The U.S. Department of Interior is expected to announce today that it has awarded a $1.2 billion contract to an aluminum company for a study of how to use a new, high-tech metal mining technique to extract precious metals from rock formations in Utah’s Salt Lake Basin.
The project, called the Goldrush, will involve digging up a 30-mile stretch of the Gold Rush River that’s known for its copper, zinc and silver veins.
The company will have to apply for the federal government’s “Pre-Application Review” approval before beginning work, and then submit a detailed plan to the Interior for environmental impact statement approval.
But the mining company, Silver Creek, says the project will benefit all of Utah’s mineral resources, not just copper.
“We think this is the best place to go in Utah because of the mineral resources in the state,” said Steve Stutz, vice president of mining operations for Silver Creek.
“It’s the only state in the United States that has copper, and we think it will have a significant impact on the economy.”
But Utah Gov.
Gary Herbert and Utah legislators, who are looking for ways to spend federal funds to reduce pollution and carbon emissions, are concerned that mining companies might not have the resources to do their jobs.
“This is an opportunity to help the local economy,” Herbert said in a statement.
“With the right technology, the industry can develop a new and innovative way to extract copper from the Salt Lake area.
The process has been used in the mining industry for years and we believe it will work.”
The project could also affect other mining operations, such as the copper-producing mine that sits just north of Silver Creek’s mining area.
“The state is working to protect our local copper resources,” Herbert’s office said in the statement.
The state says the new project will create 300 construction jobs and 2,500 full-time jobs.
But Herbert’s spokesperson, Scott Beresford, said the company has been working on the project for several years.
The federal government awarded the project to Silver Creek in July 2014, and the company’s president, John L. Smith, has said it will create up to 2,300 jobs and increase Utah’s economic impact.
He has said the project would bring $1 billion in revenue to the state.
“Silver Creek has been an industry leader for over 30 years,” Beresfield said in an email.
“Our new partnership with the U.C. Davis Center will help the state bring more jobs to Utah.”
The Goldrush project is part of a broader federal effort to study mining technologies, such a copper-extraction technique called metal-extracting and metal-processing, or MET, that’s used in many mines around the world.
MET extraction techniques, which involve drilling deep into rock, are being studied in several U.K. mines and could one day help companies extract precious metal from rock in the U:A total of 1.2 million metric tons of metal are produced each year from mines in the GoldRush region, according to the U, which includes the Gold Mine in Utah and the Gold Creek mine, which lies about 25 miles west of Silver Lake.
The U also estimates the Gold Mining Project could create 1,200 jobs and boost the state’s gross domestic product by $9.5 billion.
But in the end, Herbert said, “It is not silver that will create jobs.
It is not copper.
Herbert, a Republican who was elected in 2008, said in his statement that he will use the $1-billion contract to help “the state of Utah and Utah’s miners.”
Herbert also said the state is reviewing other options for using federal funds.
“As we continue to review federal policies that could benefit Utah’s economy, we need to make sure our federal dollars are spent wisely and with the highest possible standards,” he said.
Herbert also has called on state lawmakers to consider an emergency appropriation for the project.