout facilities as proposed by ICP, but includes a smaller tailings stockpile, additional monitoring and reclamation requirements, formalized coordination with stakeholders, and a dispute resolution process.

As described in the ROD, in addition to ongoing activities designed to mitigate disruption to the environment, the following activities will be ongoing:

  • Preference Right Leases – ICP has been granted preference right leases by the BLM for approximately 14,774 acres. These leases, in conjunction with those from the State of New Mexico, provide all potassium mining leases required for the 50 year mine plan area approved by the BLM in their ROD. ICP will continue to work on securing leases that cover the area beyond the 50 year mine plan. The BLM can only grant a preference right lease after the applicant demonstrates the existence of a valuable deposit. 
  • Cultural Resources -  Under the data recovery and treatment plan that has been approved by both the BLM and New Mexico State agencies, ICP must recover cultural resources data from sites in the tailings storage area in advance of ground-disturbing construction activities at those sites. Project construction shall not begin until the completion of the field work, analysis of the cultural material, and an acceptable final report is received and approved by the BLM, New Mexico State Historic Preservation Division, and the New Mexico Cultural Property Review Committee.
  • Required Monitoring – ICP will finalize the Water Resources and Subsidence Monitoring Plans before commencing with operations. Each plan was prepared during the EIS process and describes the methods, locations, and frequency of monitoring activities. Other monitoring plans for birds, dust, noxious weeds, and re-vegetation and reclamation will be implemented during both construction and operations.

A pdf of the ROD is available for download here.