[Federal Register: May 13, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 91)]
[Notices]               
[Page 22511-22512]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr13my09-23]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

 
Cibola National Forest, Mount Taylor Ranger District, NM, La Jara 
Mesa Mine

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement.

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SUMMARY: Laramide Resources (USA) Inc. has submitted a Plan of 
Operations (the Plan) proposing to develop and conduct underground 
uranium mining operations on their mining claims on La Jara Mesa on the 
Mount Taylor Ranger District of the Cibola National Forest. La Jara 
Mesa is located approximately 10 miles northeast of the town of Grants 
in Cibola County, New Mexico. The mine portal facilities would be 
located on claims controlled by the applicant on national forest lands 
at the base of the La Jara Mesa at an elevation of 7,300 feet in the 
NE\1/4\, Section 15, T12N, R9W, NMPM. The mineralized zones that would 
be accessed from the portal are located in portions of Sections 1, 2, 
11, 12, 13, and 14, T12N, R9W, NMPM. The escape shaft would be located 
on Forest Service administered lands on top of La Jara Mesa in Section 
11, T12N, R9W, NMPM. The Cibola National Forest will prepare an 
environmental impact statement to assess the development of a uranium 
exploration and mining operation on the Mount Taylor Ranger District.

DATES: Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received 
by 30 days after the publication of the NOI. Public scoping open houses 
will be held during the scoping period in Grants and Gallup New Mexico. 
The schedule for the open houses is as follows: Wednesday, May 20, 2009 
in Grants, New Mexico, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Cibola County 
Convention Center and Thursday, May 21, 2009 in Gallup, New Mexico from 
6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Gallup Community Service Center. Times and 
locations of these meetings will be announced by public notice and will 
be available on the Cibola National Forest Web site. The draft 
environmental impact statement is expected before the end of 2009 and 
the final environmental impact statement and Record of Decision (ROD) 
is expected in spring/summer, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Send written comments to Rodney Byers, Minerals Program 
Manager, Cibola National Forest, 2113 Osuna Road, NE., Albuquerque, NM 
87113.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information, mail 
correspondence to Rodney Byers, Minerals Program Manager, Cibola 
National Forest, 2113 Osuna Road, NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113.
    Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) 
may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 
between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Purpose and Need for Action

    Laramide Resources (USA), Inc. has submitted a Plan of Operations 
for development of a uranium mine at the La Jara Mesa property. The 
purpose of the EIS is to evaluate the environmental impacts of the 
proposed Plan of Operations and determine whether to approve the Plan 
as proposed or to require additional mitigation measures to protect the 
environment (in accordance with Forest Service regulations for 
locatable minerals).
    The need for action is to allow Laramide Resources (USA), Inc. to 
exercise their rights under U.S. mining laws. Laramide Resources (USA), 
Inc. has a right to develop and remove the mineral resources as set 
forth by the General Mining Law of 1872 as amended. These laws provide 
that the public has a statutory right to conduct prospecting, 
exploration, development and production activities (1872 Mining Law and 
1897 Organic Act), provided they are reasonably incident (1955 Multiple 
Use Mining Act and case law) to mining and comply with other Federal 
laws.
    The Forest Service has the responsibility to protect surface 
resources. Mining regulations state that ``operations shall be 
conducted so as, where feasible, to minimize adverse environmental 
effects on National Forest System surface resources (36 CFR 228.8)'' 
provided such regulation does not endanger or materially interfere with 
prospecting, mining, or processing operations or reasonably incidental 
uses (1955 Multiple Use Mining Act and case law).
    Laramide Resources (USA), Inc.'s need is to provide uranium ore for 
processing to meet national and international market demands for 
uranium on the open market. Such demand is created by a current need 
for uranium for nuclear power plant fuel to generate electricity or for 
commercial and other uses. The Forest Service has concluded that the 
underlying need for this mining activity is to provide uranium for U.S. 
and world markets.

Proposed Action

    The proposed action is an underground uranium mine consisting of a 
15-16 acre footprint on the surface which will be comprised of waste 
rock, temporary ore storage, a new water line and electrical 
transmission line following the existing private and Forest roads to 
the site. The mine will include two audit portals and, after active 
mining is initiated, a vertical escape shaft to the top of the mesa to 
provide air circulation and an escape route in the event of an 
accident. The shaft opening and supporting power and equipment will lie 
inside a fenced area of approximately 0.1 acre. Additional

[[Page 22512]]

facilities at the mine include a locked explosives storage shed, 
lighting, ventilation fans, one or more stormwater ponds, and a field 
office. The proposed Federal action is to approve Laramide Resources 
(USA), Inc.'s Plan of Operations with mitigations needed to protect 
other non-mineral surface resources consistent with Forest Plan, 
regulations, and other applicable laws.

Possible Alternatives

    1. No Action. 2. Approve the Plan as presented. 3. Approve the Plan 
as presented by Laramide Resources (USA), Inc., with stipulations 
necessary to protect the non-mineral resources of the area.

Responsible Official

    Nancy Rose, Forest Supervisor, Cibola National Forest. 2113 Osuna 
Road, NE., Albuquerque, NM 87113.

Nature of Decision To Be Made

    The Forest Supervisor will use the EIS process to develop the 
necessary information to make an informed decision on whether or not to 
approve the proposed Plan as submitted, or to decide what additional 
mitigations are needed to protect other resources as provided for in 36 
CFR 228.8.

Scoping Process

    Scoping will include this NOI, listing in the Quarterly Schedule of 
Proposed Actions, letters to interested and affected individuals, 
agencies, and organizations, and legal notices, and the open houses in 
Grants and Gallup, New Mexico. Additional information about the 
project, schedule, permits and approvals, and opportunities for public 
involvement will be available at the open houses. The intent of scoping 
is to solicit comments on issues and alternatives that agencies and the 
public feel should be addressed in the EIS.

Preliminary Issues

    One preliminary issue has been identified: the development of the 
La Jara Mesa Mine may affect the characteristics that make the Mount 
Taylor Traditional Cultural Property eligible for the National Register 
of Historic Places. Other issues may include groundwater contamination, 
natural resources, economics and health and safety issues.

Permits or Licenses Required

    The approved Plan of Operations authorizes mining. Operations must 
be consistent with Forest Service Conditions of Approval, and other 
applicable laws and regulations, including state permits for mining in 
New Mexico.

Comment Requested

    This notice of intent initiates the scoping process which guides 
the development of the environmental impact statement. Comments are 
solicited and are welcome for the 30-day comment period initiating on 
the publication date of this notice.
    It is important that reviewers provide their comments at such times 
and in such a way that they are useful to the Agency's preparation of 
the EIS. Therefore, comments should be provided prior to the close of 
the comment period and should clearly articulate the reviewer's 
concerns and contentions. The submission of timely and specific 
comments can affect a reviewer's ability to participate in subsequent 
administrative review or judicial review. Comments received in response 
to this solicitation, including names and addresses of those who 
comment, will be part of the public record for this proposed action. 
Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; 
however, anonymous comments will not provide the respondent with 
standing to participate in subsequent administrative review or judicial 
review.

    Authority: 40 CFR 1501.7 and 1508.22; 36 CFR 220.4.

    Dated: April 30, 2009.
Nancy Rose,
Forest Supervisor, Cibola National Forest.
[FR Doc. E9-11223 Filed 5-12-09; 8:45 am]

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