Federal land managers have approved plans to expand a gold and silver mine in north-central Nevada that had stopped mining in 2007.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management determined there would be no harmful environmental impacts resulting from the proposed expansion of Coeur d'Alene Corp.'s Rochester mine, about 20 miles northeast of Lovelock, BLM Director Bob Abbey said Wednesday during an announcement in Reno.
Abbey, the BLM's former state director in Nevada, said he was glad the agency could expedite the environmental assessment because the project will "create new jobs and help stimulate economical support for the county and local community."
The expansion is expected to produce nearly 200 new jobs.
Officials for Idaho-based Coeur d'Alene said work will begin next month with new production to begin the fourth quarter of next year. They project annual production of 2.5 million ounces of silver and 30,000 ounces of gold over the next six years.
"We're very pleased," Rochester General Manager Cindy Jones said. She said Rochester plans a job fair Thursday at the community center in Lovelock from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Coeur d'Alene officials stated that capital costs for expanding Rochester are estimated at $29 million in 2011 and $38 million over the life of the project.
Since it opened in 1986, the mine has produced more than 125 million ounces of silver and 1 million ounces of gold.
Gov. Jim Gibbons and Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign backed the project in negotiations between Coeur d'Alene and BLM. Reid said annual salaries for the new jobs will average $86,000.
"We have been working together for over a year to make this mine expansion possible," Reid said. "These high-paying jobs will make a big difference to families in northern Nevada."
Ensign said the mine is "vital to the economic stability of Pershing County."
"People across Nevada are grappling with record-high unemployment rates, but in counties such as Pershing where one industry is the main source of employment, high unemployment is crippling," he said. "Right now, it's crucial that we protect and fight for private sector jobs in our state."
Information from: Elko Daily Free Press, http://www.elkodaily.com