NEPA Process Overview

Ioneer is seeking approval from the federal government to being construction at Rhyolite Ridge under the rules of the National Environmental Policy Act, commonly known as the NEPA process.

In Preparation for the NEPA process, Ioneer has to date:

  • Completed baseline studies and associated field work for 14 different resource areas of Rhyolite Ridge Project (e.g., air quality, biology, cultural resources, groundwater, recreation, socioeconomics, soils, and rangeland).
  • Submitted the required Plan of Operations (Plan), which includes measures to be implemented to prevent unnecessary or undue degradation of public lands by operations authorized under the Mining Act (1872). It describes all aspects of the project including construction, operations, reclamation, and environmental protection measures.

PROCESS TIMELINE

Environmental stewardship core to Ioneer’s mission. We are committed to investing time and resources into minimizing potential impacts of our project to local flora and fauna.

In August 2020, Ioneer submitted its initial Plan of Operations to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Following consultation and guidance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the BLM, we submitted a revised Plan of Operations to the BLM in July 2022 to reflect the modification of the initial mining quarry, avoiding all known populations of the Tiehm’s buckwheat.

The Plan has been deemed complete by the BLM and will serve as the guiding document for compliance throughout operations and closure of the mine.

During the next and final stages of the NEPA process, the federal government will assess and review our plans to mitigate any project impacts on the environment. Upon satisfaction of those conditions, approval is expected in 2024.

Any anticipated approval will specify what we must undertake to comply with all relevant laws during operations, and our plan to close and reclaim the area once mining is complete.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT RHYOLITE RIDGE

  • During the two-year construction period, the Project will employ 400-500 workers and 250-300 workers once operational. Median total compensation levels will be approximately $141,000.
  • Rhyolite Ridge is estimated to contribute approximately $15 – $25 million in taxes to state and local governments during construction. Once operational, the project is estimated to contribute $13 – $35 million annually through property taxes, net proceeds on minerals, and other taxes and fees.
  • Due to the unique ore found at Rhyolite Ridge, the water usage associated with the production of lithium is much lower compared to current domestic production. The process is designed to recycle the majority of water usage, further reducing water demand.
  • There is no need for tailings dams or evaporation ponds because of the unique searlesite at Rhyolite Ridge.
  • The design of Rhyolite Ridge’s processing facility will allow the company to produce sufficient electricity to power its processing operations, meaning zero-reliance on the electrical grid.
  • Ioneer’s ability to process this resilient, domestic supply of lithium on-site for use in the U.S. battery supply chain greatly reduces the environmental impact of shipping across oceans.
  • Ioneer has signed three binding offtake agreements with some of the largest car manufacturers in the world to supply Nevada lithium for US Vehicles: Ford Motor Company, Prime Planet Energy and Solutions (a joint venture between Toyota and Panasonic), and EcoPro Innovation. Additionally, Ioneer signed an offtake agreement with Nevada based Dragonfly Energy which will allow for Nevada sourced lithium carbonate to be used in Nevada manufactured batteries.
  • Ioneer has also entered into Memorandums of Understanding with Nextech Batteries in Carson City, and Lithion in Henderson in an effort to bolster the State’s and the US domestic lithium battery supply chain.

What’s Next?

Notice of Intent (NOI)

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has published a NOI to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Rhyolite Ridge project.

Public Scoping Process

The BLM hosted two scoping meetings regarding the Project.

Wednesday, January 4th at 2:00PM PST

Thursday, January 5th at 5:00PM PST

The Scoping Period Concluded March 6, 2023

CURRENT PHASE

Draft EIS (DEIS)

Following review of initial public comments, the BLM will develop a DEIS that will describe any potential impacts to the environment and Ioneer’s plans to offset or mitigate them.

Public Comment

Following issuance of the DEIS, the public will then be provided another opportunity to review and comment. The BLM may these comments to either conduct further analysis of the plan which may result in Ioneer modifying the proposed mitigation plan.

Final EIS (FEIS)

After comments on the DEIS have been collected and reviewed, the BLM will publish a FEIS and draft Record of Decision (ROD).

Public Comment

Comments on the FEIS and ROD will be collected and reviewed by the BLM. Changes may be made in response to comments.

Issuance of Record of Decision (ROD)

The BLM will then issue a ROD indicating acceptance of Ioneer’s plan. The public is then provided with an opportunity to object to this decision and the BLM is required to respond and address any concerns raised. Once this process is complete and Ioneer receives a final Record of Decision, the BLM can issue a final approved plan of operations.

Nevada Permits

In addition to the NEPA permitting process, Ioneer is required to receive permits from other authorities, which were issued by In June and July 2021 respectively. The Nevada Department of Environmental Protection issued two key Nevada State permits, the Class II Air Quality Permit and the Water Pollution Control Permit. Rhyolite Ridge is the first developmental lithium project in Nevada to receive both of these two key permits.

Once all necessary permits, including the federal Record of Decision, are received, construction of the Rhyolite Ridge project can proceed.