Comstock Mining Inc.
Dayton Consolidated Exploration Project Permit #0315
A three-member panel of the State Environmental Commission (SEC) conducted an appeal hearing on the above referenced permit on Thursday February 16, 2012 at at the Nevada Department of Wildlife in Reno, Nevada. After hearing from all parties the Commission dismissed the appeal through acceptance of the motion to dismiss presented by counsel for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection. The Commissions
order dismissing the appeal
is prsented below.
Listen to the proceedings
Hearing Audio file [2 hours and 22 minutes]
Read court reporters transcript
Hearing Transcript File [186 Pages -- 440KB]
Background: In July 2011, Comstock Mining Inc. applied for an exploration permit from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection (NDEP) for the Dayton Consolidated Exploration project in Lyon County, Nevada (i.e., in the vicinity of Silver City, Nevada). The exploration permit covers 23.0 acres. Anticipated surface disturbance would occur from construction of exploration roads and drill pads and sumps; all proposed activities are on private lands. On October 10, 2011 NDEP issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) for the project. The NOI recognized the project area had pre-existing disturbance associate with historic pre-1990 mining activities. With issuance of the NOI the NDEP scheduled a public hearing on the project, which was subsequently held on November 16, 2011.
On December 20, 2011 NDEP issued a "Notice of Final Decision" for the project by issuing Reclamation Permit (No #0315) to Comstock Mining In. The permit became effective on December 31, 2011. Of note, the NDEP's decision notice contains responses to all public comments submitted on the project. NDEP's Notice of Intent (NOI), Notice of Final Decision and the Final Permit #0315 are presented below. In addition NDEP's PowerPoint presentation given at the above referenced public hearing along with a verbatim transcript is also provided below.
Following NDEP's decision, the Comstock Residents Association (CRA) appealed NDEP's permit decision; the appeal was filed with the State Environmental Commission on December 20, 2011.
About the Appeal: The CRS appeal made note of the historic mills and mines located in the project areas noting that such sites are the source of mercury, arsenic and lead contamination. It was purported that unique hazards resulting from exploratory mining within the Carson River Mercury Site (Nevada's only Superfund Site) would be disturbed by exploration and reclamation activities associated with the permit. The appeal stated that "prior to the issuing of any permit, the NDEP should determine the extent of the hazard, require the development of a mitigation plan and then consider whether the project should go forward."
The appeal states that a Sampling and Analysis Plan (SAP) for testing mine wastes and/or mill tailings disturbed by historic exploration activities would not take into account mercury deposits throughout the project area. It was further noted that "NDEP's response to comments made at the Public Hearing on the draft permit stated that the SAP would be applicable to historic disturbed areas, however the permit conditions provide no mechanism for assuring that the evaluation of historic areas would continue upon the expiration of the permit." The CRA appeal also suggested that a management plan for addressing hazardous waste was not addressed. Other concerns expressed suggest the narrow scope of the permit creates a "regulatory blind spot" that obscures potential harm to the environment and the health and safety of the public.
Of note, NDEP has developed a comprehensive website explaining all of the agencies permitting and regulatory activities in the vicinity of the Dayton Consolidated Exploration Project Permit.