Federal land managers have announced the launch of an expedited permitting process for what, if approved, will be America’s first vanadium mine.
Scoping is part of the process of preparing environmental impact statements (EIS) required for major projects that fall under the jurisdiction of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which the Trump administration recently modernized to get projects done faster.
In announcing plans for the vanadium mine’s expedited review, the bureau said that U.S. dependence on foreign vanadium “creates a strategic vulnerability for both the economy and military to adverse government action or other events that can disrupt the supply of this key mineral.”
Vanadium is a rare metal used as an alloy to strengthen steel, aluminum, and titanium for use in a variety of key industries, including aerospace. The United States currently imports vanadium, mostly from Austria, Canada, and Russia. China produces more than half the world’s vanadium but consumes most of it domestically.
Bureau of Land Management District Manager Doug Furtado said he expects a decision regarding the Gibellini Vanadium Mine in about 12 months.
“If approved, this project would provide hundreds of jobs and will contribute to the nation’s domestic source of critical minerals,” Furtado said.
The applicant for the vanadium mine is the Nevada Vanadium Company, which plans to mine about 10 million pounds a year, or about half of the overall U.S. demand.
Ron Espell, Nevada Vanadium’s vice president for environment and sustainability, said vanadium mines historically have been cost-prohibitive in the United States because of the poor quality of deposits.
“It’s all about the purity and it never pencils out economically,” he said. “This one is unique. It’s in the 98 to 99% percent pure range. It makes our project very attractive.”