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A Preview of the 3809 Mine Veto Provision: The Glamis Imperial Project

Charles A. Jeannes, Review and Analysis of the New BLM Surface Management (3809) Regulations (2001)

Glamis Imperial Corporation has been attempting to permit its proposed open-pit heap leach gold mine in Imperial County for over five years. The project area is comprised of unpatented lode mining claims and millsites located on federal lands that were, until recently, open to location under the mining laws of the United States. Despite overwhelming local support, this project, that will bring millions to a regionally depressed economy, has faced a series of federal roadblocks unparalleled in today's industry. Most recently, the Final Environmental Impact Statement was released by the Bureau of Land Management for the project with “no action” as the preferred alternative. This conclusion follows a BLM finding that the project would have significant irreparable, adverse impacts on cultural, historical and visual resources in the vicinity of the project. The Record of Decision formally denying the Imperial plan of operations is expected prior to January 20, 2001.

The BLM decision to deny the Imperial Project is based on the conclusions of a Solicitor's Opinion issued in December 1999 that created a new “undue impairment” standard applicable within the California Desert Conservation Area. This opinion was prepared in specific reference to BLM's consideration of the Glamis plan of operations. The undue impairment standard allows denial of a project upon a finding that it w