NEPA Process Overview

Before construction at Rhyolite Ridge can begin, we must first obtain approval from the federal government under the rules of the National Environmental Policy Act, commonly known as the NEPA process.

Rhyolite Ridge Project Process Timeline

Per the requirements of of 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 is 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. Under the NEPA process, the federal government assesses, reviews and approves Ioneer’s plans to mitigate any project impacts on the environment.

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

HOW DOES THE PROCESS BEGIN?

In August 2020, Ioneer’s Plan of Operations was accepted by the BLM and was deemed complete. This Plan is the central NEPA permitting document for Rhyolite Ridge and will serve as the guiding document for compliance throughout operations and closure of the mine.

What’s Next?

Notice of Intent (NOI)

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will publish a NOI to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Rhyolite Ridge project. BLM will then host public meetings to provide a description of the project and allow the public to have the opportunity to comment on the project.

Public Scoping Process

BLM will then host public meetings to provide a description of the project and allow the public to have the opportunity to comment on the project.

Draft EIS (DEIS)

After initial public comments are received and reviewed, the BLM will develop a DEIS that will describe any potential impacts to the environment and how Ioneer 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 on it. The BLM will use these comments to either conduct further analysis of the plan which may require Ioneer to modify any mitigation plans.

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 ROD

The BLM will then issue a Record of Decision 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. Two key Nevada State permits are the Water Pollution Control Permit and the Class II Air Quality Permit.

Once necessary permits are received, construction of the Rhyolite Ridge project can proceed.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT RHYOLITE RIDGE

  • During the 2-year construction period the Project will employ 400-500 workers, and 250-300 long-term jobs once in operation with an median total compensation levels of ~$141,000 according to Applied Analysis estimates.
  • Rhyolite Ridge is estimated to contribute approximately $15 – $25 million in taxes to state and local governments during construction. Once in operation, Applied Analysis estimates that the project will 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.
  • The unique searlesite ore also can be processed in a way such that there is no need for tailings dams or evaporation ponds.
  • The design of Rhyolite Ridge’s processing facility will allow the company to produce sufficient electricity to power its entire operation, meaning zero-reliance on the electrical grid.
  • Lithium and boron that will be sourced from Rhyolite Ridge are two materials essential for the increased deployment of clean technologies and sustainability.
  • Lithium specifically is listed by the U.S. government as critical mineral given its importance to national defense, and our current dependence on foreign countries to provide it. Sourcing both lithium and boron materials domestically is important to U.S. national security.
  • By sourcing lithium locally for use in the U.S. battery supply chain, the environmental impact of shipping across oceans is eliminated.
  • Nevada has become home to an increasing number of lithium-ion battery manufacturers – lending tremendous opportunity to create jobs across the supply chain throughout Nevada.