The federal permitting process for South32 mining of zinc and manganese at the Hermosa site is now well ahead of schedule. Full authorization could come as early as September 7, 2026.

Here is today’s press release from South32:


The Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC), an independent federal agency, today published the proposed comprehensive, integrated permitting timetable for South32’s Hermosa project. As is standard, this update comes 60 days after Hermosa was announced as the first mining project to be covered by FAST-41 in May 2023.

As Hermosa is located on private lands, only a handful of state permits from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality are required for initial development. However, we do anticipate the need of federal environmental reviews and a NEPA process for full development of the project.

Today’s permitting timetable from FPISC includes intermediate and final completion dates for all federal environmental reviews and authorizations for full project development, as well as a list of cooperating agencies. Their proposed permitting timetable projects Hermosa will happen in three phases: Hermosa’s Mine Plan of Operations will be submitted and approved by December 2023; Hermosa’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process – from notice of intent (NOI), public comment periods, and final EIS publishing – will occur over the course of 2024 and 2025, and federal authorization for full development will occur in 2026.

The Hermosa project, located in Southern Arizona, is currently the only advanced mine development project in the US that could produce two USGS-designated critical minerals – manganese and zinc – which are essential minerals for powering the world’s clean energy future. In fact, Hermosa is the only advanced project in the US that has a viable pathway to produce battery-grade manganese to help the rapidly growing North American electric vehicle supply chain.

South32 Hermosa President Pat Risner said: “The process to authorize full development reflects that stakeholders will be coordinated at the outset of project development. We welcome FAST-41 building on the NEPA process of providing stakeholders with increased transparency, real-time information that is publicly available on the Permitting Dashboard, and multiple opportunities over the next few years to give feedback. Since our inception, the Hermosa project has actively sought out, and has already incorporated, community feedback on the project’s planning and design.”

He added: “We are committed to working closely with the U.S. Forest Service, cooperating agencies, tribes and local stakeholders to develop this project in a way that benefits the community, minimizes impact on the environment and grows the economy.”

Previously in the Patagonia Regional Times:

“As Hermosa Project Ramps Up, Local Concerns Escalate” (June 1, 2023)

“Significant Developments for South32’s Hermosa Project” (May 10, 2023)